We have one more week to go in the NFL regular season, and the teams in the AFC East are all preparing to take the field for very different reasons. Unfortunately, only the New England Patriots have playoffs on the mind but the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, and Miami Dolphins will also be playing with a chip on their shoulder this week.
New England Patriots
There is still a lot for the Patriots to play for going into their Week 17 match-up against the Jets. If the team wins then they clinch a first round bye in the playoffs. However, with a win and a loss by the Los Angeles Chargers and the Kansas City Chiefs, the team would clinch the one seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. A loss could mean the Patriots slip down to the three seed with a Houston Texans win. This is also a game to possibly get Brady back on track—something just seems to be off.
For the Bills, their game against the Dolphins is all about experience going into next season. They knew this was going to be a rebuilding year so it is another opportunity for Josh Allen to get reps under center and improve on his rookie season. A win would clinch the third spot in the division.
New York Jets
Much like the Bills, this is a game for rookie Sam Darnold to get more practice in against the Patriots. Darnold has looked good lately so another good showing against New England would give him a lot of confidence going into the off-season. This is also a game for Todd Bowles to deliver one last positive note at the end of the season. With all the talk about him being on the hot seat, a win against the Patriots may be able to save his job. The team can also move past the Bills in the division with a win and a Buffalo loss.
The Dolphins will be in an interesting position this off season, depending on how the game against the Bills shape out. A win would give them the average 8-8 finish on a season where the playoffs would have been a possibility with a couple more wins. The big storyline to follow after the game will be the rumors about who is staying and going because a couple big names are already being talked about. Both quarterback Ryan Tannehill and head coach Adam Gase have been mentioned about possibly no longer being with the team next season, as is Executive VP of Football Operation Mike Tannenbaum. Miami has already locked itself in as the second-place team in the division, so this game is more about impressing the front office to cement spots for next season.