New England Patriots Could Pull into 2nd Place with Win, and Other AFC East News

Erik FrenzSenior Writer IDecember 10, 2012

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 02: Aaron Hernandez #81 of the New England Patriots reacts to a play during a game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on December 2, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Washington Redskins got their Christmas shopping done a couple of weeks earlier. They gave the New England Patriots quite a gift with their win over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

Now, the Patriots have an opportunity to seize sole possession of the AFC's second-best record if they can pull off the win against the Houston Texans on Monday Night Football. Four wins to close out the season would assure the Patriots the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs.

If only it were all so simple. The Indianapolis Colts are also hot on New England's trail, sitting at 9-4 and riding a three-game winning streak. With two of the team's final three games against the Texans, though, a top seed in the playoffs seems like a stretch for them, especially since they would need to do better than the Patriots' final record by at least one game to negate the tiebreaker.

The Denver Broncos also picked up a win on Thursday to launch themselves to 10-3 on the season. They will be watching tonight's game very closely, as New England also holds a tiebreaker over them. 

There are plenty of teams still in the hunt for a top seed in the playoffs, but the Patriots are the only team that controls its own destiny. With the right game plan and proper execution, they can get the wheels moving in the right direction tonight.

Here's some more news from around the AFC East.


New England Patriots

Shalise Manza Young of The Boston Globe goes beyond the numbers to explain why the Patriots defense is improving.

Bleacher Report Patriots featured columnist James Ermilio breaks down the best third-down play-calls for the Patriots this season.


New York Jets

According to Jeff Elliot of the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger, Jets guard Brandon Moore delivered a halftime speech that got the Jets offensive linemen going.

Neil Best of Newsday talks about the one big throw from Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez that helped seal the 17-10 win.


Buffalo Bills

Paul Hamilton of WGR 550 Sportsradio writes that the Bills have suffered through 12 years of incompetent game-day coaching.

Tim Graham of The Buffalo News explains why the Bills went from a field goal to a timeout to a punt to a loss.


Miami Dolphins

Andy Kent of highlights the spectacular performance of Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake, who had three sacks against the 49ers.

Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald hands out grades for the Dolphins' 27-13 loss to the 49ers.


Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand or via team press releases.