AFC East Week 8 Preview
New England’s overtime win over the Jets a week ago gave them a half-game lead in the AFC East and they’ll have to continue the success they found seven days ago against St. Louis today to maintain that small division edge. If St. Louis can find a way to upset the Pats, one of the other two East teams in action today, Miami and New York, will be able to take advantage as they face off against one another. Can the surprise Dolphins go above .500 as they visit the struggling Jets? Can the Pats retain their unyielding dominance over the division? We will find out today, but we can get a little ahead of schedule be breaking down each matchup.
New England Patriots 4-3 at St. Louis Rams 3-4
The Patriots are used to being atop the East division, but what they are not used to is blowing fourth quarter leads and squeaking out games. There’s no question that this year’s Pats have not performed to expectations and that they once again, will be in for a heated battle this week against the Rams.
The game will be played at a neutral site, Wembley Field in London, so the Rams will not have home field advantage, but the fact they they are not playing at Gillette Stadium has to give them more confidence. At 3-4, the improved Rams have actually been quite a surprise, but will they surprise the Patriots today?
As usual, the Patriots will bring in one of the most effective passing attacks against the Rams, but they will also bring the 29th ranked pass defense, which is giving up 290 yards per game. The Rams, who are more a a run-focused squad will try to take advantage, but so far this season they have not had much success through the air, ranked just 24th in pass offense. The Rams are still a young and inexperienced team, but I think they will at least cover the +7 point spread today, but expect the Pats to do what they’ve been doing most of the year and squeak out another tight one.
Miami Dolphins 3-3 at New York Jets 3-4
The Dolphins and the Jets will need to keep pace with the Pats, or if New England loses, take the opportunity to climb the East standings. The Jets won the matchup between these two teams earlier this season in an overtime thriller 23-20 on the leg of Nick Folk. Today’s game is sure to be another intense inter-division contest.
What’s interesting is these teams are almost identical on paper. They both allow exact 363 yards on defense per game and Miami only has a slightly better offense, stat wise. Both teams have had turnover problems, so it’s reasonable to think that whoever holds on to the ball more will win this one.
Home field is obviously an advantage for the Jets and is the reason why they are a marginal one-point favorite today, but Miami has an important thing going for it, momentum. The Phins are coming of a win against St. Louis, whereas the Jets are coming off that devastating overtime loss to New England. Ryan Tannehill is growing as a quarterback each week and has completed 67% of his passes in the last three games. Look for the Dolphins to keep things rolling in the right direction and win this one against the struggling Jets.