AFC East Breakdown: Week 16

(Brian Miller writes for Phin Phanatic, which is FSB’s Dolphins blog. Representing the rest of the AFC East are Musket FireThe J-E-T Press and The BuffaLowdown.)

The AFC East has been a tale of who wants it vs. who doesn’t.  With one week left in the season, 3 teams still have a shot at the division while only one…an unexpected one at that…holds their own fate in their hands.  The weekend that was found all 4 teams playing in sub 15 degree weather.  9 degrees in KC for the Phins, Snow and a -3 wind chill for NE, temps in the teens for Buffalo in Denver, and snow and wind in Seattle for NY.  Brrrrr!

Buffalo Bills (7-8):

Looking Back: The Bills eliminated themselves from the playoffs two weeks ago and are now playing the roll of spoiler.  It started on Sunday when they knocked off the Denver Broncos forcing the Broncos to travel to SD for a win and you win the division game in week 17.  The Bills did it with a sound running game and solid defense, something that they haven’t had in quite awhile.  Trent Edwards returned and J.P. Losman has likely seen his last bit of playing time in a Bills uniform.

Looking Ahead: The Bills are not looking quite ready to look towards the 2009 season…not with the New England Patriots coming town.  The Bills have a chance to spoil to the party for the Patriots and Trent Edwards and company would like nothing better than to leave the 2008 season on a positive note.  The question is what team will show up.  The team that just beat NE or the team that blew their upset over the Jets?

Miami Dolphins (10-5):

Looking back: In what is now recorded as the lowest temperature ever played by the Dolphins, the Phins managed to pull out a late victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.  The Chiefs scored 4 TD’s on the frozen stadium turf and both teams struggled with communication.  Players complained of their mouthpieces freezing in their mouths while the turf itself was called a rock.  In the end, the Phins pulled out a 38 – 31 victory that became the biggest turnaround from one year to the next in NFL history.  9 games more than last season.

Looking ahead: Of the 3 teams competing for the AFC East division, only the Dolphins control their own destiny.  A win against the NY Jets in New York and the Dolphins win the division.  The game itself is billed as the return of Chad Pennington to NY after he was unceremoniously dumped following the Jets trade for Green Bays Brett Favre.  If the Dolphins win they will be the 3rd seed in the AFC and will host either Baltimore or New England.

New England Patriots (10-5):

Looking back: For the Patriots you need to look back to week 1 when the team lost Tom Brady for the season and little know and little played Matt Cassel was asked to step and carry the team.  15 weeks later and the Patriots are tied for first without skipping a beat.  The Patriots have scored over 40 points the last two weeks and put the visiting Arizona Cardinals away in the first quarter of their snow filled stadium on Sunday setting themselves up for a week 17 showdown with the Bills and hopes that the ball will bounce their way and back into the playoffs.

Looking ahead: The Patriots will face off against the Bills in NY.  The Bills have nothing but pride to play for and the Patriots face a must win game if they have any chance to get into the postseason.  For the Patriots the road to the playoffs will take one of two roads.  The division with a win and Miami loss or the wildcard with a Win and a Baltimore loss.

New York Jets (9-6):

Looking back: The NY Jets are 0-4 on the west coast this season and because of it, they are fighting for their playoff lives.  On Sunday they faced weather more consistent with NY than Seattle when snow and driving wind left the Jets a long trip home after a season changing loss.  The Jets didn’t just lose, they were only able to put 3 points on the board.  The Jets have lost 3 of the last 5 while the win vs. Buffalo two weeks ago was more of a Bills defeating themselves rather than a NY Jets beating Buffalo.

Looking ahead: The Jets will know at 4:15 whether their season is over or if they are still alive.  The Dolphins will also share that information as well.  A loss by NE early and the Jets will play for the division against Miami in a winner take all backyard brawl.  A win by NE and Baltimore and the Jets can only play spoiler for the Phins Cinderella season.  Something the Jets have no problems doing if need be.

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