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NFL Week 17: Previewing the AFC East Matchups

The final week of the 2013 NFL season is upon us, and there’s a lot on the line in the two intra-division AFC East games on Sunday.

The New England Patriots clinched the AFC East championship and a playoff berth last week, and they’ll play the Buffalo Bills with a chance to clinch a first-round bye in January.

Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins are still fighting for the sixth and final playoff spot, and they host the New York Jets in a situation where the Jets can not only play spoiler, but they’re also likely fighting for their coach’s job.

Here the various clinching/seeding scenarios for the Patriots and Dolphins in Week 17:

New England clinches a top-two seed and a first-round bye with:
1) NE win or tie OR
2) CIN loss or tie + IND loss or tie

New England clinches the top overall seed and home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs with:
1) NE win + DEN loss

Miami clinches the sixth seed and a playoff spot with:
1) MIA win + BAL loss or tie OR
2) MIA win + SD win OR
3) MIA tie + BAL loss + SD loss or tie OR
4) MIA tie + BAL tie + SD tie

Got all that? Great. Here are your final AFC East matchup previews for 2013:

New York Jets at Miami Dolphins, 1 pm ET, Sunday

Both teams have a ton of motivation to win this game, as the Jets would love to play spoiler and knock the Dolphins out of the playoffs, returning the favor after Miami did it to them in 2008 and 2011.

As we discussed on NGN’s Jets podcast, “Press Coverage” this week, Rex Ryan’s future as Jets head coach is still firmly up in the air. I would love to see Rex return next year (and forever), but that’s not my decision to make. That decision falls in the hands of Jets general manager John Idzik.

The Dolphins beat the Jets earlier this season, and they obviously need a win and some help to extend their season into January. Jets players love Rex Ryan, and they will absolutely give it everything they’ve got to get that eighth win, finish .500, and prove to Idzik that Ryan should be the guy going forward.

Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots, 4:25 pm ET, Sunday

Other than potentially keeping the Patriots from a first-round bye, the Bills don’t particularly have much to play for this week, but I imagine that they’ll do their best to make things difficult for the Patriots, who have now won the AFC East division title for the 10th time in the last 11 seasons.

The Patriots are never one to take a day off, regardless of the stakes, so they’ll probably treat this one like a tune-up for their next game, whenever it may be. I don’t believe this team is truly a Super Bowl contender, but every playoff team has a shot to get hot and make a run. Stranger things have happened.

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

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