With their Sunday Night victory over the Houston Texans, the New England Patriots got themselves back on the right track, and with some help from the Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders, regained control of the #1 seed in the AFC. And while they were able to clinch a playoff spot last night by notching their 11th win of 2015, making them the first AFC team to secure a place in the postseason, a win by the New York Jets over the lowly Titans means that New England hasn't been able to clinch the East.
Tonight's Monday Night Football game features the New York Giants, losers of three straight, traveling down to Miami to face the Dolphins, who barely eked out a win against the newly-elminated Baltimore Ravens. Patriots fans find themselves in pretty warm waters heading into this game, as no matter what happens there's plenty to be happy about.
First, if the Giants beat the Dolphins, the Patriots will win the AFC East. With the Patriots at 11 wins and the Jets at 5 losses, the worst the Pats can finish is also the best the Jets can finish: 11-5. Should this unlikely scenario happen, it would come down to a laundry list of tiebreaking scenarios to determine playoff seeding. And sixth on that list, "strength of schedule," is where a Giants victory would clinch the division for the Patriots. So a win from the G-men tonight means all the Pats have to worry about is getting a playoff bye going forward. So that's a win.
On the flip side, with a Dolphins win here, the Giants' chances of making the playoffs virtually disappear. With the way the NFL played out this week, particularly with wins by the Redskins and Eagles, a 5-8 Giants team would need an absolutely insane amount of help in order to win the division. Only one team is coming out of the NFC East, and with divisional matchups coming for all teams, the last few weeks are going to be extremely interesting. It will be significantly less so - and significantly less stressful for yours truly - if the Fins take care of business tonight.
Now I know how this looks; what kind of moron would root for the Dolphins to win tonight when a Giants win would clinch the division?
Well I'll tell you what kind of moron would do that: me.
I'm on record several times as saying I'm terrified of the Giants in the postseason and don't want to see Tom Brady play them ever again. So I would have no problem waiting an extra week for a home game against Tennessee to lock up the AFC East. Obviously, I'll be happy if the hat and T-shirt comes out this evening as well, but the bottom line is that I'm going to have a lot of reason to celebrate no matter what happens tonight.
Of course, knowing my luck, these two teams will probably tie.