Who Will Win the Muddled AFC East?
Suddenly, the AFC East is no longer a shoe-in for the New England Patriots.
Once New England's third receiver, Sam Aiken, jumped into the air to catch Tom Brady's pass near mid-field, then got free of the corner-back and sprinted down the sideline for a 81 yard touchdown to give New England a 21-10 lead over the Miami Dolphins, it looked like the division was firmly in the hands of the Pats.
Not so fast.
Chad Henne's seven yard touchdown to Brian Hartline cut New England's lead to two, 21-19, and that was followed by an inept showing by the Patriots once daunting offense. New England's only decent drive of the fourth quarter resulted in an interception of Brady, by Vonte Davis in the end zone on a go-route intended for Randy Moss.
Then, Henne and the Miami offense put together one hell of a clutch drive. Henne hit Devon Bees for 14 yards, Anthony Fasano for 13 more. On third and six, Henne had a wide open Lousaka Polite in the flat, but the pass was overthrown forcing a fourth and six.
Henne then completed a clutch 13 yard pass to Greg Camerillo to move the ball to the Patriots 28 yard line. With the clock ticking toward the two minute warning, it was becoming quite obvious that the Dolphins could steal this game from the Patriots in the final seconds.
The Dolphins kicked the go-ahead field goal with 1:03 remaining, more than enough time for Tom Brady to engineer another heroic comeback. However, as he was being sacked, Brady threw an interception into the hands of Channing Crowder, ending the game.
Dolphins 22, Patriots 21.
Just when Bill Belichick thought he was out of it, Bill Parcells pulls him back in to teach him another lesson. Now the Patriots stand at 7-5, having lost three of their last four games, with the Dolphins and the Jets right behind them at 6-6.
The question remains for this final quarter of the season: who will flinch first? It appears that 10 wins should be enough to win the division this year; both Miami and New York have to win out, respectively; all New England has to do is win three of its final four to earn their first division title since 2007.
Here are the scheudles for all three teams, followed by a synopsis of what has to happen for each team in order to win this wild division:
New England's Schedule:
@ Buffalo (4-8)
@ Houston (5-7)
New York Jets Schedule:
@ Tampa Bay (1-11)
@ Indianapolis (12-0)
Miami Dolphins Schedule:
@ Jacksonville (7-5)
@ Tennessee (5-7)
All three teams have more or less favorable schedules, with the Jets facing the most difficult test of Indianapolis and Cincinnati in its final two weeks of the season.
Let's start with the Jets and that tougher schedule. The Jets really shot themselves in the foot, or should I say the mouth, considering all of their yapping since September. Two disastrous losses to the Dolphins, and God-awful losses to the Bills and Jaguars at home have put the Jets in a difficult bind.
The Jets have a worse division record (2-4) than the Dolphins and Patriots and have a worse conference record (5-5) than those two teams. In short, Gang Green will have to sweep their last four games and get a lot of help.
Numerically, the Jets will have to finish 2009 at 10-6 and hope against hope that the Dolphins lose one of their final four games to finish at 9-7. Why? The Dolphins own a huge tie breaker against the Jets having swept them.
The Jets then would have to pray that the Patriots lose two more games and finish at 9-7. One more New England loss won't get it done, since the Patriots own a tie breaker over the Jets, having beaten Miami once already this year, compared to the Jets two gut-wrenching losses to the Fish.
Can Gang Green win 10 games? Never trust the Jets; for all anyone knows, the Jets could lose to the 1-11 Buccaneers next weekend, but, if the Colts and Bengals lock up their play-off spots in the next couple of weeks, those games in week 16 and 17 will mean nothing to the Colts and Bengals. Perhaps the Jets could cash in on those two teams resting their starters, but don't count on it.
Miami Dolphins: The schedule is not easy for Miami. They have to travel to Jacksonville to play a Jaguar team that has been playing well of late, especially at home, and then they have to travel to Tennessee to face red hot Vince Young and the Titans. The Dolphins finish the year at home against what should be a desperate Pittsburgh Steelers team.
On paper, it looks like Miami could lose two of those games, but, in this league, you never know. The Jaguars are not an offensive juggernaut, and the Steelers lost two games to the Chiefs and Raiders this year. So, anything goes.
The Dolphins will have no choice but to win all four of their final regular season games, finish at 10-6, and get some help. They don't have to worry about the Jets, since they own the tie breaker there, but they will need New England to lose at least one more game, preferably two. If the Patriots lose one more game in conference, then Miami would own a tie breaker over the Patriots, giving the Dolphins an edge on the division title.
If New England and Miami should both finish at 10-6 with two divisional losses and four conference losses, then it will come down to common opponents. In short, Miami needs one more conference loss by the Patriots.
New England Patriots: They are still in the driver's seat in the AFC East, albeit by a hair. The Patriots have done themselves no favor losing three of their last four, but their final four games are pretty winnable.
If the Patriots win three of their final four and finish at 10-6, they will need a Miami loss to clinch the division because they do not want to get into a battle over common opponents with Miami. If both finished at 10-6, then New England's loss to the Jets in Week Two, plus an additional loss could come back to hurt them.
If Miami finishes at 9-7, then the Patriots will be fine.
The Pats don't have to worry about the Jets, unless Gang Green finished at 10-6, and the the Patriots lost two more games that included losses to Houston or Buffalo; then, the Jets could win the division.
If the Jets lose one more, then the Patriots will be fine.
Best case scenario: the Patriots finish at 11-5 in order to end any talk about common opponents, giving them the AFC East title and the number four seed comfortably.
It should be a wild and crazy four weeks. There is nothing better then the stretch run of the NFL season. This is what being a football fan is all about.
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?