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Week 12 AFC East Preview: Dolphins host Panthers, Patriots aim for number one seed

Miami Dolphins v New York Jets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

In this week’s edition of our AFC East Preview, the Miami Dolphins are hosting a revamped Carolina Panthers squad with the newly returned Cam Newton at the helm. The Patriots will host the AFC’s number one seed in the Tennessee Titans with the hopes of claiming the top spot in the conference themselves by the time the contest is over. Meanwhile, the floundering New York Jets are set to face off with the lowly Houston Texans in what is sure to be one of the ugliest matchups of the week.

Note: the Buffalo Bills played on Thanksgiving and emerged victorious over the New Orleans Saints, so there will be no Bills matchup preview in this week’s edition.

AFC Standings

  1. Buffalo Bills (7-4) overall; (3-0) division
  2. New England Patriots (7-4) overall; (2-1) division
  3. Miami Dolphins (4-7) overall; (2-2) division
  4. New York Jets (2-8) overall; (0-3) division

Carolina Panthers at Miami Dolphins - November 28th at 1:00pm ET

Cam Newton is back. The last time the Dolphins faced off with Newton, he was piloting a Patriots offense that struggled to put up points en route to a 22-12 Miami victory. This time around, Newton has a much better supporting cast headlined by superstar running back Christian McCaffrey and a talented group of pass catchers in D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, and second-round rookie Terrace Marshall Jr. Miami’s defense is going to need to continue its November run of dominance in order to contain such an explosive group, especially since Carolina’s defense, a unit that is near the top of the league’s rankings in many categories, will likely give Miami’s patchwork offensive line fits for much of the day.

Score prediction: Miami 20 - Carolina 16

Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots - November 28th at 1:00pm ET

The Titans are a different team without future Hall of Famer Derrick Henry at the wheel, but head coach Mike Vrabel’s talented defense is keeping his team afloat amidst a difficult stretch. Injuries to top pass-catchers A.J. Brown and Julio Jones haven’t made things any easier, but the team as a whole is talented and deep enough to remain competitive while its injured stars recover. The question is whether it will be able to do so against a surging New England squad that has its sights set on taking the conference’s top seed. Should the Patriots win and the Baltimore Ravens lose to the division rival Cleveland Browns this week, New England will, at the very least, hold a tie for the top spot in the conference.

Score prediction: New England 26 - Tennessee 24

New York Jets at Houston Texans - November 28th at 1:00pm ET

A matchup fit for those who enjoy, mistake-filled, desperate-for-a-win football with turnovers aplenty - that’s what you’re likely to get from this bout between a pair of 2-8 teams without much left to lose. Fortunately for those searching for a storyline, rookie second-overall pick Zach Wilson is back from a multi-game absence after suffering a knee injury earlier in the season. Jets fans are likely chomping at the bit to see him paired once more with the emerging Elijah Moore, a fellow rookie receiver who has come on strong in Wilson’s absence.

Score prediction: New York 23 - Houston 20

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