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Why the Patriots, Bills, Jets and Dolphins can win – or lose – the AFC East

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The AFC playoff compass points east.

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The AFC East wins at such a historic rate that all four teams — the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots — qualify for the postseason if the regular season ends this week. This has never happened in any division, dating back to the NFL-AFL merger in 1970, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

Likewise, no division in history has produced a season in which every team finished with a winning record, which is the current situation. The first-place Dolphins (7-3) and the last-place Nationals (5-4) are separated by the narrowest of margins with the 6-3 Bills and Jets sandwiched between them.

To paraphrase Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells, who led the Patriots and Jets in the 1990s, teams are “stacked like club sandwiches.”

“It’s a very good split,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said. “Obviously, New England, they’re not going anywhere anytime soon like Bill [Belichick] He is the head coach. I suspect [coach Mike] McDaniel is doing a great job in Miami. They are full of talent. Obviously, buffalo is also loaded. It is a loaded division. … Each team has an identity that stands out on the tape.”

The last eight weeks are going to be great in the Wilderness and Wild East.

Here’s a closer look at the section, courtesy of ESPN NFL Nation correspondents Rich Cimini, Alina Getzenberg, Marcel Louis-Jacques, and Mike Reiss.

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1:39

Stephen A. disagrees. Smith and Herm Edwards on whether Tua Tagovailoa is a top-five quarterback right now.

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Miami Dolphins (7-3)

Why the Dolphins can win the AFC East

When their running game complements their passing game, there may be no NFL defense that can stop them. And if their defense plays the way it did on Sunday in their 39-17 win over the Cleveland Browns, they could be the best team in the league – forget the division. quarterback Toa TagovailoaHis effective play sparked an offense full of playmakers, and he’s a legitimate MVP candidate.

Why are dolphins endangered?

Because we haven’t seen a steady production of their defense in 10 weeks. Leaving the AFC means having to shut out offenses like Buffalo and Kansas City. There’s no question Miami can keep up with either team in a shootout, but in the end, their defense has to be able to stop.

What was the first thing Coach Mike McDaniel did to turn things around in favor of the first-place Dolphins, who are off to their best start since 2001?

Far from anything he’s done on the sidelines, McDaniel has cultivated a culture of trust, support, and accountability throughout the Dolphins organization. The team has responded to his demeanor in the face of adversity and now seems to have confidence in him after a slew of one-score victories. Tagovailoa said it was McDaniel’s attitude after three straight losses (Weeks 4-6) that underscored his confidence in the first-year coach — who he said has remained consistent.

On the field, McDaniel has proven to be a great player who understands his players and puts them in a position to succeed. The Dolphins recorded 3,915 yards this season—their second-most by a 10-game drive in franchise history—meaning a Tagovailoa-record production and wide receiver Terek Hill. At this rate, McDaniel could be in the coach of the year conversation at the end of the season. – Marcel Louis Jacques


Buffalo Bills (6-3)

Why the Bills can win the AFC East title

Before the Bills’ bye in Week 7, they had a strong case for being the best team in the league. When quarterback Josh Allen He clicks, the attack looks unbeatable, and in defense, the addition of fullbacks by miller It proved to be a huge positive, as Buffalo found early success by not needing the blitz. The Bills also had the depth to offset injuries.

Why bills are at risk

Right now, it’s a midfielder’s game, because a lot revolves around that position. Allen passes a rough stretch with six interceptions and one lost in the past three games. He threw two interceptions in three straight games for the first time in his career, and corrections are needed to return to MVP candidate form.

the Bills 2-3 in one game; What’s wrong with the endgame?

The Bills’ second-half woes became such a problem that coach Sean McDermott spent time Monday going over what exactly upset the team in the last two quarters and in overtime. There are two major concerns.

Red zone turnover rates are a major issue, including Allen’s selections in the end zone in Sunday’s 33-30 loss to the Vikings. The Bills have also allowed teams to crawl back into games through the floor since their Week 7 bye. The defense has allowed the NFL’s highest yards per rush overall (5.9), inside tackles (6.9) and after contact (2.8) since Week 8.

“During the meeting, we were one of the best teams in the second half, both offensively and defensively,” McDermott said. “Obviously we’ve done this before, now we’ve taken a step back and now we have to reassess and make the appropriate adjustments.”

The Bills still have the best point differential in the league (+99), but both sides of the ball have given opponents chances to stay and win in close games. That must be rectified with four matches against East Asia still to come. – Alaina Getzenberg


New York Jets (6-3)

Why can the Jets win the AFC East Championship?

They are a physical group that can play defense for any team in the league; The kind of formula you want in the colder months. They’re 4-0 on the road, which is significant because five of their eight remaining games are away from MetLife Stadium.

“When we give our best, it’s hard to beat,” he said Connor McGovern He said.

They also have to get healthier, with injured starters – the receiver Corey Davisoffensive tackle George Fant and defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins – He is scheduled to return in the coming weeks.

Why are planes weak?

many reasons.

quarterback Zack Wilson He is 5-1 as a starter, but there is still a sense that he could implode at any moment. He lacks the consistency of a battle-tested quarterback. The Jets have the 12th toughest remaining schedule in the league, with an aggregate opponents record of 41-35. They’re only 2-3 at home, so the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars won’t be greats. They have entertained reserve players in 3½ of their six wins.

Do the Jets have the right recipe for offense – without the exciting rookie RB Bryce Hall – to win?

It will be challenging because Hall offered great dimension, a level of explosiveness that made up for shortcomings in other areas. Michael Carter And the James Robinson They are efficient running defenders, but do not have a game-breaking speed. Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur will have to plan different ways to make the running game more unpredictable.

The Jets have enough playmakers on the perimeter to be dangerous, but they need a reliable second option to complement their rookie wide receiver. Garrett Wilson. Davis could be that guy, assuming he’s healthy. They need to find a role for WR Elijah Moore, who has become the Invisible Man since his ill-timed commercial. Moore is too good to be ignored week after week.

In the end, it’s up to Zack Wilson. No doubt he’s improved from his rookie season, but can you count on a quarterback with just 4 assists in six games (5 IQ)?

Saleh defended Wilson, saying the media and fans are “holding him hostage” over his three-way game against the Patriots in Week 8. Wilson will have a chance to prove his coach right, as he gets a rematch with New England on Sunday. – Rich Cimini


New England Patriots (5-4)

Why the Patriots can win the AFC East

health. Coming off their bye week, they have nearly all of their best players available for the back half of the table. Too much football can just be a battle of attrition. No IR starters this season and the expected return of the starting position David Andrews (concussion), receiver start Devante Parker (knee) and defensive line Christian Barmore (knee) amplify this point.

Why are the Patriots vulnerable?

They just didn’t put it together offense and quarterback Mac Jones He did not look comfortable in the revamped offense put in place by quarterback Matt Patricia and quarterbacks coach Joe Judge, taking over from former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Over five games, Jones totals 111 of 168 for 1,140 yards, with four touchdowns and seven interceptions. And he had 13 interceptions in 17 games last season.

What needs to happen on offense for the Patriots to make the short jump from last to first?

They are at their offensive best when they run the ball, setting up passing play opportunities. This will allow them to supplement defense/special teams, which have been a strength of this season’s team. That’s how they began their surprising run to the Super Bowl championship in the 2018 season, reinventing themselves late in that season.

A lower turnover (17) will be a necessity along the way.

“If each individual player improves, we can kind of put that together as a team, obviously offense, and then kind of kick off the back half of the year here,” Jones said. – Mike Reese

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