AFC East Preview: NE Patriots vs. San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks vs. Buffalo Bills
Week 15 has a full slate of AFC East games with teams looking toward the playoffs and top seeding. The New England Patriots (10-3) will continue their march toward another Super Bowl and will play the San Francisco 49ers (9-3) on Sunday evening.
While once again out of any playoff contention, the Buffalo Bills (5-8) will host the hot Seattle Seahawks (8-5) who have their eyes on the postseason.
Other division games include a battle in Florida between the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) and the (5-8) Miami Dolphins (-8, 37.5 o/u).
And to end the week, the New York Jets (6-7) will play the Tennessee Titans (4-9) on Monday, trying to keep their playoff chances alive. The bettors see a slim Titans win (-1, 41.5 o/u).
New England vs. San Francisco
The Patriots are coming off a big Monday win over the Houston Texans, showing once again they are a team to be reckoned with.
They trail the Texans for the top seed in the conference by one game while the 49ers remain on a mission to win the NFC West. With a Sunday win and a Seattle loss, they will achieve this but it could be difficult against the Patriots.
Quarterback Tom Brady had 296 passing yards and four touchdowns (tying his season high) in the 42-14 Texan win. This season, he has 29 touchdown passes and only four interceptions.
His offensive weapons are lacking thanks to injuries: Donte’ Stallworth (ankle) and Julian Edelman (foot) hit the injured reserve list this week while tight end Rob Gronkowski broke his forearm.
Enter Deion Branch and Aaron Hernandez to step up for the team for receiving with running back Stevan Ridley on the run; he has scored a touchdown in six straight games.
The Patriots will face a tough 49ers defense: they are league leaders in scoring defense (14.2 points per game); they have only allowed three rushing touchdowns (tied for a league best) and they are tied for No. 2 in rushing defense(90.8 yards per game).
49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick hit the ground running as a late-season starter (67.4 percent pass completion) and last week he was 18 for 23 with 185 yards.
He will be assisted this week by running back Frank Gore who has 1,035 yards and seven touchdowns to date.
It’s easy to root for the underdog but the win will go to the Patriots (-5, 46.5 o/u).
Buffalo vs. Seattle
It’s another year, another season that Buffalo won’t see the playoffs but the Seahawks have them in their rear view mirror as they sit atop the NFC’s wild-card position.
This week, they’ll enter the game with a lot of confidence after their last two big wins. A large contributor to this has been running back and former Bill Marshawn Lynch.
He is having a career season with his 1,266 yards (No. 2 behind Adrian Peterson).
His rookie quarterback Russell Wilson is also having a great season. He has 2,492 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, nine picks and 310 ground yards. In last week’s 58-0 rout of the Arizona Cardinals, Wilson became the first rookie quarterback to not only start but win his first six games on the home turf since the merger in 1970, reported ESPN.
For the Bills, Ryan Fitzpatrick is their field general and to date, he has 2,718 yards, 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
His offensive weapon of choice has been running back C.J. Spiller. He has 944 yards from 144 carries. His 6.6-yard average is the league’s highest over 13 games–a first since Jim Brown’s 1963 run.
But it may not be enough. Its year No. 13 for the Bills without a postseason and now rumors are swirling it could be the end for coach Chan Gailey with his 15-30 three-season record. He has the support of GM Buddy Nix and Spiller who recently said via ESPN, “Those people who want him fired, they must not understand football. He’s my coach, and I’ve got his back.”
It could be a battle of two talented running backs but things will happen in threes for the Seahawks (-5.5, 43.5 o/u).