AFC East: Week 8 Preview and Point Spreads

Nobody could have predicted it heading into this season, but this may be the worst division in football. What else can you say about a division where the New England Patriots, who barely beat the Jets in overtime, are still considered, easily, the best team in the division? The Patriots are an interesting team, and the Jets and Dolphins may be better than advertised, but still: this division is looking pretty grim. (Buffalo officially removed itself from any playoff discussion with their disgusting 35-34 loss to the Titans on Sunday.)

There’s an interesting twist in this week’s AFC East action as New England travels to jolly old London to take on the St. Louis Rams, and the Bills blessedly have a bye week. Meanwhile, the Dolphins travel to New York to decide who is the second best (maybe even best, with the way the Pats are playing) team in the division. Let’s take a look at the spreads for both games in the AFC East this weekend.

New England Patriots (-7) at St. Louis Rams (in London), Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EST

These London games are tough to predict. Will the teams be jetlagged? Is there a home field advantage, one way or the other? (In this case, surprisingly yes; the Patriots are somewhat ironically one of the most popular NFL franchises in the UK.) The Rams are one of the scrappiest teams in the NFL at 3-4, and they’re extremely well coached by Jeff Fisher. They hung right in there with the Packers last weekend and did everything they needed to win. They ultimately lost 30-20 because of a few costly errors, but they took every punch the Packers delivered and threw a few haymakers right back at them. The Patriots won’t intimidate them.

The Patriots, meanwhile, are a total enigma. You never know which squad is going to show up. Is it the one that looked like one of the best offenses in football history against the Bills, or the one that stubbornly refuses to throw the ball to Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski in important moments? As strange as it sounds, this Patriots team has had a tough time closing games this season, and the Rams are one of those pesky teams that will take everything their opponent gives them. The Pats can’t afford to let the Rams hang around like they did with the Jets, or they could easily get upset here. Tom Brady and company will have to stomp the foot to the pedal early to build a lead on the Rams, who are prone to forcing the ball and turning it over when they’re playing from behind. However, if they let the Rams linger, trouble could be brewing in London. This frisky Rams team narrowly lost to Green Bay (narrow being a comparative term when discussing the high-powered Green Bay offense), a team that looks significantly better than the Pats over the past three weeks. I like the Rams to hang around and make it interesting. Take the points with St. Louis.

Miami Dolphins (+1) at New York Jets, Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EST

The last time these two teams played a few weeks ago, the Jets narrowly beat the Dolphins in OT. Both teams are playing better now than they were then, but I like the Dolphins in this one. I think Ryan Tannehill is already better than Mark Sanchez, and with the Jets absolutely destroyed with injuries both on defense and in their running game, I think the Dolphins take it easily. Look for Reggie Bush to have a huge day on the ground, and I think the Dolphins pull off the upset and win by a late field goal. Take the points with Miami.

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