As the NFL moves closer to the end of its regular season, it’s very clear that the New England Patriots are in control of the AFC East. The bigger question is, “Are they in control of the AFC?”
Who’s In Contention?
The Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins are both three games behind the New England Patriots with three games left to play. The Patriots basically have the division sealed, but the difference between Buffalo and Miami is that Miami beat New England earlier in the season. The Dolphins could make the AFC East a lot more interesting if they can win in Foxborough this weekend, but even then, New England is almost certain to win the division. Just one win in its last three games would do the trick.
Can The Bills Win It All?
With their margin for error being virtually zero, the Bills should be viewed as a team on life support as far as the playoffs are concerned, which is a terrible blow for a team that has not made the playoffs since January of 2000, in the 1999 season. The Bills would have to win two straight games just to have a decent chance of staying in the playoff chase entering week 17, and in week 17, they go to New England to play the Patriots. This weekend, the Bills face Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. It’s really difficult to see how this team will finish any better than 8-8.
Can The Dolphins Win It All?
Miami is in a better position than Buffalo, but not by much. The Dolphins have to win at New England this weekend to get an above-average chance at making the playoffs, but of course, winning at New England does not have an above-average shot at being successful. The Dolphins are a warm-weather team going to a cold-weather site in December. That kind of scenario has never worked out well for them, and that might impact our NFL odds. It definitely didn’t last year when the Dolphins lost a key week 16 game in Buffalo to the Bills. Miami is nothing if not inconsistent. The team had a chance to get a firm hold on a playoff berth by beating Baltimore at home this past weekend. Super Bowl teams win that kind of game, but the Dolphins were clearly outclassed in the second half. They are unlikely to even make the playoffs at this point.
Can The Patriots Win It All?
With their 10-3 record and their head-to-head win over the Denver Broncos, the Patriots – given a closing schedule of Miami at home, at the New York Jets, and Buffalo at home – should finish 13-3 and be the top seed in the AFC playoffs. The Patriots are in line to get home-field advantage throughout the postseason. That’s the kind of team which should go to the Super Bowl and be in very good position to win it. The Patriots’ defense has been lights-out against the Green Bay Packers and San Diego Chargers the past two weeks, containing both Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers. New England has contained Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck in wins over Denver and Indianapolis earlier in the season. This team is strong enough to make you bet that the AFC East will have the world champion, so add the Patriots to your NFL picks.