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AFC East in Wind-Down Mode

Following the Jets’ 14-10 loss to Tennessee on Monday night, the AFC East is all but done. New England is division champion for the ninth time in 10 years while Buffalo’s season alongside that of the Jets is now irrelevant. That leaves Miami.

Somehow, Miami is still alive in the playoff hunt, albeit barely. The Dolphins need to defeat Buffalo this week and New England next week, and then hope Pittsburgh and Cincinnati both end the season with an 8-8 record. In that case, bizarrely, the Dolphins would win the tiebreaker (record within conference) and head to the postseason as the No. 6 seed in the AFC. So unlikely is this string of results, oddsmakers took Miami off the NFL Futures board this past week.

New England Patriots (10-4) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12)

Sunday, 1 PM ET

The New England Patriots are still in the hunt for a No.1 or No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs, which comes with the added bonus of a rest week.

New England (10-4, 5-2 road) still has a shot at the No. 1 seed but it will require wins over Jacksonville this week and Miami next week, with Houston dropping both its remaining games and Denver dropping at least one. Houston plays Minnesota and Indianapolis, neither of which is a slam dunk. Denver plays Cleveland and Kansas City; it’s hard to see any upsets here. Still, while there’s the chance…

Jacksonville (2-12, 1-6 home) looks set to finish the season with the No. 1 or No. 2 overall pick in next year’s draft, following a dismal season. With two games left, the Jaguars will be willing the season over, especially with the visit of New England this week.

The Patriots are 8-1 all-time against the Jaguars, and have never lost a regular season game to the northern Florida side. The Jaguars’ one victory came in a postseason game on Jan. 3, 1999.

The Patriots are in the top 10 in all major offensive categories, while the Jaguars’ defense is near or at the bottom. This is as unbalanced contest as you’ll see in the NFL this year, as is reflected in the odds.

Bookmakers have the Patriots as 14.5-point favorites on the road. With an 8-5-1 ATS record, the Patriots look likely to cover that marker also.

The over/under is 49. 11 of New England’s games this season have seen the total go over.

Buffalo Bills (5-9) at Miami Dolphins (6-8)

Sunday, 1 PM ET

If Miami (6-8, 4-3 home) is to make an unlikely run at the playoffs, a win over the Bills is required Sunday afternoon.

Buffalo (5-9, 2-5 road) defeated the Dolphins 19-14 in Orchard Park, NY, earlier this season, but the Fins have won six of the last nine against their division rivals, including three of the last four in Florida.

Miami pulled out a victory last weekend, defeating the Jaguars 24-3, but prior to that, the team had lost five of six. The Bills’ recent record is no better though. Buffalo has lost two straight and six of the last eight.

The Dolphins opened as 3.5-point favorites. That number has risen to 4.5. Both teams have covered the spread just six times this season, which makes this a veritable coin toss. The big difference could well be the Dolphins superior defense, which has held opponents to 19.9 points per game, good enough for sixth in the league.

That defense could lead to the total – which stands at 41.5 – going under also, as it has done in eight of Miami’s games this season. Buffalo’s defense meanwhile seems destined to give up yards and points, but Miami’s offense is unlikely to acquiesce.

San Diego Chargers (5-9) at New York Jets (6-8)

Sunday, 1 PM ET

Whatever the result of the next two Jets games, Tim Tebow is highly unlikely to be in New York come the start of next season.

Finally, in a battle of two of the league’s biggest underachievers, the New York Jets (6-8, 3-4 home) welcome San Diego (5-9, 3-4 road) to MetLife Stadium.

With the controversy and turmoil surrounding Rex Ryan’s team, it’s hard to imagine the Jets coming out focused in this one, which would give the Chargers the opportunity of a rare win. But then again, the Jets could well come out and look like a wholly different side. Stranger things have happened when a team is out of contention.

On paper, the Jets have had San Diego’s number in recent years. While the Chargers own a 19-14-1 all-time record over the Jets, New York has won five of the last seven, including two straight. When these two sides met in October last year, the Jets took a 27-21 win.

The Jets opened as three-point favorites, and many bookmakers still have them there. Some however have the Jets as one-point favorites. Neither side has fared well against the spread this year, with San Diego going 5-8-1 ATS and the Jets compiling a 6-7-1 ATS record. This one really could go either way.

The over/under has fallen from 40.5 to 37.5. The two teams combine for an average of 39.6 points per game.

Bettors may want to skip out on this game altogether and put some money down on where Rex Ryan, MArck Sanchez, and Tim Tebow will ply their trade next season. The latest reports have Tebow heading to Jacksonville (again).

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