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Week 12: AFC East Review

The New England Patriots are currently on track to take the AFC East divisional title. But behind them, there’s still all to play for in pursuit of a potential wildcard playoff berth.

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

New York Jets 3 - 19 Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens took advantage of a poor New York Jets offense to leapfrog above them in the wildcard standings.  Geno Smith completed 9 of 22 passes for 127 yards, zero interceptions, a fumble and two interceptions.  During the first two quarters Rex Ryan chose to be very conservative.  Smith threw for only 21 yards, while the Jets also ran five wildcat plays.

Then, Down 12-3 in the third quarter, Smith actually led the Jets on the drive.  However, it wasn't long until he threw an interception to Corey Graham on an intended deep pass to David Nelson.  That interception enabled Flacco to finally find a way past New York's defense as he fired a deep 66-yard touchdown to put the Ravens 19-3 up in the third.

Finally, in a desperation drive, Smith threw his second interception of the day as he was again picked off by Graham in the endzone on an intended pass to Greg Salas.  The offense's performance will be particularly worrying for Rex Ryan, but a great help to the Miami Dolphins.

Carolina Panthers 20 - 16 Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins failed to capitalize on New York's loss to the Ravens as they succumbed to a painful loss to the Panthers.  For the Panthers, it was their seventh consecutive win and the second time in the space of a week that Cam Newton led a late comeback to steal the game.  Newton converted a fourth and ten on his own twenty-yard line to go on and score a touchdown with only 43 seconds left on the clock.

But it wasn't all rosy for the Panthers, who had to overcome a 16-3 deficit in the first half.  However Ron Rivera's aggressive play-calling paid off as Newton ran the football on fourth and 1 with the team 16-6 down, on a drive that ended with a touchdown to put them back in the game.

Then, with the Dolphins 20-16 down, Ryan Tannehill nearly connected with Mike Wallace in the final seconds, but the pass fell incomplete at the goal line.  In the end, Tannehill had a good day with 280 yards, but as expected Carolina's defense kept held Miami's running backs to 16 yards on 13 carries.  While the loss is an encouraging one for Miami and their patchwork offensive line, it also is a painful one to lose in the final seconds of the game.

In the remaining games the Dolphins in no particular order have to play the New York Jets (twice), the Buffalo Bills, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots.  There's still all to play for the Dolphins as they try to salvage something from a somewhat disappointing season so far.  Bring it on against the Jets next Sunday!

Denver Broncos 31 - 34 New England Patriots

The final game in the AFC East saw the New England Patriots complete a stunning comeback win to topple the Denver Broncos.  Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 31-yard field goal in overtime after Denver made a huge mistake on a punt return.  Denver's Tony Carter ran into Ryan Allen's punt after it landed and Nate Ebner recovered for the Patriots at Denver's 13-yard line.

On their first three possessions, the Patriots lost fumbles, but Brady threw three touchdowns as his team overturned a massive 24-0 halftime deficit to jump ahead with a 31-24 lead.  Then, Peyton Manning threw for 11 yards to Demaryius Thomas in the endzone to tie the game at 31 before the Patiots escaped with the win.

The game leaves the Patriots at 8-3 and in firm control of the AFC East.

What do you think of the games in the AFC East over the weekend?  Can the Dolphins turn the corner and claim a wildcard playoff spot?  Lets hear your views!