(CBS Miami) – As the playoff race heats up, the AFC East starts off the same as it did before last season. The New England Patriots lead the league on the strength of five straight wins. The Buffalo Bills, thanks to some mid-season struggles, they had to look up to their peers. The Miami Dolphins are falling short of expectations, but it looks like it’s hit a niche in the short term as well. And the New York Jets are still one of the NFL’s worst teams.
Whether or not the division will return to shape remains to be seen. It could all be the product of another strange season of football. Week 12 can provide a bit more clarity. The Bills will try to figure things out against the New Orleans Saints. The Dolphins are the owners of the Carolina Panthers. The Patriots battle the Tennessee Titans in one of this week’s more exciting games. And the Jets battle the Houston Texans for a spot in next season’s draft.
All times listed are Eastern.
Buffalo Bills @ New Orleans Saints, Thursday, November 23, 8:20 p.m
After a trip to the AFC Championship last season, the Bills look set to run across the AFC East table this season. Josh Allen is becoming one of the top quarterbacks of the league with a variety of weapons at his disposal. Meanwhile, the Jets and Patriots have rookies at the helm, and the Dolphins are a sophomore QB with a lot of injuries and a limited history of success.
The Bills’ road back to the knockout stages, if it leads there, hasn’t been smooth so far. They have lost twice in the past three weeks, the first time 9-6 to the Jacksonville Jaguars and most recently 41-15 to the Indianapolis Colts. Josh Allen dribbled 21-35 for 20 metres, two touchdowns and two interceptions. The Bills turned the ball four times in the afternoon, resulting in three Colts TDs. Their usually solid defense – Buffalo allows for a league-low 283.7 yards per game – allowing Jonathan Taylor to score five times. The loss leaves them second in the table, one game behind the Patriots.
They will have the opportunity to exchange gifts in New Orleans on Thanksgiving Day. The Saints are suffering their own struggles, losing three games in a row and losing two to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Their most recent 40-29 defeat was at the hands of the resurgent Philadelphia Eagles. New Orleans’ top-running defense couldn’t stop Jalen Hurts rushing for three touchdowns and the Eagles plunging for 242 yards.
With quarterback Jameis Winston having done the off-season, Saints offense continues to worsen. Trevor Siemian throws 214 yards and 3 touches, but he needs 40 to complete 20 passes. And 22 of their 29 points come in Q4, when the game is basically over. Alvin Kamara’s return may help the Saints’ attack in Week 11. But will it be enough?
“I really like Bills at this point of return,” says Hartstein. “The Saints offense is completely broken without Winston. And whether Kamara comes back or not, he won’t be 100%. Even when he plays, the attacking line is injured. And almost their entire production comes at the end of the match against the Eagles. They are being blown away, while Bills should be in a nice rebounding position. They had four spins. They were stunned by Indianapolis. But this is a very good defense of the Saint against running away. But you can hit them with explosive plays. And with Stephon Diggs, Emmanuel Sanders and Josh Allen running and throwing, I like the Bills bouncing back and covering.”
Carolina Panthers @ Miami Dolphins, Sunday, November 28, 1:00pm
After beating the Patriots to open the season, the Dolphins have lost seven games in a row. But they are unbeaten in November. Their recent three-game winning streak includes wins over the Houston Texans, the Baltimore Ravens and the New York Jets. The defense scored just 12 points per game during that period. And Tassel
Tagovailoa went 27-33 for 273 yards and two TDs as a full-time midfielder in their most recent win.
While a win is a win in the standings, the Texans and Jets are among the NFL’s worst teams. However, Raven has legitimate hopes of making it to the knockout stages. Former NFL MVP Lamar Jackson is opinionated in taking home the award again. But the Dolphins limited him to 39 yards on nine carries, and one of the NFL’s top javelin errors was under 100 yards for the game.
“It’s been a fantastic three-game winning streak,” said Hartstein. “They turned the tide. Very beautiful. But remember, they played the Jets and Texans in that game. They had an incredible performance against Raven. But I just think they’re going to have a real hitch, and that’s Carolina’s pass defense, which is very elite. And that will make things difficult for Tua. So I’ll lean towards the Panthers and say the Dolphins’ winning streak ends at number three. “
The Panthers have also struggled during the season. Running back Christian McCaffrey has been under attack all year, and quarterback Sam Darnold seesaw before being sidelined with a shoulder injury. The team is now back in the hands of Cam Newton after a year away in New England. Newton, who started for the Patriots last season, led the Panthers to their second Super Bowl in 2015. He beat the Washington Soccer Team in the first game of the season. Newton goes 21-27 for 189 yards and twice TD while leading an attack he still hasn’t fully mastered.
They let a foul under Washington’s muscle pick them up on the other side of the ball. However, the league’s top Carolina pass defense should stop the Dolphins’ passing attack.
Tennessee Titans @ New England Patriots, Sunday, November 28, 1:00pm on CBS
Halfway through the season, the Titans-Patriots seem like a reasonable prediction for the AFC Championship. That’s much because what other teams haven’t done is what these teams have done. The Bills, Ravens, and Kansas City Chiefs all failed to show any consistency from week to week. The 8-3 Titans have somehow kept going after losing to Derrick Henry, at least until Week 11 is over. The Patriots, behind rookie defender Mac Jones, are blowing teams off the field.
“I think it’s three wins in a row, five wins in a row to get to the top of the AFC,” Hartstein said. “This team is rolling. They just crushed the Falcons with a score of 25-0, maybe they can beat them even more. And Tennessee got an embarrassing loss to the Texans. It’s a really flat position after six straight wins. So this line starts in New England -2.5 on the lookahead line. And then we have those two split results, with New England winning big and the Titans losing to Houston. And now we are seeing line 6, even 6.5 at some point. And Mike Vrabel, coming home to New England, he beat Bill Belichick 2-0. And Mike Vrabel thrives as an underdog. So while the Patriots look great, if you force me to pick this one, I lose points. ”
The Titans are experiencing a terrible loss that could indicate things to come. Ryan Tannehill finished 35-52 for 323 yards and a touchdown. He also threw four interceptions. Entering the match against the Patriots, top player Julio Jones is currently on the bench due to injury. Marcus Johnson made for the season. And AJ Brown is having a hamstring problem. The rerun committee approach was not as effective as the injured Henry.
On the other hand, the Patriots seem to be a team on the rise. Mac Jones is developing into an efficient passer, throwing just four unfinished throws per game in his last two games. One of them was the downing of the Cleveland Browns, the other was the destruction of the Atlanta Falcons. But their defense is also increasingly dominating. Their last three opponents have scored a total of 13 points. Outsiders Matt Judon ordered 10.5 sacks.
New York Jets @ Houston Texans, Sunday, November 28, 1:00pm on CBS
The Jets continued to limp through another losing season with few bright spots. One was a 34-31 win in a Week 12 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Another game was at times encouraging for rookie defender Zack Wilson, at least until he was sidelined with a knee injury. Wilson look set to return this week against the Texans. He will be looking to strengthen one of the NFL’s lowest-scoring fouls, though it may not matter with an even lower-scoring Houston team.
Texans are going out a surprising win overcame the Titans, ending their own eight-loss streak and Houston’s six-win streak in the process. Despite the win, the game didn’t give them much to celebrate. The Titans attacked 420 yards versus 190 yards for Texas. However, they were forced to make five turns for the second week in a row. That alone topped last season’s total of nine. And the Texans didn’t allow a sack for the first time this season. But in terms of yards, both units are still among the worst in the league.
But sometimes bad teams make a good game. Both teams are leading 2-8, and there is some reason to be optimistic, however fleeting.
“Sometimes you have to look at the worst teams in the league for value, and that’s what I think we’re seeing here,” admitted Hartstein. “Houston’s win over Tennessee was a mistake. I believe they have been adding years in terms of revenue. They have reached less than 200 meters. However, because they had that big win, they are now favored with three points. They shouldn’t be prioritizing three points over anyone, including the New York Jets, I think in this case you just take the points. These are two terrible teams. I think if you score a full goal on the field, you’ll score and you’ll be full. “
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https://denver.cbslocal.com/2021/11/24/sportsline-week-12-afc-east-picks-dolphins-bills-patriots-jets/ Larry Hartstein – CBS Denver says: ‘Dolphins’ win ends at age three