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Buffalo Bills hold advantage in AFC East division title race

Buffalo found some good luck in Week 13, and control their own destiny in the race to win the AFC East

NFL: DEC 01 Bills at Patriots Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Week 13 was an important one for the AFC East, with the AFC playoff picture getting more and more intense.

The Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots started the action on Thursday Night Football, while the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins had weekend matchups against the Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers, respectively. For Buffalo and Miami, they were vying for the top spot in the division before their huge showdown in Week 15. Meanwhile, the Patriots and Jets were trying to stay in the thick of the Wild Card chase, while still eyeing a potential steal of the division. However, only one of these teams took advantage of their opportunity last weekend.

The Bills were the only team in the division that emerged victorious in Week 13, with a convincing 24-10 victory against the Patriots. This marked Buffalo’s first division victory of the year, and increased their recent winning streak to three games. Thursday’s game showed rookie running back James Cook’s potential within the offense. Cook rushed for 64 yards while catching six passes for 41 yards. If defenses are going to make quarterback Josh Allen takes what’s in front of him, then a lot will fall on Cook (and Devin Singletary) to make them pay for it.

For New England, it was a game that left fans feeling uneasy. Once again, the team was plagued by its own offensive struggles. After scoring a promising touchdown on their second drive of the game, the offense was unable to find the end zone the rest of the game. With a strong showing against the Vikings the week prior, passing for almost 400 yards, fans thought quarterback Mac Jones might have found a new gear. Jones didn’t deliver against the Bills, only passing for 195 yards — most of which came when the game was already out of hand.

Quarterback Mike White set out to show New York high-level performance against an elite ball club after dismantling the Chicago Bears’ defense a week earlier. It wasn’t in the cards, though, as the offense struggled in the red zone against the Vikings. The Jets had six trips near the goal line, but only came away with one touchdown — on a quarterback sneak that was nearly stopped. As for the defense, they held on as long as they could by only allowing seven points in the second half. A huge matchup looms for the Jets in Buffalo this week — that will undoubtedly have a huge impact on postseason aspirations for Gang Green.

For the main event of the AFC East, it was the Dolphins taking on the 49ers in a potential Super Bowl matchup. Unfortunately for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, he played his most inconsistent game of the year in the loss. The precise accuracy he’s displayed all season seemed to fail him when he needed it the most; he threw two interceptions in the second half that killed a serious attempt at a comeback. With Miami trailing by six late in the game, tight end Mike Gesicki was unable to corral a catch on 4th & 2, resulting in a turnover on downs.

AFC East Standings

1 Buffalo Bills 11-3 3-2 8-2 +135 W5 5-0
2 Miami Dolphins 8-6 2-2 6-4 +1 L3 2-3
3 New England Patriots 7-7 2-2 5-4 +31 L1 2-3
4 New York Jets 7-7 2-3 5-5 +18 L3 1-4

With the results of Week 13 games, there was a lot of movement in the standings. Buffalo now sits on top of the division at 9-3, and — with losses by the Dolphins and the Kansas City Chiefs — moves into the No. 1 seed for the conference. This means that Buffalo now controls its own destiny with five games to go. Miami drops to 8-4, with that huge game against the Bills coming up in two weeks, but they must not overlook the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday Night Football in Week 14. New York dropped to 7-5, while the Patriots are reeling at 6-6; the Jets are in Buffalo on Sunday, while the Patriots make their third straight prime-time appearance against the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football.