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AFC East Report: Week 15; Patriots title streak continues as Jets get eliminated from playoff contention

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Take a look at what happened around the division in week 15.

New York Jets vs New Orleans Saints Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The race for the AFC East title is over: The New England Patriots, thanks to their come-from-behind victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers have captured the division crown for the ninth straight season, extending their unprecedented streak of dominance within the division. As a result, the other teams – with one exception – in the AFC East are left to play for second place and what at best appears to be one potential playoff spot.

Before getting ahead of ourselves, let's take a look at the 15th installment of this year's AFC East Report.

2. Buffalo Bills (8-6)

Week 15: win (24-16 against the Miami Dolphins, in Miami Gardens FL)

The Bills are able to keep their playoff hopes alive thanks to their second straight win. Sunday's 24-16 victory over the visiting Dolphins improves Buffalo's record to 8-6 and keeps the team in the hunt for its first postseason birth of the 21st century: The Bills have the same record as the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens but are currently out of the playoff picture as the number seven seed.

Buffalo started its game versus Miami well. After receiving the opening kickoff, Sean McDermott's team marched right down the field in 10 plays to take a 7-0 lead on a 4-yard run by LeSean McCoy (24 touches/96 yds, 2 TDs). But while the defense followed up with a punt, the Bills could not keep the tempo of their first start and saw Miami cut the deficit to 7-6 midway through the second quarter.

At that point, Buffalo's offense started to come back to life. The unit answered the Dolphins' second field goal with an 8-play, 75-yard series that was capped by a 16-yard touchdown pass from Tyrod Taylor (17/29, 224 yds, 1 TD) to McCoy. And the Bills were not done yet, driving 80 yards in just 1:50 to take a 21-6 halftime lead when Taylor found the endzone from nine yards out.

Momentum continued to stay on the home team's side as Buffalo's defense registered back-to-back interceptions to open the second half: First, it was safety Jordan Poyer, one series later cornerback Shareece Wright. The second pick set up a Bills field goal to increase the lead to 18 points. Buffalo, however, was unable to put Miami away for good and saw the visitors score their first touchdown midway through the final period.

The Bills responded with a punt and in return gave up a 17-play drive that took only 3:54 off the clock and turned the contest into a one-possession game. But despite Miami recovering the ensuing onside kick, it was still the Bills who came away victoriously: Rookie Tre'Davious White registered Buffalo's third interception of the day to ice the contest in the home team's favor.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

3. Miami Dolphins (6-8)

Week 15: loss (24-16 against the Miami Dolphins, in Miami Gardens FL)

Mathematically speaking, the Dolphins still have a shot at the playoffs despite dropping Sunday's game in Buffalo. However, the team has to win both its upcoming games while its competitors – the Bills, Titans and Oakland Raiders – simultaneously have to lose all of theirs. Safe to say, this will highly likely not be happening and week 15's loss all but sealed Miami's fate.

For a team fighting for its playoff life, the Dolphins started their game versus the Bills too slowly. The home team quickly went up 7-0 on the opening drive and it took the visitors until late in the first quarter to properly respond: A 7-play, 50-yard drive capped by a Cody Parkey (3/3) field goal put Miami on the board. On the very next possession, Parkey made it a one-point game. The 7-6 score was short-lived, though.

Miami's defense gave up back-to-back touchdown drives to the Bills, while the offense failed to get into scoring range again before halftime. Consequently, the Dolphins entered intermission down 21-6 – and things did not get any better in the third period. On its first two possessions of the second half, Miami's offense turned the football over; both times Jay Cutler (28/49, 274 yds, 3 INTs) threw interceptions.

While the first pick did not lead to any points, the second did and the Dolphins found themselves down 24-6 with only 20 minutes left in regulation – and it took Miami 12 minutes to cut into its deficit. With eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Kenyan Drake (16/78 yds, 1 TD) scored the first touchdown for Adam Gase's team, before the defense forced a punt to set up another scoring drive.

Miami's offense marched 78 yards in 17 plays to score another field goal and keep the team's chances alive. After recovering the ensuing onside kick, the Dolphins were 58 yards away from tying the 8-point game. However, their hopes quickly shattered when Cutler threw his third pick of the day on the very next play from scrimmage. In the end, turnovers made the difference in what was statistically an even matchup.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

4. New York Jets (5-9)

Week 15: loss (31-19 against the New Orleans Saints, in New Orleans LA)

While the Bills and Dolphins are still in contention for a playoff spot, the Jets were eliminated this week courtesy of their 31-19 defeat at the hands of the Saints. And even though Gang Green played a competitive game in the first game since putting starting quarterback Josh McCown on injured reserve, it was not enough to beat one of the league’s best teams on the road and keep the slim postseason hopes alive.

The contest began badly for New York: First, the defense gave up a 54-yard run to set up an early Saints field goal. The Jets' then surrendered a 13-play drive capped by a touchdown. However, New York's offensive finally started to fight back and answered by driving 12 plays of their own, to make it a 10-7 game on a Bilal Powell (13/44 yds, 1 TD) scoring run. New Orleans replied with a touchdown of its own before the two teams' defenses started to catch up – particularly New York's.

Leonard Williams recorded an interception late in the second quarter to set up the offense inside the Saints' 15-yard line. And while the ensuing three plays netted no yardage, the Jets were still able to score three points off a Chandler Catanzaro (2/2) field goal and head into halftime down 17-10. Catanzaro also scored midway through the third period to bring his team within four points.

New York was in a position to drive for the lead one series later but gave the ball away on an interception by Bryce Petty (19/39, 179 yds, 1 TD, 2 INTs). Instead of a potential lead-change, the Saints suddenly were in a position to add to the Jets' deficit. However, the visitors' defense came up big to spoil scoring opportunities for the home team – on consecutive drives. First, Jamal Adams and Jordan Jenkins registered a forced fumble and recovery; on the next series, Buster Skrine did the same.

Unfortunately for the Jets, neither play led to points. Instead, the Saints increased their lead to 24-13 midway through the final period. It took the Jets until the two-minute warning to come closer: Petty connected with Elijah McGuire (7 touches/72 yds, 1 TD) to bring New York within five but the offense failed to convert the ensuing two-pointer. Instead, after an unsuccessful onside kick, New Orleans iced the game with a 50-yard touchdown run before Petty threw his second pick of the day.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.