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AFC East already in the bag?

Posted by Albert Breer  November 18, 2009 10:52 PM

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The man pictured above went on injured reserve on Wednesday, and he is at the very heart of what the Miami Dolphins are. The club has rushed for 1,406 yards at a 4.6-per-carry clip through nine games, and without Ronnie Brown, it'll be difficult for Miami to replicate that down the stretch. Particularly with Patrick Cobbs also down for the year.

The man pictured below went on IR three weeks ago, and was at the very heart of who the New York Jets are. Without Kris Jenkins, the defense did manage an immense effort in stopping the Dolphin running game, but also got gashed by Oakland and Jacksonville on the ground. And Jenkins' absence has kept the Jets from creating the kind of down-and-distance situations that allow Rex Ryan to cook up his exotic pressure packages.

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Two teams. Two huge injuries. Division race over?

Maybe. If the Patriots beat New York this week, their lead goes to three games over the Jets. If the Dolphins lose to Carolina tomorrow night, then it'll be the same with Miami. So that would be a three-game lead with six to go.

And in that case, yup, it looks like that would be a wrap on this race.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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