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AFC East Preview: New England vs. Houston and New York vs. Jacksonville

In Week 14, the AFC East has a stellar Monday night match up with the New England Patriots (9-3) vs. the Houston Texans (11-1). Both teams have already clinched their respective divisions and they will battle to become the best of the conference.

Three additional games will take place on Sunday, beginning with the St. Louis Rams (5-6) vs. the Buffalo Bills (5-7). Both are on the hunt for wild-card spots with the win going to the Bills ( -2.5 with a 42 over/under).

The Dallas Cowboys (6-6) will play the Cincinnati Bengals (7-5). Both are also playing for the postseason and the Bengals will try to keep their win streak alive. The odds are in their favor (-3 and 46 over/under) to achieve this.

Game No. 4 is the New York Jets (5-7) vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10). This could be an ugly one but there’s always the potential for Jets quarterback drama and an opportunity to see if Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne really has a chance as a starter in this league.

New England vs. Houston

Patriots QB Tom Brady

The Texans sit with a two-game advantage over all the other AFC teams and what better timing than to play the Patriots. Usually the heir apparent for a Super Bowl visit, the Texans are giving them a run for their money this season.

Both teams will enter Sunday’s game with six-game win streaks while Houston brings a perfect home record.

Keys to the Texans’ success has been quarterback Matt Schaub and his talented defensive end J.J. Watt, a contender for this year’s defensive player of the year award. In last week’s 24-10 win over Tennessee, Schaub had two touchdown passes and Watt had two sacks and his 15th hitting pass defended.

The Patriots have an injured secondary so the Texans will utilize their pass rush to distract Brady. They have given up a 352.0 passing yard average in the last three games which won’t bode well against New England.

Brady has only thrown one pick over six games and he will try to connect again with re-signed wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth along with Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez in the absence of the Gronk.

History is on the Patriots side for Monday night games and this week will be no different (-3 with a 50.5 over/under).

New York vs. Jacksonville

Jets QB Mark Sanchez

After finally benching its starting quarterback Mark Sanchez last week with his 10 for 21 and three-pick performance, it allowed third-stringer Greg McElroy to play. The Jets eked out a win and kept their tiny playoff hopes alive.

But McElroy’s playing time has ended for now  as the Jets will stick with Sanchez again this week.

Why? It’s not because of his numbers. He ranks as one of the league’s worst starting quarterback: at the bottom in passer rating (71.4) and completion percentage (55.0).

The Jets also rank toward the bottom (No. 28) for passing offense at 193.8 yards per game and (No.29) for total yards at 308.9.

As for the Jaguars, last week in their 34-18 loss against the Bills, they allowed a season-best 112 passing yards and a season-worst 232 rushing yards.

But there’s more.

They sit as No. 31 in the league with its 144.0 yards allowed on the ground. It could have its hands full with the Jets running game that gained 177 yards last Sunday thanks to 104 yards by running back Shonn Greene.

With a bevy of running back injuries including Maurice Jones-Drew, Jalen Parmele and Rashad Jennings, the Jaguars will look to fullback Montell Owens to get yards and points but they rank at No. 32 with their 78.8 ground yards.

On a positive note, Henne is 3-1 as a starting quarterback against Sanchez. Last week, Henne was 19 for 42, 202 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

But this week it could change as the Jets get the winning nod at -2.5 with a 38 over/under.

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