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AFC East Report: Bills are big winners of Week 11 without even playing

Related: Patriots vs Texans recap: Lackluster New England comes up short again, loses 27-20

New York Jets v Buffalo Bills Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The 11th week of NFL regular season action is in the books, which means that it is now also time for a new edition of the AFC East Report and for a look back at what happened in the New England Patriots’ division over the weekend — from the Buffalo Bills being the big winners without even playing, to the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets both joining the Patriots in losing one-score games on the road.

With that said, let’s dive straight in.

1. Buffalo Bills (7-3)

Week 11: Bye

Week 12: vs Los Angeles Chargers (3-7)

Week 13 at San Francisco 49ers (4-6)

Week 14 vs Pittsburgh Steelers (10-0)

Week 15 at Denver Broncos (4-6)

Week 16 at New England Patriots (4-6)

Week 17 vs Miami Dolphins (6-4)

As noted above, the Bills are the big winners of this week despite being on a bye: with the other three teams in the division all losing, Buffalo remains in comfortable first place within the AFC East — coming one step closer to winning the division for the first time since 1995. Coming out of the bye, the team will face two mediocre opponents before what projects to be a tough four-game stretch to close out the season. The final two games against New England and Miami could very well decide the division as well as its playoff participants.

2. Miami Dolphins (6-4)

Week 11: 20-13 loss to the Denver Broncos, in Denver CO

Coming off five straight games — including the last four with first-round rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa at the helm — Miami needed a victory to tie the Bills’ record atop the AFC East. Instead, however, Brian Flores’ team struggled on both sides of the ball and eventually lost by a touchdown to drop to 6-4 on the year.

The game did start well for the Dolphins, though. While they did go three-and-out on their opening drive, an interception by Xavien Howard gave the offense the ball back quickly and in terrific field position: five plays and 22 yards later, the team was in the end zone courtesy of a 3-yard scoring pass from Tagovailoa to DeVante Parker. After both teams exchanged punts, however, Denver was able to tie the score on an 11-play, 73-yard rally.

The game still remained a defensive battle, though, with Miami failing to get into any offensive rhythm to take advantage of a solid defensive outing. This, in turn, allowed the home team to take a 10-7 lead on a 29-yard field goal. At that point midway through the second quarter, the Dolphins finally started to show some life: they marched 52 yards in 14 plays to answer the Broncos’ field goal with one of their own, a 41-yarder by Jason Sanders.

Suddenly, the game was turning into a field-goal based shootout. Denver drove right down the field again, after all, and retook the lead on another field goal as time expired in the first half.

The Broncos came close to adding to their lead, but Miami’s defense forced a turnover on downs to end the opening drive of the third quarter: a 4th-and-1 run at the Dolphins’ 14-yard line was stopped for no gain. The offense, however, failed to take advantage of the momentum swing and instead went three-and-out for the fifth time. A 9-play, 81-yard touchdown drive later, Miami was down 20-10.

While the Dolphins did look better on the next possession, two penalties and two sacks within a five-play span forced another punt. At that point halfway through the fourth quarter, Flores had seen enough: Tagovailoa was benched in favor of veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, who quickly led the offense on a scoring drive that ended with a 53-yard Sanders field goal.

Even though Denver drove right back down the field again on the next drive, Miami’s opportunistic defense made another big play when linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel forced a fumble at the goal line that was recovered by Eric Rowe to give the Dolphins life: with 5:13 remaining in the game, the team was 99 yards from a tying touchdown. It never materialized, however.

Fitzpatrick did drive the Broncos all the way into the Broncos’ red zone, but ended the game in his opponent’s favor when he threw an interception for a touchback. Denver ran out the clock, and Miami’s win streak officially found its end.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

3. New England Patriots (4-6)

Week 11: 27-20 loss to the Houston Texans, in Houston TX

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To watch highlights of the game, click here.

4. New York Jets (0-10)

Week 11: 34-28 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, in Inglewood CA

Coming out of their Week 10 bye, the Jets continued right where they left off: with another loss, their 10th in a row. Needless to say that Adam Gase’s team remains on course to earn the number one draft pick next year — especially with five straight games against teams currently in the playoff picture coming up before the season finale in New England.

As for the contest against the Chargers, it started with a big play: not only did the team’s defense force a punt to open the game, it also blocked the ensuing kick when Henry Anderson was able to get a hand on it. Four plays later — all of them runs — New York scored the first touchdown of the day on a 5-yard carry by rookie La’Mical Perine.

While the ensuing extra point sailed wide to the left, the Jets were still up 6-0 and continued to play opportunistic football: the defense registered another takeaway on the following drive with Marcus Maye forcing a fumble that was recovered by Ashtyn Davis.

However, it all went downhill from there. Joe Flacco, once again filling in as starting quarterback for the injured Sam Darnold, gave the football right back to L.A. on the very next play — and more: the veteran passer threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown, allowing the Chargers to take a 7-6 lead that grew to 14-6 early in the second quarter.

The Jets’ offense, meanwhile, continued to play lackluster football. It followed the pick-six with back-to-back three-and-outs, the second which giving way to the home team’s third touchdown drive of the afternoon. Down 21-6 at that point, the game already seemed to be out of reach for a New York offense that struggled to get anything going. Accordingly, the Chargers added another three points to their lead before intermission.

Coming out of the half, however, the Jets did show some signs of life and quickly scored their second touchdown: Flacco and wide receiver Breshad Perriman connected on a 49-yard score that brought New York within 11 points. Unfortunately, that deficit did not live long as the Chargers drove right back down the field again on the subsequent series to another touchdown and go up 31-13.

The Jets replied with a touchdown drive of their own — a 10-play, 75-yard march — that ended with veteran Frank Gore finding the end zone from one yard out. Another missed extra point later, New York entered the fourth period down 31-19. All that was needed was some sort of stop by the defense to give the team some hope, but coordinator Gregg Williams’ unit once more failed to deliver.

The Chargers answered the Jets’ touchdown with a 16-play drive that burned 8:40 off the clock and ended with another field goal. Flacco and company drove quickly down the field again to score on a 6-yard touchdown pass to Chris Herndon to make it a one-possession game again. With time running out, the defense then forced a three-and-out but the offense could not capitalize: a 4th-and-9 pass fell incomplete, giving L.A. possession again inside the two-minute warning.

The Chargers successfully ran down the clock — giving up a safety in the process — and thus sealed the Jets’ 10th defeat of the season.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.