The AFC East has the proud distinction of being the best division in the AFC. Don’t laugh. They’re the only division without a team with a losing record. The New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, and New York Jets are tied at the top with 3-2 records and the Miami Dolphins are 2-2.
At the end of the day, it’s all about wins and losses, right?
Just kidding. Despite the AFC East’s collective record, there’s plenty not to like about the division. The Dolphins (32nd in yards, 32nd in points), Bills (31st in yards, 25th in points), and Jets (26th in yards, 23rd in points) all have bottom-10 offenses. The Patriots (32nd in yards, 30th in points) have arguably the worst defense in the NFL.
The Dolphins and Jets have been fortunate enough to feast on the lowest rated teams in the other divisions, along with one another, while the Patriots and Bills have had to face some of the toughest teams in the league.
If the Bills weren’t the Bills, I would say that they were the best team in the AFC East based on their wins over the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons; their loss to the Carolina Panthers seems more reasonable as of late and their offense took a nosedive against the lowly Cincinnati Bengals when tight end Charles Clay suffered a serious knee injury. It happens.
But since the Bills are the Bills, we can all expect there to be a quarterback controversy around week 10 and for the offense to infuriatingly fail to provide an excellent defense with the scoring it requires. They’re basically back to the pre-Rex Ryan Bills and should be one game above or below .500 by the end of the year.
The Patriots, for all their warts, are clearly the class of the division and their two losses have come against the Kansas City Chiefs and the Panthers, that have a combined record of 7-1 against non-Patriot teams in 2017. They’re good opponents that had good days, while the Patriots defense struggled to find its footing.
I’m simply far more confident in the Patriots defense finally turning a corner and being “average”- which would be enough to make the Patriots the league frontrunner again- than I am in the Bills finally having a consistent offense.
As for the worst team in the division, I’m going to go with the Patriots opponent this week in the New York Jets. Don’t get me wrong, the Dolphins are terrible, too. Jay Cutler looks like he’s still retired, but at least Miami has a solid defense that ranks 4th in the league in points allowed and 8th in yards allowed.
The Jets even managed to beat the Dolphins, which shows how little separates these two teams.
But the Jets have a bottom 10 offense and a bottom 10 defense. They can’t throw the ball and they can’t stop the run. If the Cleveland Browns had an offense ranked better than 31st, they would’ve pasted the Jets last week.
The Browns fumbled on the Jets 3-yard line, missed a 52-yard field goal, threw an interception on the Jets 4-yard line, and missed a 39-yard field goal on consecutive drives in the first half, before scoring a touchdown on their next drive. After throwing another interception, the Browns then failed to convert a fourth-and-2 from the Jets 4-yard line, handing the ball over again.
Read that again. The Browns reached inside the Jets 5-yard line three times and walked away with zero points. A competent offense would have scored nearly 40 points on the Jets and that’s what the Patriots are hopefully going to expose this weekend.
The Patriots are the best team of the AFC East and the Bills are a league-average squad, while the Dolphins and Jets are fortunate that the Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts exist, or else they’d be the worst teams in the conference.