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Patriots eliminated from division contention for first time in over a decade

The Patriots playoff chances are circling the drain.

New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) looks on from the sidelines with head coach Bill Belichick after being replaced in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills got a signature win on Sunday night when they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers to improve to 10-3. Buffalo holds a two-game lead over the Miami Dolphins with three games to play and is on track to clinch their first division title since 1993.

Meanwhile, the Bills win coupled with the New England Patriots loss to the Los Angeles Rams means the Patriots are officially eliminated from AFC East title contention. While this is not surprising in light of how the season has gone, it’s still a big deal. The last time the Patriots did not win the division was 2008. That was the last time they did not have Tom Brady for a complete season, after he tore his ACL at the beginning of the season. Matt Cassel took over and while New England finished 11-5, it was not enough to make the playoffs in a loaded AFC.

This year, the Patriots sit at 6-7 and are two games back of the 8-5 Dolphins for the final AFC wild card spot. With the Baltimore Ravens and Las Vegas Raiders both ahead of them with seven wins, the Patriots would need a near miracle to get to the playoffs. New England’s remaining three games include a road game against Miami and home games against the Bills and Jets. They will need to sweep those final three games to even have a chance at a playoff berth.