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AFC East Report: The best two teams in the division are on top after Week 1

Related: Instant analysis from Patriots’ 21-11 win over Dolphins

New York Jets v Buffalo Bills Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The first week of NFL action is in the books, which means that it is now also time for the first AFC East Report of this year’s regular season — and to look back at what was a strange weekend due to the absence of fans, but an eventful one nevertheless. With that being said, let’s dive right in.

t-1. New England Patriots (1-0)

Week 1: 21-11 win against the Miami Dolphins, in Foxborough MA

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To watch highlights of the game, click here.

t-1. Buffalo Bills (1-0)

Week 1: 27-17 win against the New York Jets, in Orchard Park NY

Behind one of the best defenses in football and an exciting although at times erratic young quarterback, the Bills developed into a serious contender during the 2019 season. It appears as if this year could be more of the same for the team, at least when judged by its opening week game against the Jets — a 27-17 victory that was never really as close as the final score made it look like.

The Bills started the game on defense, and quickly showed that the unit is still a force to be reckoned with. While the Jets’ offense will likely again be among the worst in the NFL this year, the Buffalo D did its job by forcing a quick three-and-out. The ensuing possession, however, showed that the good and the bad can be pretty close together when it comes to Sean McDermott’s team: Josh Allen methodically led his offense down the field, but eventually ended the drive when he lost a fumble in New York territory.

With the defense again holding New York to a three-and-out, though, Buffalo’s offense was quickly back on the field again. And this time, Allen took care of the ball — all the way into the end zone on a 2-yard scoring run.

The defense continued to stifle New York’s attack, meanwhile, which allowed Buffalo to extend its lead to 14-0 before the first quarter was even over: Allen and company marched 82 yards in just six plays before the quarterback found Zack Moss for another touchdown. The Jets did show some signs of life on the following drive — they made a first down — but Buffalo was quickly back on offense again to start Quarter Two.

What followed was an eight-minute drive that extended the home team’s lead to 21-0 on an Allen pass to Josh Brown from 17 yards out. At this point in the game, it was already pretty much out of reach for New York’s anemic offense — even more so after Matt Milano registered an interception on the next drive. However, another lost fumble by Josh Allen on the next drive gave the Jets some life again and allowed them to drive 75 yards for a field goal as time expired on the first half.

The third quarter started with an exchange of punts before Bills rookie Tyler Bass missed a 38-yard field goal attempt wide to the right. The miss set up the Jets’ second scoring drive — and the worst play given up by Buffalo’s defense all day as it allowed a 69-yard catch-and-run. The home team failed to properly answer and instead saw another Bass field goal, this time from 34 yards, sail wide right. New York could not take advantage this time, however, with Buffalo’s defense coming up big to get momentum back.

On the very next drive after Bass’ second miss, Jordan Poyer forced a fumble that was recovered by Jerry Hughes and set Allen and company up at the New York 38-yard line. While the team failed to add a touchdown, Bass was on point this time and made it a 24-10 game on a 22-yard field goal. He added a 19-yarder one series later to put the game out of reach with 3:15 left in the fourth quarter. The Jets did score another touchdown, but Mikah Hyde recovering the onside kick that followed sealed the deal.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

t-3. New York Jets (0-1)

Week 1: 27-17 loss against the Buffalo Bills, in Orchard Park NY

The Jets ended their 2019 season in encouraging fashion by winning six out of their final eight games. Going 1-7 over the first eight, however, cost them any chance at making the playoffs in their first season under Adam Gase. The second is also not off to a great start: New York may have lost by only 10 points against the Bills on opening day, but the game was never as close as the final score of 27-17 would indicate.

This was mostly due to the fact that the Jets’ offense around third-year quarterback Sam Darnold failed to get going early on. The unit went three-and-out on three straight series and by the time it touched the football to start the fourth was already down 14-0 — and if not for a Marcus Maye fumble that was recovered by Bradley McDougald, the score could have been even more lopsided in Buffalo’s favor.

It became just that early in the second quarter, though. While Darnold and company finally were able to pick up a first down on their fourth drive, they quickly had to punt the football back to the Bills and watch them go on another long drive against a defense that spent almost 18 of the game’s first 23 minutes on the field. To make matters worse, Darnold ended the next drive by throwing an interception on just its third play.

Luckily for the Jets, the defense still had some energy left to force and recover another fumble — Jordan Willis knocked it loose and recovered it — to set up the team’s first scoring drive of the day: New York marched 75 yards in 10 plays with Sam Ficken’s 31-yard field goal as time expired on the first half making it a 21-3 game.

The shift in momentum was a slow one, but it continued into the early second half. After both teams traded punts, the Bills missed a field goal before the Jets’ first touchdown of the season: Darnold connected o a short pass with Jamison Crowder, and the 5-foot-9 wideout broke through to get into the open and down the field for a 69-yard touchdown. With Buffalo then missing another field goal, the door was open for New York get back into the game. That is not what happened, though.

Early in the fourth quarter, with the team down 11 points but driving, tight end Chris Herndon lost a fumble. Buffalo then went on a 10-play drive to extend its lead by a field goal, putting more pressure on an offense that was not up for it: the unit went three-and-out again, setting the stage for another Bills scoring drive. While the Jets did find the end zone once more after that — Josh Adams broke the plane from two yards out — it was too little too late.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

t-3. Miami Dolphins (0-1)

Week 1: 21-11 loss against the New England Patriots, in Foxborough MA

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To watch highlights of the game, click here.