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The Patriots need two things to happen Sunday for them to clinch the AFC East title outright for the fifth straight season, and 10th time in 11 years: beat Cleveland at Gillette Stadium, and have the Dolphins lose at Pittsburgh.
Owning a three-game lead over Miami with four games left, the Patriots would clinch at least a share of the division title simply by knocking off the Browns. Hat-and-T-shirt games always hold special meaning for the Patriots, but usually after the fact. Before the game, coach Bill Belichick said, the focus needs to be elsewhere.
“We’re not talking too much about that,” Belichick said. “The only thing we can really control is how we play against Cleveland, and that’s really what we need to focus on.