By Dayna O’Gorman // @DaynaOG
When you think of the AFC East, you think about the New England Patriots. They have won the division title every year since 2003, with the exception of 2008. That’s a lot of years of dominance. But with the Reign of Brady coming to an end, and with the other three teams either revamping their teams, is the AFC East becoming more competitive? This season could be a preview of what’s to come in the future.
With that said, the Patriots still have a stronghold on the division, which is no surprise to anyone. Taking a look at week 7 and beyond, what can we expect from the AFC East?
The New York Jets showed signs of life last Sunday. They had started off 0-4 before playing the Dallas Cowboys in week 6 and people were wondering if they would win a game at all this year. They had lost starting quarterback Sam Darnold to mono for an undisclosed amount of time and were really struggling. But in week 6, Darnold returned and so did the spark the Jets seemed to be missing and they beat the Cowboys 24-22.
Week 7 brings the Jets to Boston to play the long-time division champs, the Patriots. While most don’t believe the Jets can win this game, playing in Foxboro against one of the best defenses in the NFL…and Tom Brady, it should be a good glimpse into what we can expect from the Jets in the future. Was week 6 a fluke? Was it because Dallas has struggled? Or was it because this team is starting to find their footing?
Offensive Players of the Week (Week 6):
— NFL (@NFL) October 16, 2019
Speaking of the New England Patriots, they are one of just two undefeated teams left in the league. With the storied history of this franchise, no one is surprised. The only real criticism they have received is the fact they haven’t really played anyone that is true competition yet. They have…and I know Patriots fans are tired of hearing this…a really easy schedule. The only pressure they have faced came from division rivals, the Buffalo Bills, who held QB Tom Brady to zero TD throws. However, that changes some in the second half of the season.
QB Tom Brady hasn’t been as sharp as he normally is, but that isn’t saying much. He’s still considered the best QB in the league. And anywhere he is lacking is being made up for by the Patriots fantastic defense. In week 7, as I mentioned above, they face the Jets. While the true competition for the Patriots may not come for another few weeks, we will see if the Jets can make them stumble at all in week 7.
If we are going to discuss an easy schedule for the Patriots, I’d be remiss not to mention the same thing about the 4-1 Buffalo Bills. Their schedule hasn’t been truly difficult either. However, the way the team has played in these games has shown improvement from last season. The Bills aren’t just winning, they are winning by a strong margin. Their only loss was a 6 point loss to the Patriots, but they held Brady to zero touchdowns. No one expected that.
In week 7, they play the 0-5 Dolphins, and they are coming off their bye week. This should equal a win for the Bills, making them 5-1, but in week 8 they face the Philadelphia Eagles, which will be a true test for the team. The rest of the season gets harder, facing the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburg Steelers, and Dallas Cowboys in later weeks. If they can have strong games, (and a few wins) in those games, we will know the Bills are real competition for the Patriots and the division.
Lastly, we come to the Miami Dolphins. Listen, we know what is happening in Miami. They have/are gutting the team, stacking up draft picks and money, and will remake the entire team over the next few years. However, the fight they showed in last week’s game against the Washington Redskins proved they aren’t here to just “tank”. They have pride in their team but also understand the process the team is going through.
This week they face the Buffalo Bills, and let’s be honest, they probably won’t win. They may not win at all this season. The Dolphins franchise would then own the only undefeated season… and a zero win season. But again, its all about retooling a team that has been stuck in neutral for years. To make changes that could turn everything around. I respect that.
The AFC East has been known as the Patriots division for years. However, the tide could be turning. As a fan of football, it will be fun to watch.