NFL Playoff Picture: Patriots Clinch First Berth Of 2010 Season

We're still almost a month away from the beginning of the 2010 NFL Playoffs, but the NFL playoff picture already has one team in focus: it's the Patriots, the NFL's best and hottest team.

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After a 36-7 win over the Bears today — one that saw the Patriots extend a stretch of incredible offensive performance — the Patriots are the first NFL team to clinch a playoff berth this year, locking up no less than a Wild Card berth in the AFC by moving to 11-2 on the season. That record, and wins over the Ravens and Colts, give the Patriots no worse than a one-in-six chance to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl for the first time since 2007.

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And the Pats also got some help in their quest to win the AFC East from the Dolphins. Miami dumped the Jets, 10-6, giving New England a two-game lead on New York with three games to play.

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