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Pats Need to Send Message to AFC East

FOXBOROUGH - The AFC East crown had begun to feel a bit like a birthright for the Patriots entering last season. They had won it five consecutive seasons, but last year their reign over the division ended and so did their season without a trip to the playoffs.

All offseason, the Patriots had to listen to Miami Dolphins players talk about how they’re the defending division champions and Jets coach Rex Ryan pontificate that neither he nor his team are intimidated by coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots. If nothing else, tonight’s season opener against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium is an opportunity for Belichick and the boys to send a message to their AFC East brethren - Tom Brady is back and we’re once again the Eastern standard.

The Patriots will don...

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