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AFC East Report: Week 1 reaffirms Bills’ status as the class of the division

Related: What the Patriots can learn from their loss to the Dolphins

Buffalo Bills v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The first week of the 2022 NFL regular season is in the books, which means that it is now also time for the first AFC East Report of the year — one that started in disappointing fashion for the New England Patriots: the team of head coach Bill Belichick dropped its season opener to the Miami Dolphins with a final score of 20-7.

As a result of the in-division win, Miami now sits atop the AFC East after won week. However, make no mistake: the Buffalo Bills showed that they are the class of the division by dismantling the reigning Super Bowl champions on national television. On the other end of the spectrum, meanwhile, continue to be the New York Jets; the team was thoroughly outplayed in Week 1 and has now started four straight seasons at 0-1.

With that all said, let’s take a look at each club’s opening week performance — both from afar and through the eyes of each SB Nation affiliate.

1. Miami Dolphins

Record: 1-0

Week 1: 20-7 win over the New England Patriots, in Miami Gardens FL

For the second straight year, the Dolphins have opened their regular season with a win over the Patriots. This one saw them take advantage of their division rivals’ miscues en route to a 20-7 win: Miami won the turnover battle 3-0, and was able to make the big plays when it mattered the most.

The game started with the team’s defense delivering a quick stop on a Jevon Holland interception, followed by a field goal drive. With the Patriots unable to get into an offensive rhythm again, Miami was able to extend its lead when safety Brandon Jones forced a strip sack on a corner blitz; the loose ball was recovered by Melvin Ingram for a touchdown to give the home team a 10-0 lead.

The Dolphins added seven more points before the half, when Jaylen Waddle was able to break through the New England defense to turn a 4th-and-7 pass play into a 42-yard touchdown. While the Patriots were able to add a TD of their own coming out of the half, it was not enough: Miami continued to convert critical third downs and keep its opponent at a distance throughout the rest of the game.

The Phinsider coverage:

2. Buffalo Bills

Record: 1-0

Week 1: 31-10 win over the Los Angeles Rams, in Inglewood CA

The Bills entered the season as one of the big Super Bowl favorites, and opening night in Los Angeles did nothing but confirm their status. Buffalo thoroughly dominated the reigning world champions, winning by three touchdowns in front of a national audience.

The team of head coach Sean McDermott scored a touchdown on its opening possession and never looked back, and by the early second quarter was up 10-0 despite already having turned the football over twice. The home eventually scored 10 unanswered points to tie the game heading into the half — in parts because of Bills QB Josh Allen throwing his second interception of the day.

In the second half, however, Allen and company showed what they are capable of. The MVP candidate led his troops to three straight touchdowns, while the defense kept the Rams off the board to finalize the score.

Buffalo did not play mistake-free football, with the offense turning the football over four times. However, an opportunistic defensive performance — the unit notched three interceptions itself — coupled with a second-half surge sealed the deal in the AFC East champions’ favor.

Buffalo Rumblings coverage:

3. New York Jets

Record: 0-1

Week 1: 24-9 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, in East Rutherford NJ

With starting quarterback Zach Wilson unavailable due to injury, the Jets turned to veteran backup and former Ravens QB Joe Flacco. Flacco was not the main reason for New York’s demise, but his performance was still a disappointing one and contributed to the offense scoring only nine points on the day.

Credit where credit is due, though, the team’s defense did play some solid football besides a few notable breakdowns. It kept the game close through the first two quarters, despite the offense and special teams units both not holding up their end of the bargain. As a result, the halftime score was only 10-3 in Baltimore’s favor.

However, the unit could only do so much and by the third quarter the Ravens had scored back-to-back touchdowns to go up by three scores. Flacco’s touchdown pass to tight end Tyler Conklin late in the fourth period did nothing to change the final outcome of the game.

Gang Green Nation coverage:

4. New England Patriots

Record: 0-1

Week 1: 20-7 loss to the Miami Dolphins, in Miami Gardens FL

Traveling early to Miami was a good idea to get the team acclimated to heat and humidity, but it ultimately did not help the Patriots come away with a victory. Too many mistakes were made, too much inconsistency displayed on both sides of the ball.

The Patriots started well, though, driving quickly from their own 25-yard line to the Miami 22. However, a deep pass from Mac Jones intended for DeVante Parker was tipped away and intercepted — causing a momentum shift New England failed to recover from. Before long the team was down 3-0, with the aforementioned strip-sack touchdown putting the team in a 10-0 hole in the second quarter.

Before the half, Miami added seven more points to its lead thanks to a 42-yard touchdown pass on 4th-and-7: Kyle Dugger took a bad angle as the last line of defense, allowing Jaylen Waddle to break free for the score. The Patriots showed some life early in the third period, with Ty Montgomery reaching the end zone for the team’s first TD of the year, but it was too little, too late.

Miami added another field goal, and later registered another takeaway when Jaelan Phillips recovered a Nelson Agholor fumble. It was a fitting end to a disappointing game.

Pats Pulpit coverage: