In this week’s edition of our AFC East Preview, the cream of the AFC East crop is going head to head under the bright lights of Monday Night Football. Both the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills are squarely in position to not just fight for the division crown, but for the #1 seed (and only playoff bye) in the conference. This week’s primetime matchup could go a long way towards determining playoff seeding next month. Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins fight to keep their win streak and playoff hopes alive against the New York Giants, while the New York Jets, fresh off a win, take on the Philadelphia Eagles.
Current AFC East Standings
- New England Patriots (8-4) overall; (2-1) division
- Buffalo Bills (7-4) overall; (3-0) division
- Miami Dolphins (5-7) overall; (2-2) division
- New York Jets (3-8) overall; (0-4) division
New York Giants at Miami Dolphins - December 5th at 1:00pm ET
Miami was one of the league’s best teams in the month of November, a statement no one would have believed considering the Dolphins entered said month with a 1-7 record. Now on a four-game win streak, head coach Brian Flores is commanding one of the league’s hottest defenses, and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is making significant strides in piloting an improved offense that just picked apart one of the league’s most dangerous defensive fronts. Practically every game for the Dolphins from here on out can be considered a “must-win,” and this week is no different, but there’s still a path to significant January football for this team.
Giants signal caller Daniel Jones is questionable to play on Sunday after suffering a neck injury in last week’s win over the Eagles. Should Jones be unable to take the field, backup Mike Glennon would be in line to get the start. Regardless of who’s under center for Big Blue, they’ll be in for a challenge against a revitalized Dolphins defense that is coming off its best performance of the season. Miami held Panthers quarterbacks Cam Newton and P.J. Walter to a combined 10 of 31 passing for 179 yards, zero touchdowns, three interceptions, and five sacks last week.
Score prediction: Miami 27 - New York 20
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Jets - December 5th at 1:00pm ET
The Eagles are coming off the team’s worst loss of the season against the aforementioned Giants and will hope for better results this week during their second consecutive trip to MetLife Stadium. The Jets, on the other hand, are fresh off a sorely needed victory over the Houston Texans in which rookie quarterback Zach Wilson made his long-awaited return from a mid-season knee injury.
In this matchup, fans and front offices of both clubs will be paying close attention to the performances of their respective young passers. Jalen Hurts was on a hot streak before New York’s defense cooled him off, while Zach Wilson has been flashy but erratic throughout his rookie season. Both could use a springboard game at this point in the year.
Score prediction: Philadelphia 24 - New York 21
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills - December 6th at 8:15pm ET
Forget Steelers-Ravens. Forget Chargers-Bengals. This is the matchup of the week. The Patriots are currently the league’s hottest team. Bill Belichick’s defense is playing lights out as per usual and rookie Mac Jones is commanding the perfect complementary offense. There are few weaknesses on what might be the most complete team in the NFL. New England can run the ball with authority, Jones has weapons emerging in Kendrick Bourne (having a career-best year), Hunter Henry (seven touchdowns in the last nine games), and Jakobi Meyers (one of the top undrafted free agents in recent memory), and the defense is stifling opposing offenses left and right.
That said, the Bills represent New England’s toughest challenge in recent weeks. Buffalo has provided fans with a roller coaster of emotions over the past month due to some inconsistent play, but there’s no denying that Josh Allen and his cast of playmakers represent one of the most explosive aerial attacks in the NFL. The defense, even without star cornerback Tre’Davious White (who suffered a season-ending knee injury last week) is among the league’s best. Get your popcorn out for this contest because we’re in for a treat.
Score prediction: Buffalo 28 - New England 24