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AFC East Report week 8: Patriots’ division lead increases as Dolphins drop fourth game of the season

Notes from around the division.

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Houston Texans Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Seven weeks into the 2018 regular season, the AFC East looks like it has for most of the last two decades: the New England Patriots reside comfortably at the top of the standings while the team’s three rivals are moving somewhere between .500 and already being in a position to start looking ahead to the draft. Before getting ahead of ourselves, however, let’s take a look at what happened this week in the latest edition of the AFC East Report:

1. New England Patriots (6-2)

Week 8: 25-6 win against the Buffalo Bills, in Orchard Park NY

Patriots vs Bills: New England defeats Buffalo with 25-6 final score

Patriots vs Bills: Who gets the game ball for New England’s 25-6 win?

5 takeaways from the Patriots 25-6 victory over the Bills

Quick-hit thoughts on the Patriots’ 25-6 win over the Bills

8 winners and 4 losers from New England’s 25-6 win against Buffalo

Thanks to Devin McCourty, the Patriots covered the spread against the Bills

Patriots vs Bills snap count report: Reported discipline did not impact Josh Gordon’s playing time

Patriots vs. Bills: Fan Notes from the Game

Patriots accomplish some season firsts during their 25-6 win against the Bills

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

2. Miami Dolphins (4-4)

Week 8: 42-23 loss against the Houston Texans, in Houston TX

Since starting the year with a perfect 3-0 record, the Miami Dolphins have dropped four of their last five games. The latest of the team’s defeats came on Thursday night at the hands of the Houston Texans, who blew out Adam Gase’s squad 42-23. As a result, the Dolphins now find themselves at 4-4 on the year and are already looking up in the race for a wild card playoff spot — and the momentum is certainly not on the team’s side at the moment either.

Miami, again with backup Brock Osweiler (21/37, 241 yds, 1 INT) under center, began the game on offense and actually moved the football well early on. However, the opening drive stalled when the team failed to convert a 4th and 1 in Houston territory. The Dolphins’ next series again saw the team drive down the field, and this time it actually scored thanks to a 12-yard touchdown run by Kenyan Drake (14 touches/95 yds, 2 TDs). Unfortunately for Miami, things started to go downhill from that point on.

After the Texans tied the game, Osweiler threw an interception deep on the Dolphins’ side of the field that was converted into a Houston touchdown just two plays later. Miami was able to answer with a field goal but was lucky that a fumble by Osweiler late in the second period – one that would have been recovered by the Texans for a touchdown – was instead ruled an incomplete pass. As a result, Miami was down by just four point entering halftime.

Coming out of intermission, the deficit went up to 11 when the team’s defense surrendered a six-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. This time, Miami’s offense responded appropriately: a fake screen ended with ex-Patriot Danny Amendola (5/43 yds) throwing a 28-yard touchdown pass to Drake to make it a 21-17 game. However, the score did not stand long as the Dolphins’ defense surrendered a touchdown – a 73-yard pass – just two plays after Amendola’s.

A subsequent Miami field goal made the contest a one-possession game again, but the team’s defense once more failed to stop the Texans on the next series: another long touchdown pass – this time from 49 yards out – put the team coached by former Patriots assistant Bill O’Brien up 35-20. After another Dolphins field goal, Houston scored its next touchdown; one that effectively iced the game in the home team’s favor.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

3. New York Jets (3-5)

Week 8: 24-10 loss against the Chicago Bears, in Chicago IL

The New York Jets’ inconsistent season continued on Sunday against the Chicago Bears. While the team can draw some positives from the game – the offense did not turn the football over, the defense was competitive for stretches – it failed to string together enough plays to seriously challenge the Bears on the road. Part of the problem was, once again, a Jets offense that went just 3 of 14 on third down, was forced to punt eight times, and at the end of the day scored a mere 10 points.

After New York opened the contest with a three-and-out, Chicago drove right down the field but came away empty when it missed a 40-yard field goal attempt. The Jets could not take advantage, though, and after another quick series had to watch the home team drive 88 yards in just three plays to go up 7-0. After Gang Green scored a field goal on the very next drive, the game turned into a punt-fest: the first half ended with six consecutive punts on both sides.

The second half began the same way, as the teams exchanged punts before the Bears began to find some success against New York’s defense. The result was a nine-play, 55-yard drive that ended with the game’s second touchdown – one that put New York in an 11-point hole midway through the third quarter. After another Jets punt, the Bears added to their lead and scored a field goal to go up 17-3 early in the fourth period.

Down two scores, the Jets offense produced its best series of the game. The unit marched 75 yards in eight plays, capped by a touchdown pass from rookie quarterback Sam Darnold (14/29, 153 yds, 1 TD) to rookie tight end Chris Herndon (1/16 yds, 1 TD). However, the team was unable to take advantage of the momentum shifting slightly to its side: the defense gave up another long touchdown drive that made the contest a two-possession game again.

The Jets offense failed to answer and after the eighth punt saw Chicago run down the clock to the two-minute warning. The ensuing New York drive produced no points and ended as time ran out.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

4. Buffalo Bills (2-6)

Week 8: 25-6 loss against the New England Patriots, in Orchard Park NY

Notes from Buffalo Rumblings:

Buffalo Bills 6, New England Patriots 25: Rapid reaction and notes

Five observations: Buffalo Bills lost to New England Patriots

Snap Counts: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills

To watch highlights of the game, click here.