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Patriots’ AFC East Title Leaves Rest of Division Precariously Balanced

With New England securing its ninth AFC East title in 10 years last weekend, the division may well be set for the remainder of the season.

Buffalo, Miami and the New York Jets – each with a 5-7 record – all face a tough, not to mention unlikely, path to the postseason, with the highest probability that none of the three sides will be playing come January.

Still, until the teams are mathematically eliminated, there’s everything to play for, and that begins with this weekend’s fixtures.

New York Jets (5-7) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10)

Sunday, 1 PM ET

Greg McElroy led the Jets to victory last weekend, but will start behind Mark Sanchez again this weekend.

Last week the Jets’ disastrous season reached boiling point. Having put together another poor performance, starting quarterback Mark Sanchez was benched in favor of Greg McElroy, who concocted the Jets’ only touchdown of the game. That touchdown led to a 7-6 win over Arizona in what is a contender for worst game of the season.

McElroy’s insertion into the game came in a week when Tim Tebow wasn’t available for play. Cue conspiracy-theorists proclaiming the move a suspect one. Regardless of Rex Ryan’s motive, the Jets will return to Mark Sanchez this weekend as they make the trip to Northern Florida.

New York Jets (5-7, 2-3 road) will take on a Jacksonville (2-10, 1-5 home) side that is a frontrunner to finish the season with the worst record in the league. That being said, the Jaguars pose a very real threat to the Jets.

New York’s 31-ranked rush defense could be just what the Jaguars are looking for in order to get Maurice Jones-Drew and the running game – currently ranked 32nd in the league – going. Add to that the fact that Jacksonville has won five of the last seven meetings between the sides, and you’re looking at the ingredients for the Jets’ season to spill even further out of control.

Tebow may be in uniform for his return to Jacksonville, where it played for the Florida Gators, but it’s unlikely he’ll see any action. McElroy has been confirmed once again as the backup.

The Jets opened as 2.5-point favorites over the lowly Jaguars, a number that has since risen to three. Both sides have posted a 5-6-1 ATS record this season. The over/under is 38.5.

St. Louis Rams (5-6-1) at Buffalo Bills (5-7)

Sunday, 1 PM ET

Buffalo (5-7, 3-2 home) comfortably defeated Jacksonville last weekend but the Bills have had anything but a comfortable season. A visit from St. Louis (5-6-1, 1-3-1 road) could pile on even more pressure for an underachieving Bills side this year.

St. Louis arrives in Orchard Park, N.Y., on the back of a huge upset win over the San Francisco 49ers. The 16-13 overtime victory means that the Rams are still in the hunt for a postseason berth, although such an occurrence seems unlikely.

A rare matchup on the NFL schedule, the Bills lead the Rams 6-4 in the all-time head-to-head. Buffalo has won two straight, and five of the last six.

The Rams will be looking to earn a win against an AFC East opponent; the side has lost all three encounters against the division so far this season. Buffalo has gone 1-1 against the NFC West, with Sunday’s game against the Rams and a showdown with Seattle in Toronto next weekend still on the slate.

The Bills are three-point favorites heading into this one, but the Rams have gone 8-4-0 ATS this season, making them one of this week’s better upset bets. Buffalo will hope that the cold 44 degree temperatures will be enough to put its Midwest opponent off.

The over/under is 42.5. Both sides have seen the total go over seven times this season, and with a pair of susceptible defenses on show, the score could pile up quick.

Miami Dolphins (5-7) at San Francisco 49ers (8-3-1)

Sunday, 4:05 PM ET

An upset win over the San Francisco 49ers is the only way Miami's slip postseason hopes will stay alive.

Miami (5-7, 2-4 road) will hope that last week’s loss to St. Louis will distract San Francisco (8-3-1, 4-1-1) enough for the Dolphins to return home with a smash ‘n’ grab win.

The Dolphins need a win in this rematch of Super Bowl XIX to have any hope of ‘stealing’ a postseason Wild Card berth. The Niners need a win to maintain a narrow advantage over Seattle in the race for the NFC West.

Miami will be up against the toughest defense in the National Football League, a defense that has only given up 14.3 points per game this season. The Dolphins defense – which has been the team’s high point this year – is no slouch though, so this could turn into a territorial battle with few points on the board. Oddsmakers certainly think so with the over/under at 39.

Miami has won two straight against San Francisco, a trend that broke a streak of five straight losses. But four losses in five over recent weeks have the Dolphins facing a tough challenge.

San Francisco opened as 10-point favorites and is now considered to have an 11-point advantage ahead of kickoff. The Dolphins have posted a 5-5-2 ATS record this season, compared to San Francisco’s 7-5-0 ATS record.

Houston Texans (11-1) at New England Patriots (9-3)

Monday, 8:30 PM ET

Whilst the rest of the AFC East jockeys for position this weekend, New England (9-3, 4-1 home) will host AFC South-leading Houston (11-1, 6-0 road) on Monday Night Football.

The clash will be a good yardstick for both sides to measure themselves against, with the winner carrying some serious bragging rights over into postseason play.

Since Houston joined the league as an expansion team in 2002, the two sides have met three times. New England has gotten the better of those meetings, taking a 2-1 series lead. Houston was defeated 40-7 in its only visit to Foxboro, a game that was played in Dec.2006. This is a very different Texans side to the one that took to the field that day.

New England opened as four-point favorites at home with the over/under at 52.5.

Report back to BettingSports.com on Monday for more information about what could be one of the biggest games of the season.

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