The AFC East has been unpredictable in 2013 outside of the New England Patriots. Three teams were in varying stages of rebuilding and now the Dolphins and Jets meet in a game that will define whether Miami can make the playoffs for the first time in five years.
Meet the Miami Dolphins
Miami had a chance to solidify its playoff spot in 2013, but lost in shocking fashion to the Buffalo Bills in a 19-0 shutout. That game served as an example of their season, fluctuating reliability and inability for much of the year.
This team has a slate full of signature wins. The Dolphins beat the Patriots, Bengals and Colts -- but also lost easily won games against the Buccaneers, Bills and Ravens. A locker room controversy paired with unreliable offense line hasn't given Ryan Tannehill a lot of chances, but he was one of the league's best young quarterbacks this season.
Meet the New York Jets
One thing is clear: Jets players really like head coach Rex Ryan. This isn't new information, with Ryan regarded as one of the most beloved player coaches in the NFL. Now it's unclear if he will return in 2014, giving the team plenty of motivation to close out the season strongly.
Many of the team's problems stem from being forced to play rookie quarterback Geno Smith before he was ready. An injury to Mark Sanchez thrust him into the role early, and the result has been a lot of mediocre performances with ample interceptions. This Week 17 matchup gives the Jets a chance to assert themselves, and an opportunity for Smith to show he can be a long-term option at quarterback.
Local Takes: Miami Dolphins
Kevin Nogle from The Phinsider explained how no team in the AFC has a clear road to the playoffs.
No team controls their own destiny when it comes to the sixth seed next weekend. The Dolphins will need a win and a Baltimore loss or a San Diego win to claim the spot. The Ravens need a win and either a loss from Miami or San Diego. The Chargers need to win and see both Miami and Baltimore lose. And, Pittsburgh will need a loss from all three teams in front of them.
Local Takes: New York Jets
Two of the most penalized players in the league are on the Jets roster, and Scott Salmon of Gang Green Nation took a look.
Of the most frequently penalized players, current Jets Antonio Cromartie (32) and Willie Colon (30) are on the list, however Cromartie came to the team in 2010 and Colon in 2013, so some of those penalties come from their previous teams. Of the top twenty-one penalized players, four are defensive backs and ten are offensive linemen, so Cromartie and Colon aren't too surprising, just based on their position, which are penalized more often than any other group.
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All right, @LegerDouzable needs to keep getting sacks. We love that dance!— Gang Green Nation (@GangGreenNation) December 26, 2013
SB Nation is heavily leaning towards Miami, with four of the five panelists picking a Dolphins win.
The Miami Dolphins are 6.5-point favorites, according to OddsShark. Some outlets are offering 5.5 points.
The playoffs begin next week. New York will miss the postseason once again, while the Dolphins need a win and some luck to keep their hopes alive.