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AFC East roundup: Bills clinch division; field chases playoffs

Buffalo has punched its playoff ticket, and the rest of the AFC East seeks to follow suit in the final two weeks of the season

Syndication: Palm Beach Post Bill Ingram / USA TODAY NETWORK

We hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas weekend of football. The AFC East was all in action over the weekend, with the AFC playoff picture starting to take shape.

The Buffalo Bills were able to clinch the AFC East title for the third season in a row after defeating the Chicago Bears to pull their record to 12-3. However, even though the division has been decided there are still a lot of playoff possibilities for each of the teams.

For the Bills, the division title is already theirs, but they have bigger goals in mind. They still control their own destiny for the No. 1 seed in the conference this year. The formula is simple: win your last two games, and the first-round bye will be yours. One issue there: Buffalo has a huge matchup this week with the 11-4 Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football. A loss against the Bengals would drop the Bills down to the third seed in the conference if the Kansas City Chiefs were to win in Week 17. Seeding is always a huge deal, especially when only the top seed gets a week off.

The Miami Dolphins saw a major opportunity slip away against the Green Bay Packers. Miami was sitting pretty at 8-3 to start December, and had their eyes on a possible division title. After dropping four straight games, however, they are 8-7 and just trying to just hold on to a Wild Card spot. If the Los Angeles Chargers were to win on Monday night, they would clinch a playoff berth. That would leave only one Wild Card spot left. The good news for Dolphins fans is that if the team wins their last two games, then they will clinch a playoff berth. It won’t be easy, though, as those games are against the New England Patriots and the New York Jets. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has had a rough month, but if he can get his performance back on track, then this football team will make a run at it.

The Patriots, 7-8 and losers of their last two games, also saw an opportunity slip away against the Bengals. New England was trailing 22-0 at one point, but then made a comeback bid late in the fourth quarter. The Patriots had chance at the five-yard line to take the lead, but running back Rhamondre Stevenson fumbled the ball, halting hopes at a comeback. They have games left against Miami and Buffalo to close the season, but they need help to make the playoffs.

Lastly, we have the Jets, who are 7-8 and losers of four straight games. They are hoping that quarterback Mike White will be healthy enough for the last two weeks of the season. It’s clear that Zach Wilson is not the answer after being booed out of their game in the third quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The team still has a shot for the Wild Card, playing the Seattle Seahawks and the Dolphins in their final two games, but they’ll need additional help, as well.

It will be a race to the finish line for sure, as seeding in the AFC can shift in multiple ways the last two weeks of the season.

AFC East standings, Week 17

1 z — Buffalo Bills 12-3 3-2 8-2 +157 W6 5-0
2 Miami Dolphins 8-7 2-2 6-4 -5 L4 1-4
3 New England Patriots 7-8 2-2 5-5 +27 L2 1-4
4 New York Jets 7-8 2-3 5-6 +2 L4 1-4