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AFC East Report: Dolphins remain one of the hottest teams in football, and other Week 16 takeaways

Related: NFL playoff picture: Patriots drop to sixth seed in the AFC after Week 16 loss against Bills

Miami Dolphins v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The 16th week of the NFL regular season is in the books, and it brought some changes to the AFC East. The New England Patriots no longer hold the top spot in the division, dropping to No. 2 after a home loss to the Buffalo Bills. The Miami Dolphins, meanwhile, continue to be one of the hottest teams in football, while the New York Jets’ rookie QB showed some promise.

With that said, let’s dive straight in. Welcome to the new edition of the AFC East Report.

1. Buffalo Bills (9-6)

Week 16: 33-21 win over the New England Patriots, in Foxborough, MA

Bills 33, Patriots 21: Rapid recap and notes

Takeaways: “Soft” Bills pound Patriots to retake AFC East lead

Circling the Wagons: Bills spoil Pats’ tea party with 33-21 win

Revisiting five Bills to watch at New England

Revisiting five Patriots to watch against Buffalo

Josh Allen makes history in win over New England

One-Stat Recap: Buffalo Bills take control of the AFC East with win over the New England Patriots

Game Balls: Bills’ best of Week 16

Snap count notes: Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

2. New England Patriots (9-6)

Week 16: 33-21 loss to the Buffalo Bills, in Foxborough, MA

Patriots vs. Bills: New England’s defense shredded in 33-21 loss to Buffalo

Instant analysis from Patriots’ 33-21 loss to Bills

Patriots vs. Bills stats: New England fails to make the key plays on both sides of the ball

Referee explains controversial decision to pick up flag after late hit against Mac Jones

Patriots offer simple analysis after their loss to the Bills: ‘We need to execute better’

Bills accomplish something no team has ever done against Bill Belichick

What losing to the Bills means for the Patriots’ playoff outlook

3 winners and 7 losers from the Patriots’ loss to the Bills

The Lane Breakdown: 10 takeaways from the Patriots’ loss to the Bills

Loss to Bills another example that the Patriots are currently not built to win shootouts

Devin McCourty on Patriots’ post-bye slump: ‘It’s too late in the season not to play your best football’

Patriots vs. Bills snap count report: New England keeps rotations tight in 33-21 loss

Patriots vs. Bills: Fan Notes from the Game

Patriots vs. Bills injury analysis: New England appears to have suffered only minor ailments in Week 16

Bill Belichick criticizes Patriots’ third-down execution, calls it ‘obviously the biggest problem’ against Bills

Mac Attack: What went wrong for Mac Jones against the Bills?

Patriots’ coverage issues against Bills went beyond Myles Bryant

Coping With Loss: Buffalo Bills Edition

Patriots vs. Bills rookie review: New England’s first-year players have a rough day

Comparing Mac Jones to the other first-round rookie quarterbacks after Week 16

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

3. Miami Dolphins (8-7)

Week 16: 20-3 win over the New Orleans Saints, in New Orleans, LA

After losing seven straight games earlier during the season, Miami continues to play some successful football. The 20-3 victory over the Saints on Monday Night Football was their seventh straight win — making the 2021 Dolphins the first team in league history to go through a seven-game losing streak and a seven-game winning streak.

The first big play of the day was made by the Dolphins defense. Cornerback Nik Needham intercepted Saints fourth-string starting quarterback Ian Book and returned the pick 28 yards for a touchdown to give his team an early 7-0 lead. Miami would add three more points in the first quarter thanks to a 10-0 Jason Sanders field goal, all while continuing to dominate the opposing offense.

The Saints did get on the board with a field goal of their own in the second period, going into the half down 10-3 (in part because Sanders missed a 59-yard field goal try as time expired). They then made a big play early in the third by intercepting Tua Tagovailoa. However, they could not capitalize on the momentum swings and eventually saw Tagovailoa connect with wideout Jaylen Waddle to put Miami up 17-3.

With Ian Book clearly outmatched in his first career start and the Dolphins successfully stopping the New Orleans offense time and again, the game was very much decided at that point. Sanders added another field goal from 34 yards out to finalize the score at 20-3, while Brandon Jones registered another interception.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

4. New York Jets (4-11)

Week 16: 26-21 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, in East Rutherford, NJ

The battle between this year’s first overall draft pick, Trevor Lawrence, and this year’s second overall draft pick, Zach Wilson, ended in the latter’s favor. The Jets were able to beat the visiting Jaguars with a final score of 26-21 to improve to 4-11 on the year.

Both quarterbacks played some solid football, but it was Wilson who made the first big play of the day. Down 3-0 and facing a 3rd-and-5 in his own territory, the Jets’ youngster scrambled 52 yards for a touchdown — the longest run of his career and quite possibly the most spectacular play of his season so far.

Lawrence and the Jaguars, however, were able to fight right back by driving 75 yards in 12 plays to retake the lead when a fumble by the quarterback was recovered in the end zone by offensive lineman Will Richardson. The team’s 9-6 lead did not last long: the very next play was ex-Patriots wide receiver Braxton Berrios returning a kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown.

The Jaguars came within a point on their next drive, making it a 13-12 game game due to a 45-yard field goal but the Jets were in position to pull ahead even farther. Facing a 4th-and-goal from the Jacksonville 2-yard line in the closing seconds of the second quarter, however, Wilson threw incomplete for a turnover on downs.

The third quarter started better for the home team, which scored a 42-yard Eddy Piñeiro field goal to go up 16-12. After the Jets failed to capitalize on a Ronald Blair fumble recovery, the Jaguars answered with yet another field goal. New York, however, replied by going on an impressive 11-play, 80-yard series — one that ended with Wilson finding eligible offensive lineman Connor McDermott for a 1-yard touchdown on another 4th-and-goal.

Down 23-15 midway through the fourth quarter, the Jaguars were in dire need of some offensive success. Lawrence and company delivered, driving 75 yards to come within a two-point try. However, the young QB failed to connect with Jacob Hollister — leaving the Jets up by two points. Another Piñeiro field goal increased that lead to five, giving Jaguars another chance to grab the lead late.

With 12 seconds left in the game and Jacksonville facing fourth down from the 1-yard line, it was do-or-die time for New York. The defense held, forcing an incomplete pass to earn a 26-21 win.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.