Oct 25, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) speaks to New York Jets outside linebacker Quinton Coples (98) during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
In Week 8 of the NFL, we saw the NY Jets fall and the New England Patriots rise over the Miami Dolphins, while the Buffalo Bills enjoyed their bye week.
The AFC East through 8 weeks of football hasn’t quite lived up to the unrealistic expectations before the season, but they’re still pretty good. Of course by pretty good I mean the second best winning percentage by division in the NFL (17-10) slightly edged by the NFC South (20-10).
Who knows if my bold prediction in the off-season, (the entire AFC East will finish above .500) will come true, it’s still early. The interesting questions on the horizon is where do each of these respective teams rank around the league? Have they fallen or risen in popular power rankings?
Let’s delve in.
Next: Who can stop the Patriots?
Oct 29, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; Miami Dolphins corner back Jamar Taylor (22) tackles New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount (29) during the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports
1st place in the AFC East: The New England Patriots (7-0)
Yes, 8 weeks into the 2015 NFL season the Patriots reign supreme, they’re still undefeated and another AFC East foe was vanquished on the big stage. The Patriots have looked downright dominant this season, creating murmurs this could be the next undefeated Patriots squad. It seems that the analysts and pundits from across the league agree with their rankings this week:
— Golf Tweets (@Golf_Tweets) November 2, 2015
Also in the NFL.com Power Rankings they’re ranked #1, it’s actually nearly impossible to find a Power Ranking that doesn’t have the Patriots #1. They have been at the top of the heap for several weeks and despite a good effort from the Jets two weeks ago, no one is stopping this team. Though watch out for that Denver-New England game in a couple weeks could be an AFC Championship preview, who knows.
Next: There is still hope for the Jets
November 1, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; New York Jets quarterback
(7) reacts after being sacked by Oakland Raiders defensive end
(52, not pictured) during the fourth quarter at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
2nd place in the AFC East: The New York Jets (4-3)
This is basically how every Jets fan feels right now, not only did they lose a key AFC game over this past weekend, but they also lost some key players on offense. Ryan Fitzpatrick went down with an injury and although he’s going to start this upcoming week, is still hurting. Geno Smith came in and fought valiantly, despite naysayers throwing the loss on Geno, what’s new? The Jets’ vaunted defense and poor running game let them down in this one. Though across the boards surprisingly the Jets didn’t bottom out in the Power Rankings like I assumed. NFL.com’s Elliot Harrison had this to say about the Jets and their fall in the rankings:
New York Jets (4-3) fall 4 spots and now sit at the 11th position in the league: It’s Geno Smith‘s fault the Jets lost in Oakland. Wasn’t he wearing No. 31 in white on that Michael Crabtree touchdown? Why wasn’t his coverage on Andre Holmes tighter? Everyone in America watching a short Jets-Raiders highlight package probably said “Uh huh” when learning Smith was the quarterback for this defeat. The inconvenient truth is that No. 7 didn’t fare too poorly. His lone turnover did not result in any Raiders points, and while he didn’t set the football world on fire, he did make plays to keep the offense viable. Especially when you consider that Chris Ivory and Zac Stacy rushed 18 times for 28 yards.
Sarcasm aside, Smith played well, or as well as he could considering the circumstances and being down a bunch of points and getting no reps over the last several months. The future of this team rides on the health of the quarterbacks: Can Fitzpatrick play through the injury? Can Smith heal up by Sunday or will the Jets have to put their faith into their rookie quarterback Bryce Petty from Baylor (NY Jets: It might be Bryce Petty time)? For now, looks like Fitzpatrick will once again resume starting duties and hopefully, he won’t miss a beat.
Next: These Dolphins look done
Oct 29, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; Miami Dolphins interim head coach Dan Campbell watches from the sideline as they take on the New England Patriots in the second half at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Miami Dolphins 36-7. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
In a tie for 3rd place in the AFC East: The Miami Dolphins (3-4)
With the Dolphins sitting in last place (essentially) and owning an 0-3 mark in the division, their division title hopes are all but over. Did you expect anything else? Sure, new coach Dan Campbell brought a sense of a different perspective into a stagnant locker room that led to 2 straight victories over sub-par opponents, but what did that amount to? The Dolphins having a false sense of confidence heading into the Patriots game they thought that they might have a chance in? Well, reality is a dish best served cold and ironically enough that is usually how Tom Brady serves his meals. The Patriots dominated all phases of the game on Thursday night and the Dolphins never had a chance. The Cinderella story is over, their only chance is a wildcard and even that looks slim at this point. The Dolphins plummeted in rankings across the league after their loss:
On the surface they only dropped one spot in the NFL.com polls, but other rankings across the league fed into that mini 2 game winning streak the Dolphins had. The Cameron Wake injury is devastating to this team that finally found a spark on the defensive side of the ball. I’ve lost all faith in the Dolphins, I think they could still be a tough out but the consistency won’t be there every week.
Next: Buffalo gets a bye week to regroup
Oct 25, 2015; London, United Kingdom; Buffalo Bills free safety Corey Graham (20) celebrates his touchdown during the second half of the game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Buffalo Bills at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports
A tie for 3rd in the AFC East: The Buffalo Bills (3-4)
The Bills had an off week, hopefully time to get back some of their big-time players back from injury including their quarterback Tyrod Taylor. This Bills team across the web is pretty middle of the pack and sitting at 3-4 as that’s exactly where they should be. It’s going to be tough sledding the rest of the season, especially with a few delectable AFC East match-ups on the horizon, here’s what Elliot Harrison had to say about the Bills week off:
The Buffalo Bills coming off their bye didn’t move in the Power Rankings, staying at the 16th position:
It was an off week for those worrisome Bills. Clearly, this football team is different with T-Mobile — who missed the last two games — running that offense than it is behind the four-banger that is EJ Manuel (like a ’94 Eagle Talon … not that I would know). If offensive coordinator Greg Roman wants the Buffalo attack to fire on all cylinders, he could start by using LeSean McCoy — who has not logged a 20-carry game yet — in key spots. Just a suggestion.
I mean Harrison hit the nail on the head, Rex Ryan came into Buffalo with the same ole’ ground-n-pound approach, but so far it’s been all talk. For the Bills to turn around their season they need to pound their running backs, especially ‘Shady’ McCoy who as Harrison noted, hasn’t logged a 20-carry game yet, not a recipe for success.
They’ve got a big match-up with the Jets on Thursday night football in which Rex will be ‘returning’ home for the first time as an opponent, that will go a long way in defining the Bills season. But first the Bills have an affair with the Dolphins before going on a 3-game AFC East division streak: at home vs the Dolphins, on the road against the Jets, and on the road against the Patriots.