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NFL Week 15: Previewing the AFC East Matchups

With only three weeks left in the 2013 NFL season, the New England Patriots are not only on their way to another AFC East division title, but possibly a first-round bye in the playoffs.

After the Denver Broncos lost on Thursday, the Patriots have a chance to leap ahead to the number one overall seed in the AFC with a win this Sunday, which could put them on track for home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

First, they’ll have to get past the AFC East rival Miami Dolphins, who have played good football lately. A Patriots win would clinch their 10th division title in 11 years, an unprecedented stretch of dominance.

Meanwhile, the New York Jets need a win to keep their faint playoff hopes alive, while the Buffalo Bills would need a minor miracle to stay mathematically alive even with a victory this week.

Here’s a look at the AFC East matchups in Week 15:

 

Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 pm ET, Sunday

Left for dead after an 0-8 start, the scrappy Jaguars have now won four of their last five games, and their three-game winning streak is tied for the longest current win streak in the AFC. Buffalo could very well be in danger of being their latest victim, as Jacksonville has a good run defense and they’ll look to bottle up C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson to force rookie quarterback EJ Manuel to beat them.

Manuel struggled last week, throwing a career-high four interceptions, as his up-and-down rookie season hit new lows in a blowout loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bills have now lost five of their last six games and seven of their last nine, including two straight losses immediately following their Week 12 bye.

 

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

The AFC East rivals have a lot to play for, as the Patriots look to get prime playoff position and the Dolphins battle for the sixth and final playoff spot. Miami has won three of their last four games to move into a tie with the Baltimore Ravens for that final playoff spot. Baltimore currently has the tiebreaker.

The Dolphins played the Patriots tough back in Week 8, but New England ultimately battled back from a double-digit second half deficit, which has been their calling card all season long. They pulled another rabbit out of their hat last week, and at 10-3, they’ve got a chance to make teams pay come playoff time.

 

New York Jets at Carolina Panthers, 4:05 pm ET, Sunday

The Jets finally got off the schneid last week and won their first game since their bye week, and at 6-7, they’ll likely need to win out to have a chance at the playoffs. However, it’s going to be a daunting task heading to Carolina, as we discussed this week on “Press Coverage,” NGN’s Jets podcast.

Both teams boast elite run defenses, but the Panthers have a significant talent advantage on both sides of the ball. They need to win to keep their playoff hopes alive in a tough NFC, and they’re not going to take the Jets lightly even with a rematch with the New Orleans Saints on the horizon next week.

The Jets are 3-0 against the NFC South this season, and they’ve been underdogs in each of those games. It’ll be no different this week, and while non-conference wins won’t do much for the Jets as far as AFC tiebreakers go, for all intents and purposes, this is a make or break game for Gang Green.

 

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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