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AFC East Roundup: Week 1 stars and duds

Who showed up—who didn’t?

Week 1 of the 2022 NFL schedule is officially in the books for for the AFC East. The Buffalo Bills kicked the season off with a dominant second-half performance against the defending Super Bowl Champion Los Angeles Rams. Down in South Beach, the Miami Dolphins took care of the New England Patriots with ease while back up north the New York Jets were overwhelmed by the Baltimore Ravens. Within the division, some players came out of the gate like the superstars they are, while others simply dropped like a dud on the field. Let’s review some of the performances within the division.

The expectations for Bills quarterback Josh Allen were huge coming into the 2022 season. Enough so to the point where he’s become a favorite to win the NFL’s MVP award this season. After one week, Allen showed why people have a lot of faith in him. He was efficient in the 31-10 win against the Rams—passing for 297 yards with three touchdowns while also rushing for one. Allen took what the defense gave him, which is something he’s struggled with a bit in past seasons. However, if he liked a certain look the defense showed, he excelled while taking a shot down field. This was a big performance for Allen to kick off the season as he tries to lead the Bills to a Super Bowl.

Many considered the Dolphins’ trade with the Kansas City Chiefs for Tyreek Hill to be the league-wide prize of the offseason. Miami is certainly hoping for Hill to have the same kind of impact with them that he did while in Kansas City. After one game, it seems so far so good. Hill had eight receptions for 94 yards and showed that his ability to impact a game should continue with the Dolphins. He had things working on screen passes, intermediate routes, and even went up to catch a highly contest ball. Ever elusive, 58 of his 94 yards came after the catch. One of the best attributes a star like Tyreek Hill brings to any team is that other players on the roster immediately beome better. In this case, that’s Jaylen Waddle who had a touchdown on the day.

Then there were duds. The Patriots began thee season with a promising and efficient drive, but that was the high point for Bill Belichick and company on Sunday. It’s easy to point at quarterback Mac Jones and his 9.7 QBR rating, but I think it’s also important to point out the running game. New England prides themselves on being able to run the football, which allows Jones and the offense to face manageable third-down situations. Damien Harris had a fantastic 2021 and there were expectations that Rhamondre Stevenson could be just as good. The two running backs combined for 73 yards on 17 carries, which isn’t good enough when the offense relies on them so much.

It seems a bit unfair to single out anyone on New York Jets. From the outset, the Jets were handicapped due to Zach Wilson’s knee injury suffered during the preseason. With Wilson out at least the first month, his backup, Joe Flacco couldn’t get anything going against his former team, Most of his passing yards came when the game was already out of reach. On a positive note, the defense did play strong in holding the Ravens to only ten points in the first half. However, with an offense unable to put any points on the board, it was hard for the defense to keep up that level of play for the rest of the game.