A win is a win, but ...

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Almost everything went the New England Patriots' way on the NFL scoreboards Sunday -- a victory over the Buffalo Bills and losses by the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets.

They now have a two-game lead in the AFC East with two games to play. A win over the Jaguars next Sunday at Gillette Stadium clinches the division crown and would give the banged-up club an important week to recover before the playoffs.

In that respect, Patriots followers can't ask for much more.

Or can they?

While the Patriots are closing in on one of their first goals each year -- winning the division -- they aren't doing so convincingly. Unlike many of the past Patriots teams that annually have built momentum in December, this club seems to make things hard on itself.

Sunday's 17-10 road win over the Bills was the latest example.

The Patriots led 14-3 at the half, but once again couldn't deliver the knockout punch. Instead, it took a clutch third-down Tom Brady-to-Wes Welker 8-yard connection with 2:08 left to officially put the check mark in the win column.

For those who focus solely on the bottom line, the final result is all that matters. For those wondering if the Patriots have the ingredients for a championship run, the finer details of how the team is playing could be cause for concern.

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