We are at the mid way point of the NFL season and this is where teams start to separate themselves and divisoion races become more clear of who is in the race and who isn’t. In theAFC East, there are four teams separated by 2 games, but when you look at the teams closer you know where which team is heading where.
In first place is the New Endgland Patriots, they are 5-3 and heading into the bye, and while the Patriots haven’t looked as dominate as they have in years past its still their division to win. The Patriots at times have looked like they were coming back to the rest of the teams in their divison, but they have responded when the game is on the line. When they played the Buffalo Bills last month in Buffalo, they trailed 21-7 in the 3rd quarter and they then went on a rampage and outscored the Bills 45 to 7 the rest of the way to win 52-28. Then a couple of weeks ago late in the 4th quarter, they trailed the New York Jets 26-23 and then had a drive late in the game to send the game to overtime and they ended up winning the game in overtime.
Those two games alone show the Patriots are still the class of the division. When teams don’t put away the Patriots when they have the chance, the Patriots make them pay in the end. The Patriots still have quarterback Tom Brady and a good team around him. They might not have looked as good in the first have of the season, but the Patriots have never been a team that plays its best in September and October. They play their best football in November and December as they gear for the stretch run and jockey for playoff positioning.
The Miami Dolphins have been one of the surprise teams in the league. They are 4-3 and led by a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback. They aren’t the most exciting team to watch. They win with a good defense and an offense that doesn’t turn the football over. When you do those two things you have a chance to win some games. The Dolphins looked bad in the preseason and didn’t look good in the season opener. This team looked like they could barely win 5 games at the most, but the team has settled down and bought into coach Joe Philbin and his program. They don’t have a lot of playmakers on offense, but if their defense keeps playing well and their offense doesn’t turn the football over they will be in a lot of games with a chance to win and that is all you can ask for. The Dolphins still have to play the Patriots twice so we will find out just how good they are, but this is a young football team andwe will see how they stack up against the mighty Patriots.
The Bills have been a major disappointment. They are 3-4 and at times have looked awful especially on defense. They spent a lot of money on defense this offseason to try to improve the team, but they have not lived up to expectations. They have given up 48, 52, 45, and 35 points in all of their losses and that won’t cut it. This team was picked by a lot of people to make a run at the Patriots or at the very least compete for a wild card spot and right now they aren’t ready for either. Their first two games after their bye week are road games against the Houston Texans and the Patriots so it looks like 3-6 after those games is likely unless the team gets better in a hurry or its going to be another long offseason for the Bills and their fans.
The Jets have been quite the circus act. They are 3-5 and are so inconsistent. They pounded the Bills on opening day and since then have played so inconsistent. They have had injuries, an identity crisis, and coach Rex Ryan looks like he is at a cross roads as Jets coach. This team went to two staright AFC Championship games in his first two seasons and after flaming out last year to miss the playoffs, you would think this team would have used it as motivation to play better. However the Jets are looking lost. Their running game is non exsistent. Their quarterback Mark Sanchez has been inconsistent and the fans want him benched for Tim Tebow, who they aquired in the offseason. The Jets aren’t using Tebow on offense so they obviously think this experiment has failed. The Jets look like they are going to have a long second half of the season.
Everybody in this division plays each other at least 1 more time, but by the way things are shapping up the Patriots are still the class of this division.