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NFL Week 8: Previewing the AFC East Matchups

As we enter Week 8 of the 2013 NFL season, the AFC East division is suddenly tight again, after some surprising results in Week 7 when the four teams squared off in intra-division matchups.

In the two intra-division games, the Buffalo Bills were underdogs against the Miami Dolphins, and the New York Jets were underdogs against the New England Patriots. However, both the Bills and Jets were able to pull out the victory in close contests, and suddenly the division once again sees all four teams within two games of one another.

Here’s how the AFC East standings look entering Week 8:

New England Patriots — 5-2
New York Jets — 4-3
Miami Dolphins — 3-3
Buffalo Bills — 3-4

This week, there’s one more intra-division game, as the Dolphins and Patriots play their second in as many weeks. Without further ado, here are the AFC East matchups in Week 8:

 

Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots, 1pm ET, Sunday

Until last week, the Dolphins hadn’t played a single game against any of their division opponents. After losing at home to the Bills in Week 7, Miami will play their second straight intra-division game this weekend, as they head to Gillette Stadium to face the first-place Patriots.

New England is reeling a bit after losing two of their last three games. Let’s not forget, they came within a dramatic last-second comeback in Week 6 (sandwiched between their two losses) from potentially entering Week 8 on a three-game losing streak. Tom Brady has not looked like himself as of late, with that aforementioned game-winning touchdown pass actually the only touchdown pass he’s thrown in the last three weeks, a far cry from the touchdown machine he’s usually been.

Nevertheless, I expect a big bounce-back for the Patriots this week. The Dolphins have dropped three straight after a 3-0 start, and even though they’ve played the Patriots tough at times over the last few years, I don’t see this Patriots’ slump lasting much longer. A potential Miami win, however, would have an enormous ripple effect throughout the AFC East. I’m sure Rex Ryan wouldn’t mind seeing that.

 

Buffalo Bills at New Orleans Saints, 1pm ET, Sunday

The Bills have been battered, bruised and beat up on offense, but still managed to defeat the Dolphins to get back within a game of .500 entering their Week 8 matchup in New Orleans. The Saints are coming off a bye week, and it’ll be their second of three straight games against an AFC East opponent, having faced the Patriots in their previous game, and a matchup with the Jets coming up next weekend.

With two weeks to prepare for the still ailing Bills, I expect the Saints to easily cruise to their sixth win of the year, even with the health status of All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham still in question at the time of this writing. Nevertheless, Drew Brees will have plenty of targets to throw to, and after the way they lose to the Patriots in their previous game, I can definitely see them taking out their frustrations on the Bills. The Saints might be the best team in the NFC, and they shouldn’t have any trouble with Buffalo.

 

New York Jets at Cincinnati Bengals, 4:05 ET, Sunday

As thoroughly discussed this past Tuesday on “Press Coverage,” NGN’s flagship New York Jets podcast, the Jets shocked the football world with their 30-27 overtime win against the first-place Patriots last week. Now, they’ll look to do something they haven’t done all season, and that’s win two games in a row.

The Jets have alternated wins and losses every week this season, and they’d love to buck that trend this week, against a tough Bengals team that one could argue may be the second- or third-best team in the AFC this season. The Bengals have already defeated the Packers, Patriots, Steelers and Lions this season, and they’d love to get to 6-2 with a win over Gang Green.

We discussed on “Press Coverage” how these two teams are pretty similar in style, with strong defenses complemented by multi-back running games on offense, and young quarterbacks whose play seems to set the tone early each week as to which version of their respective teams is going to show up that day.

As impressive as some of the Bengals’ wins have been this season, they also blew a 10-point lead to the Bears in Week 1 and scored just 6 points in a loss to the Cleveland Browns in Week 4. Like the Jets, they’ve had their share of highs and lows, but few doubt that the Bengals are for real. The Jets are going to have be their Week 5 or Week 7 versions of themselves if they want to win this game. The Week 4 or Week 6 versions aren’t going to cut it.

 

 

Jon Presser is the lead host of NGN’s New York Jets podcast, “Press Coverage: Jets Talk with Jon Presser,” live every Tuesday at 7:30 pm ET. Follow “Press Coverage” on Twitter: @PressCoverNYJ

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