AFC East Breakdown: Week 14
By Brian Miller
(Brian Miller writes for Phin Phanatic, which is FSB’s Dolphins blog. Representing the rest of the AFC East are Musket Fire, The J-E-T Press and The BuffaLowdown.)
The East is officially up for grabs after week 14 ended. With wins by Miami and New England and a loss by the division leading Jets, all 3 head into week 15 tied with an 8-5 record. For the Jets and Dolphins, their destiny is controlled by themselves while the Patriots will need both teams to falter. The Bills on the other hand have mathematics on their side alone.
Looking back: The Bills traveled north to Toronto, Canada for their home game against the Miami Dolphins. They found an indifferent crowd who at times cheered louder from the team further south. The Bills loss leaves only mathematics on their side as for all intent and purpose they are out of the play off race. Another loss and not even mathematics will save them from exiting this season in the basement of the division.
Looking ahead: The Bills will turn their attention to the roll of spoiler for now as they travel cross state to take on the New York Jets. A must win by any means, the Bills only chance is a win vs. a team who has lost two games in a row. The team may still be without starting QB Trent Edwards and if yesterday is any indication on how JP Losman will fill in, the Jets will be able to rest early.
Miami Dolphins (8-5:
Looking back: The Dolphins beat the Bills 16-3 in a dome instead of having to face the Bills in the bitter cold chill of Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Phins left Canada with a tie for first place after finishing 1-15 last year. With the division in their reach the Phins will have to win out to assure themselves of a playoff spot as the wildcard race still has them a game back.
Looking ahead: The Dolphins will face off against the visiting San Francisco 49’ers who beat the Jets on Sunday. They will do it however at home and the 9’ers will make their second trip to the East in 3 weeks. The Dolphins will have it somewhat lucky as they have the Chiefs following the 9’ers so they will not likely be looking ahead for anything more than a day off on Monday. Every game for the Dolphins, Jets, and Patriots are must wins now.
Looking back: Call it a lucky escape. For approximately 45 minutes on Sunday, the New England Patriots trailed the lowly Seattle Seahawks matching the ‘Hawks TD’s with field goals. A 4th and goal TD put the Patriots ahead by 3 and a fumble recovery sealed the deal in the waning moments. The Patriots have won 14 consecutive regular season games against the NFC, but of course lost in last years Super Bowl.
Looking ahead: The Patriots will travel south to face the Oakland Raiders in their second of two West Coast games. The back to back schedule prompted HC Bill Belichick to keep his team on west-coast time rather than heading home to New England and then traveling again. Either way, this should not be a difficult game for the Patriots.
Looking back: Two weeks ago media personalities were predicting an all NY Super Bowl. Two losses later and the tide has swung back towards the Tennessee Titans. The Jets loss in SF dropped the team into a 3-way tie erasing what was once a 1 game lead on New England and a two game lead on Miami. The Jets are struggling at the wrong time.
Looking ahead: The Jets need to get back to winning and a home game against the reeling Buffalo Bills is a good answer for that. With 3 games left on the schedule and the finale against the Dolphins looming, the Jets need to take care of the teams they are supposed to win and worry about the rest later. For now, they need to stop a slide that could result in a missed opportunity in January.