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AFC East Report: Week 8; Bills follow the Patriots step by step

Let's take a look at this week's divisional happenings.

Oakland Raiders v Buffalo Bills Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The first eight weeks of the 2017 NFL season have come and gone – and the AFC East is looking like it did for the majority of the 21st century: with the New England Patriots on top. However, the 6-2 Patriots are closely followed by the 5-2 Bills, who are in a position to tie New England's record and actually overtake the team in the standings this week.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, though, let's take a look at this week's installment of the AFC East Report.

2. Buffalo Bills (5-2)

Week 8: win (34-14 against the Oakland Raiders, in Orchard Park NY)

The Bills continue to be the Patriots' main competition in the AFC East and are still on the reigning world champions' heels, due to their 34-14 victory over the visiting Raiders. Buffalo's recipe was the same as it has been all year long: limiting mistakes in all three phases of the game while simultaneously taking advantage of opponents' miscues. On Sunday, this opportunistic approach was on display yet again.

The contest started with Oakland receiving the opening kickoff and marching right down the field to take a 7-0 lead. It was a near-flawless offensive series but one that also was a sign of things to come: While the visitors moved the football well at times, they had a hard time adjusting to the wet conditions. Buffalo fared better in that area even though it took the offense until the second quarter to respond: The final play of a nine-play, 64-yard drive - a 6-yard pass from Tyrod Taylor (20/27, 165 yds, 1 TD) to Andre Holmes (3/51 yds, 1 TD) - tied the contest.

At this point, the Bills offense had already started to considerably slow down Oakland's potent offense; the unit made its first big play late in the second series. Cornerback Leonard Johnson forced a Raiders fumble that was recovered by linebacker Matt Milano for a 40-yard scoop-and-score. With a mere 32 seconds left in the first half, Buffalo thus took a 14-7 lead - one that would grow to 17-7 set up by a fumble recovery on an early second half punt.

Buffalo continued to take advantage of Oakland's mistakes. After fumbling away a possession one drive earlier, Oakland's first series of the second half also ended in a turnover when Micah Hyde intercepted a pass to set up Stephen Hauschka's (2/2) second straight field goal. Following a Raiders three-and-out, the Bills then drove 80 yards in 12 plays, capped by a one-yard run by Taylor. Oakland responded with a touchdown of its own but failed to convert a critical 4th and 3 on its next series.

Instead, the very next offensive play gave the home team a 34-14 lead: LeSean McCoy (27/151 yds, 1 TD) scored on a 48-yard scamper. Buffalo's defense registered another takeaway on the ensuing drive - an interception by Trae Elston - to put the icing on the cake. Due to the victory, the 5-2 Bills are in the middle of the playoff hunt and could toe the Patriots next week versus the Jets.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

3. Miami Dolphins (4-3)

Week 8: loss (40-0 against the Baltimore Ravens, in Baltimore MD)

Their first of three straight primetime games was a debacle for the Dolphins; an embarrassment in front of a national audience. Not only did the team get shut out 40-0, two of Miami's defenders - Kiko Alonso and Ndamukong Suh - also made headlines for knocking Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (10/15, 101 yds, 1 TD) out of the game and choking his backup Ryan Mallett (3/7, 20 yds, 1 TD), respectively. In short: It was a meltdown through and through.

The game started as a defensive stalemate that saw neither team effectively move the football. While the home team was able to take a 7-0 lead midway through the first period, the contest did not become more exiting as both offenses continued to struggle stringing consecutive positive plays together. However, the battle for field position slowly tilted in the Ravens' favor and the team scored two field goals in the early second period.

At that point, Miami's offense - led by backup quarterback Matt Moore (25/44, 176, 2 INTs) - finally started to show some signs of life. However, the team's first trip into scoring range ended with a missed field goal. Baltimore was able to take advantage of the solid field position and, after seeing its quarterback taken out of the game, went up 20-0 late in the second quarter - a score that would remain unchanged until the final period.

In between, the Dolphins and Ravens both faced major issues when in possession of the football. The third quarter did see Miami's best play of the day, though: blocking a Baltimore field goal attempt. It was the lone highlight on an otherwise miserable night for Adam Gase's team, which saw the score move to 26-0 after Moore threw a pick-six early in quarter four. Miami then failed to convert a 4th and 6, setting up another Ravens touchdown.

Finally, Moore threw his second pick-six to finalize the 40-0 score with which the game ended. Because of the loss, Miami, which gained a mere 196 yards and opted to trade away semi-productive running back Jay Ajayi (13/23 yds) prior to the trade deadline, falls to 4-3 heading into its next primetime contest; this time against the Oakland Raiders.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

4. New York Jets (3-5)

Week 8: loss (25-20 against the Atlanta Falcons, in East Rutherford NJ)

New York was the final stop on the Falcons' four-week tour of the AFC East. As opposed to their last three games against the division (four if you count the Super Bowl), the defending NFC champions were able to earn a victory this time around, though. Atlanta snapping its losing streak came at the expense of the Jets, despite the game starting well for the home team.

Todd Bowles' squad received the opening kickoff and eight plays and 75 yards later was up 7-0 thanks to a touchdown pass from Josh McCown (26/33, 257 yds, 2 TDs) to Eric Tomlinson (1/20 yds, 1 TD). New York was in a position to expand its lead after a Jordan Jenkins fumble recovery ended Atlanta's first possession but failed to capitalize on the takeaway after missing a field goal attempt. Instead, the Falcons were able to tie the game on their next possession.

However, New York regained the lead in the second quarter after another defensive takeaway; this one a fumble recovery by Jamal Adams (just like the first turnover a result of a botched Falcons snap). Atlanta once more was able to tie the game before the Jets went up 17-10 on a scoring pass to Robby Anderson (6/104 yds, 1 TD). Prior to the half, the Falcons were able to score another field goal and New York headed into the locker room up by four.

The second half began with each team punting twice before Atlanta added its third field goal to the scoreboard. The Jets answered by driving into scoring range but Chandler Catanzaro (2/4) missed his second field goal try. With solid field position resulting from the miss, it took the Falcons only four plays to take a 22-17 lead early in the fourth period. New York cut the deficit to two before making yet another special teams mistake.

After a quick three-and-out would have given the Jets the football back with more than six minutes to play, Jeremy Kerley (1/7 yds) muffed a punt that was recovered by Atlanta. The visitors were able to add another field goal - a deficit New York was unable to overcome in the game's final minutes. Therefore, the team finds itself at 3-5 heading into a Thursday night game against the Bills.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.