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AFC East Roundup: Divisional x-factors

Who can make a difference late in the season?

Another week of NFL football is in the books, so it’s time to take a quick look at the standings in the AFC East. The Buffalo Bills remain in first place after defeating the winless New York Jets 18-10, improving their record to 5-2 on the season. The Miami Dolphins had a bye week but are in second place with a 3-3 record because the New England Patriots lost to the San Francisco 49ers, bringing the Pats’ record to 2-4. With the season headed towards the mid-point, we look at potential x-factors for the Bills and their AFC East rivals in this week’s Roundup.


Buffalo Bills: Kicker Tyler Bass

The reason the Bills won on Sunday was due in large part to the performance of rookie kicker Tyler Bass. Bass accounted for all 18 points as he tied a franchise high with six field goals made on the afternoon. It wasn’t all perfect as Bass missed two field goals during the game. On the season, Bass has made 70 percent of his kicks with a long of 53 yards. He appears to be gaining confidence with each passing week. With winter looming in Buffalo, it will be important for Bass to keep trending upwards so they continue to find success when kicking in inclement weather. However, holder Corey Bojorquez will also be responsible for his success as Corey has been known to hold the laces in instead of out, causing some kicks to go off target.

New York Jets: Wide Receiver Denzel Mims

The second-round pick in this year’s draft made his debut on Sunday against the Bills and looked good in the first half. Mims had four catches for 42 yards but failed to record a catch in the second half. The rookie did look sharp and showed excellent route running with speed. Listed at 6’3”, he has all the tools to be one of the top receivers in the league once he gets more experience under his belt. If the Jets want to get a win on the season they should be throwing the ball Mims’s way as he has shown the talent necessary to make some plays for an offense lacking in explosiveness.

Miami Dolphins: Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa

This one seems obvious for the Dolphins but it bears mentioning that Tua will be the Dolphins’ x-factor this season. Miami head coach Brian Flores decided to move on from Ryan Fitzpatrick who had six touchdowns in his last two games in favor of the first-round rookie. Tua has all of the tools to be a top player in the league, but this will be his first true in-game action aside from a drive at the end of the game against the Jets where the Dolphins were just running out the clock. If Tua makes an impact right away, do not sleep on Miami to make a playoff run as the season comes to a close. It will be no easy task as he makes his debut against Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles Rams who will be looking to give the rookie a day to remember for all of the wrong reasons.

New England Patriots: Bill Belichick

This is uncharted territory for the Patriots, sitting at 2-4 on the season with their division crown chances on the rocks after being a certainty for the honor most of the past decade. Sunday, marked their biggest home loss in the Belichick era and the first time they have lost three in a row since 2002. It will be up to Belichick to see if he can right the ship, even if it means making a quarterback change after the struggles Cam Newton has shown. The second half of the season will also say a lot about Belichick as the murmurs are slowly starting that he only had success for the past decade because Tom Brady was his quarterback.