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NFL Week 12: Previewing the AFC East Matchups

The 2013 NFL season is flying on by, as Week 12 brings the final week of regular season bye weeks as all 32 teams around the league catch up to one another from a total games played standpoint.

In the AFC East, the Buffalo Bills are among the teams off in Week 12, and they go into their bye week on a high note after beating the New York Jets in an intra-division matchup last week.

The Jets weren’t the only AFC East team to lose in Week 11, as the New England Patriots dropped a close one on Monday night. The Miami Dolphins, meanwhile, joined Buffalo in the win column and to help themselves get back in the playoff picture.

Here’s how the AFC East standings look prior to the start of Week 12:

New England Patriots — 7-3
New York Jets — 5-5
Miami Dolphins — 5-5
Buffalo Bills — 4-7

The three AFC East teams that are in action this week all have tough games on the horizon. Let’s take a look ahead at those three AFC East matchups in Week 12.

 

New York Jets at Baltimore Ravens, 1 pm ET, Sunday

As we discussed on NGN’s Jets podcast, “Press Coverage” this past week, that despite taking a big step backwards in last week’s loss to the Bills, the Jets remain in position for a playoff spot in a top heavy AFC. The Jets have now set an NFL record for alternating wins and losses to start a season, with an amazing 10 in a row. It’s not quite a record to be proud of, however.

This week, they head to Baltimore to face the defending world champion Ravens, who are still alive in the playoff chase as one of four teams with a 4-6 record. With the Jets just 2-5 in conference games this year, every game against AFC opponents is a crucial one from here on out.

The Ravens’ offensive line has struggled this season, most notably with their run blocking. That bodes well for the Jets and their defensive front, who have proven to be the NFL’s best run defense this season, allowing a league-best 73.2 rushing yards per game and 2.9 yards per rush.

For the Jets to win, rookie quarterback Geno Smith will have to play much better than he has in recent weeks, especially after a career-worst performance last week. The Jets have been a very resilient team, and they’d love to keep that alternating wins and losses streak going for at least another week.

 

Carolina Panthers at Miami Dolphins, 1 pm ET, Sunday

Winners of six in a row, including a dramatic come-from-behind win last Monday night, the Panthers are the hottest team in football and have emerged as legitimate contenders in the NFC. The Dolphins have a tough task in front of them, and they’ve been almost as up-and-down as their division rivals in New York.

Miami did an excellent job getting a much-needed victory last week, but their patchwork offensive line will be in a battle with Carolina’s defense, which has emerged as one of the best in the game in 2013. The Panthers are 1st in points allowed at 13.5 points per game, and 3rd in yards allowed at 294.0 per game.

At 7-3, riding high, playing good football, it’s tough to see the Panthers losing this game. But if the Dolphins can keep Ryan Tannehill upright and win the turnover battle, they’ll have a chance to pull the upset. Miami’s been a tough team to get a read on this season, but anything is possible in the NFL.

 

Denver Broncos at New England Patriots, 8:30 pm, Sunday

Sunday night, it’s Peyton Manning v. Tom Brady, round 14. Including the postseason, Brady is 9-4 against Manning in their careers, and the Patriots beat the Broncos last season in Denver’s first foray into the rivalry. This year, however, Denver boasts a 9-1 record, and they’ll look to get to the upper hand.

Adding another layer of intrigue to the Manning-Brady rivalry is the presence of former Patriot Wes Welker in a Bronco uniform. Welker is going through the league’s concussion protocol and returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday, hoping to suit up and prove that his former team should never have let him go.

The Patriots still have a bad taste in their mouth from their loss in Carolina last week, and they certainly don’t want to lose back-to-back games on the national stage. Losing to Manning and Welker would be the cherry on top. But can New England’s defense contain Denver’s high-powered offense for 60 minutes?

We’ll find out Sunday night.

 

 

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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