There will be plenty of scoreboard watching around the NFL these last few weeks, and this is especially true for that final AFC wild card spot. Six teams are within two games of each other with defending champion Baltimore Ravens currently leading the way. Their schedule looks brutal with road games against the Detroit Lions and Week 17 against AFC rival Cincinnati Bengals. Running back Ray Rice is having a down year which hurts badly. Defense remains their strength, but it isn’t as good as last season.
Amid a questionable locker room environment, the Miami Dolphins are right there. Mike Wallace has come around, and they are starting to play better overall. As fate would have it their final three contests are an AFC East gauntlet. Miami’s division rival, the New York Jets, are still alive and will be banking on an archenemy to help them out.
Quarterback Tom Brady’s New England Patriots have two straight games against Baltimore and Miami. Losing tight end Rob Gronkowski again hurts, but as long as Brady is under center they will always have a chance to win. New England’s animosity with Gang Green is well documented while these franchises have exchanged players and coaches over the years. Fans of both clubs also constantly engage in bitter trash talk. Right now, though, Jets fans need their hated rivals to come through.
Currently New York stands at 6-7, behind 7-6 Miami and Baltimore. The issue is they lose out on head-to-head tiebreakers against both teams as of now. Week 15 offering a road game against QB Cam Newton’s Carolina Panthers is tough. If they can pull off an up upset, things lighten up at home against the Cleveland Browns and Week 17 against Miami. Jets signal caller Geno Smith can play effectively by using speed and arm strength, but he needs to stop with the turnovers. New England takes on Baltimore Week 16, and two losses coupled with two Jets wins puts them in win and in territory.
This scenario far from guaranteed, but it is possible. Brady’s bunch needs to beat Miami because a loss coupled with a Dolphins victory over last place Buffalo Bills would put these teams in the common victories tiebreaker if they were to lose. It would be best for Gang Green to avoid that. Detroit is up and down; New York may need Baltimore to drop two out of three so this game is crucial to their fortunes. It will be difficult, but supporters will need to cheer for Patriot touchdowns these next two weeks.