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AFC East: What Are the Chances of a Three-Way Tie with Two Weeks To Go?

Dan Van Wie@@DanVanWieContributor IIIDecember 15, 2009

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 14:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots passes the ball as Marcus Stroud #99 of the Buffalo Bills defends on September 14, 2009 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Patriots defeated the Bills 25-24.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Going back to the opening weekend of the 2009 season, the Buffalo Bills traveled to New England to welcome Tom Brady back to the league on Monday Night Football.

Brady had missed the 2008 season due to injuries, and you would have thought that he would have looked somewhat rusty, since he sat out the majority of 2008.

But this is Tom Brady we are talking about, and he excels in the spotlight.

Brady found a way to take apart the Bills' pass defense to the tune of 368 passing yards.

The Bills succeeded in applying pressure to Brady throughout the game, and they turned an Aaron Schobel interception into a 26-yard touchdown return.

With 2:30 to play, the Bills were sitting on an 11-point lead at 24-13, a lead you assume would normally hold up.

However, this is the Bills we are talking about, and they do not fare well at all in primetime games.

They currently are sitting on an 0-10 streak in primetime.

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The Bills lost that evening 25-24, thanks to two touchdown passes from Tom Brady to Ben Watson in the final 2:08 of the game.

Those passes served as bookends to the fumbled kickoff return by Bills' return specialist Leodis McKelvin.

Since then, the Patriots have not necessarily taken the NFL by storm, going 7-5 over their past dozen games.

Do you think the Bills have revenge on their mind?

What if the Bills succeed in evening up the season series with New England, just as they have already done with both the Jets and the Dolphins?

Should the Bills win on Sunday, and Miami beats the Titans, and the Jets hold off Atlanta, then we would have a three-way tie atop the AFC East at 8-6 with two weeks to go in the season.

That would make for an exciting conclusion to the regular season, to be sure.

How likely is this to happen, you ask?


Bills Defense Will Have To Turn Up Their Game Several Notches

The Bills' pass defense has been solid most of the season, so seeing them lit up for 368 when they had a full and healthy complement of their defensive team was somewhat of a surprise.

Brady hit Randy Moss and Wes Welker repeatedly.

Moss had 141 yards receiving, while Welker netted 93.

For anyone who has ignored the Bills this year, which is somewhat understandable, you have to know the current secondary is not the same as it was in Week One.

I do believe with the emergence of Jairus Byrd, who finally looked healthy again last weekend, that the Bills will be looking to clamp down on Brady and his receiving corps.

Bryan Scott has been turning in strong performances at linebacker, and George Wilson has also emerged to become a viable safety for the team.

Remember, Byrd had little practice time with the Bills in the preseason, due to a groin injury, and was not much of a factor as he registered three tackles in the opening game.

Since then, he has turned on the jets to become the NFL leader in interceptions, and the Bills' entire secondary has become a wealth of turnovers, creating 25 picks on the year.

The Bills' secondary have become film study gurus throughout the year, and you just know they were paying attention to what Carolina did last week to take Randy Moss out of his game.

That leaves the rest of the team to focus on Welker, Brady, Maroney, and Watson.

If the Bills are not able to create any turnovers, I don't like their chances very much on Sunday.

You will see a trend that in all of their wins this year, turnovers played a big part in the outcome.

That will hold true again on Sunday, if they are to come out on top.

Can the Bills' Offense Score on New England?

Fred Jackson will need another big game, as he accounted for 140 all-purpose yards in Week One.

If Ryan Fitzpatrick continues with a third-straight game of less than 100 yards passing, it would be strange indeed to figure the Bills can win.

Fitzpatrick will have to turn his game up several notches.

Since the game is in Buffalo, there is always the possibility of the weather becoming a factor.

One other thing to acknowledge is that the Bills have finally started the same offensive line alignment for three straight games now.

That hadn't happened all year, and they did not lose anyone last week, so maybe a degree of continuity is starting to be formed along the offensive line.

Perhaps the Bills will attempt to repeat the game plan of grinding out a bunch of yards on the ground via Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch, as the pair combined for almost 200 rushing yards against the Chiefs.

Should the weather dictate that kind of game, things suddenly look better for the Bills, as New England's leading rusher was Lawrence Maroney, who amassed all of 32 yards in Week One.

The other factor to me, which is kind of a wild card, is that the Bills' special teams have not had one return for a touchdown yet this season, so you would like to think that after 13 games they are more than overdue to take one to the house.

Moorman and Lindell have both been having great years kicking the ball, so that is another factor favoring Buffalo.

What About the Jets and MiamiCan They Uphold Their End of the Equation?

Each team will be up against a fairly strong opponent, as neither Atlanta nor Tennessee are pushovers.

In fact, Tennessee has been on quite a roll since Vince Young took over the reins.

The Bills will have their turn with Atlanta after the New England game.

Should this wind up as a three-way tie with two weeks to go, the Bills can take some level of satisfaction from making things interesting, since they will not be going to the playoffs again.

At this point of the year, all the team has going for it is to play the role of spoiler, play for pride and their jobs, and make Perry Fewell look good as he goes through the final phase of his evaluation for the head coaching on-the-job interview.

Stay tuned to see how it all plays out.

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