An updated look at the 2011 AFC East standings following week 13 of the 2011 NFL season:
1. New England Patriots (9-3, 3-1 in AFC East)
The Patriots clinched their eleventh straight winning season on Sunday with their 31-24 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. More importantly, they maintained their lead in the AFC East, which is essentially three games considering the team's sweep of the New York Jets and that the Buffalo Bills are all but officially out of the running. With a win against the Redskins Sunday and a New York Jets loss, the Patriots would clinch their third consecutive division title. The Jets do play the Chiefs, a game they will be heavily favored to win, but with each passing weak, the Patriots look like even more of a sure thing to make the playoffs.
2. New York Jets (7-5, 3-2 in AFC East)
The Jets have put themselves in position to once again make a run to the playoffs under head coach Rex Ryan. After suffering back-to-back painful defeats to the Patriots and Broncos to drop to 5-5, the Jets have won two straight against the Bills and Redskins. The Jets' remaining schedule includes the Chiefs, Eagles, Giants, and Dolphins. No, the Jets don't have a big margin for error, and the biggest thing working against them is that they lost head to head match-ups to both the Raiders and the Broncos who currently are both also 7-5. Still, one can't help but think that with the way that Ryan motivates his team in late season runs, that a possibility to win out and secure the #6 seed doesn't seem all that unrealistic for the Jets.
3. Buffalo Bills (5-7, 1-3 in AFC East)
So much for all that Fitzmagic. Ever since signing a six year, $59 million contract extension, Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick simply hasn't been the same, and neither have the Bills. They are currently on a five game losing streak, most recently dropping a 23-17 game to the Titans. Something about this team still makes me like them, but the writing is on the wall: their playoff hopes are dashed (even if they're not technically eliminated yet).
4. Miami Dolphins (4-8, 1-2 in AFC East)
Miami Dolphins' head coach Tony Sparano will likely be fired after this season, and I believe it's an outright shame. The Dolphins started the season with a ghastly 0-7 mark, but have since won four of their past five games. And they haven't just won games - they've completely dominated in all three phases of the game. They also should have beat Dallas on Thanksgiving night. At 4-8, they're all but officially eliminated from playoff contention. However, had a few things gone right this year, this team could have easily reversed that record and been 8-4. Quarterback Matt Moore his given the Phins a spark, and how coach Tony Sparano has continued to keep his players playing the way they is beyond me - but it truly is speaking a lot about him as a coach.