It’s not exactly breaking news that the Patriots have dominated the AFC East during Tom Brady‘s time as their starting quarterback. But the extent of the dominance is extraordinary.
If New England wins on Sunday at Miami, the Patriots will clinch the AFC East for the 10th consecutive year. They won’t just be the only NFL team to win a division 10 years in a row, but they’ll be just the second team in any of the four major North American sports leagues to win a division 10 years in a row. Only the Atlanta Braves, who won their division every year from 1995 through 2005, have done it before.
The Patriots won the AFC East in 2001, Brady’s first year as their starter, then finished second in 2002. They won it again in 2003 and have won it every year since then except for 2008, when Tom Brady suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week One and they finished second in the division. This is Brady’s 17th season as the Patriots’ primary starting quarterback, and he’s poised to win his 16th division title.
The Patriots are an incredible 205-58 in regular-season games that Brady starts. To put that in perspective, consider this: Drew Brees has had an amazing career and played on lots of good teams. But if Brees goes 50-0 in his next 50 games, and Brady goes 0-50 in his next 50 games, Brady will still have a better career record.
What the Patriots have accomplished since Brady became their starter in 2001 is the most sustained run of excellence we’ve ever seen.