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AFC playoff picture, Week 4: Buffalo Bills top the AFC East

It’s early, but it’s still worth looking at.

New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

On opening night, the New England Patriots lost to the Kansas City Chiefs. That weekend, the Buffalo Bills had a chance to gain an early leg up in the division. They took that advantage, beating the New York Jets, and haven’t looked back. Through a quarter of the season, they lead the AFC East by a game.

Buffalo has taken advantage of opponents’ mistakes to build their 3-1 record. They have a 2-0 record in the AFC and a 1-0 record in the AFC East, the two biggest tiebreakers they’ll need. Their only loss came at the hands of the NFC’s Carolina Panthers.

The New England Patriots have been very un-Patriot-like in 2017. They sit at 2-2 after a huge opening night loss and a Week 4 loss to the Panthers, both at home. In week 3, they needed a furious late rally to hold off the Houston Texans, also at home. They appear to be vulnerable.

The surprising New York Jets are actually ahead of the Patriots in the standings for now, thank to their victory over the Miami Dolphins and a superior record in the division. The Jets have also beaten the Jaguars and are 2-1 when they aren’t playing Buffalo. Could they be good? Probably not.

The Dolphins are 1-2 and have all sorts of problems. They have one touchdown in the last two weeks and it came at the end of a huge blowout loss in Week 3. Their last meaningful points were in Week 2 and there is talk Jay Cutler could be benched for Matt Moore.

The rest of the AFC is wide open. The Kansas City Chiefs play Monday night and are the lone undefeated team. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos are the only other teams at 3-1, and Buffalo has a win over Denver on their resume. Then a host of 2-2 teams crowd the middle. It’s setting up to be a wild finish in the AFC.

AFC Standings

1. Kansas City Chiefs (3-0)*
2t. Buffalo Bills (3-1, 2-0 AFC)
2t. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1, 2-0 AFC)
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2, head-to-head win over HOU)
5. Denver Broncos (3-1, 2-1 AFC)
6. Oakland Raiders (2-2, 2-1 AFC)
7t. New York Jets (2-2, 2-2 AFC)
7t. Houston Texans (2-2, head-to-head loss to JAX, 2-2 AFC)
7t. Baltimore Ravens (2-2, 2-2 AFC)
10. New England Patriots (2-2, 1-1 AFC)
11. Tennessee Titans (2-2, 1-2 AFC)
12. Miami Dolphins (1-2)
13. Indianapolis Colts (1-3, 1-0 AFC)
14. Cincinnati Bengals (1-3, 1-2 AFC)
15. Los Angeles Chargers (0-4, 0-3 AFC)
16. Cleveland Browns (0-4, 0-4 AFC)