This is the latest in a series of nine Radar entries over the next five weeks detailing trends in the AFC East, downward tendencies each division team wants to correct for the coming season and upward strides that each team wants to continue into 2009:
Rodney Harrison said it after the Patriots' 19-10 win over the Jets in the Green & White's Game 2 home opener last year:
"It's a nice win. A division win is a nice win."
NBC is sure to want something a little more substantial from Harrison when the hard-hitting safety joins the Peacock Network's "Football Night in America" broadcasts this season, but Rodney is right and the Patriots are the biggest division winners around.
The Patriots went 4-2 against their three AFC East brethren in 2008, and either a win over Miami in Week 3 or against the Jets in that Thursday night heart-thumper in Week 11 might have propelled the Pats to another division title.
But even a two-loss AFCE schedule did nothing to hurt the Patriots' position atop the NFL's division standings. The league realigned to eight four-team divisions in 2002, and in that span New England has the best record in all of football against its division. Better than the Steelers in the AFC North, better than the Colts in the AFC South.
Even Bill Belichick knows that while anything can happen on any given Sunday, "I think we all understand that the division games count a little more than the rest of the games."
Here are the NFL's top six teams in terms of records in their division games over the past seven seasons, plus how many times they reached the playoffs and how many division titles they won:
|Team||Div Record||PO Berths||Div Titles|