The New York Jets (3-3) were able to sit at home on their bye week and watch the chaos unfold in the AFC East during Week 7. The New England Patriots were able to knock off the Buffalo Bills, marching down the field to score a touchdown with under 20 seconds to go in regulation. The win gave the Patriots (2-5) their second win of the season, and saddled the Bills (4-3) with their second loss in the division and third overall. The Miami Dolphins (5-2) had a chance to gain solid control of the division with a win against the Philadelphia Eagles, but they couldn’t muster enough offense and lost their second game of the season.
At this moment, the division seems to be wide open. As such, what record is likely to win the division, and who do we think will get the job done? Perhaps, 11-5 or even 10-5? Let’s look at what the AFC East will be up against later this season.
The Bills are in a tough position, sitting at 4-3. The offense has started slow the last three weeks, while the defense has been forced to keep the game within reach until the end. We saw on Sunday how the offense woke up in the second half to take the lead but the defense just had nothing left in the tank to finish the job inside of two minutes. Buffalo’s schedule is arguably harder than what the Dolphins are set to face. The Bills have a stretch coming up against the Jets, Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Chargers, Patriots, and Miami to finish the season. Their odds currently sit at +195, but if they don’t turn things around it’s hard to see them winning any of those seven games down the stretch.
Looking at the Dolphins’ remaining schedule, they take on the Patriots next week. In their first matchup, Miami came away with a 24-17 victory but New England’s defense was able to hold Miami’s offense in check during the second half. The Patriots still have games against the Chiefs, the Jets (twice), Cowboys, and Baltimore Ravens. Then in the season finale, the Dolphins travels to Orchard Park, NY for a rematch with the Bills. As of this publishing, DraftKings Sportsbook has the team as -180 to win the division, making them the favorites.
Be careful if you choose to count out the Jets, even though their odds are at +1,000. Yes, the Jets are two games back at 3-3, but they have a favorable schedule to make noise if they play to their abilities. They have already beaten the Bills once and still have to face the Dolphins twice. Their next three games are against the New York Giants, the Chargers, and the Las Vegas Raiders. With New York’s defense, all three of those games seem winnable and can get them to 6-3 going down the stretch before playing the Bills and Dolphins in back to back weeks. Then of course there’s the wildcard of quarterback Aaron Rodgers perhaps making a miraculous recovery from his torn Achilles and being available in January.
Finally there’s the interesting situation the Patriots find themselves in. Last week, fans were talking about tanking the rest of the season in hopes of drafting one of the top quarterback prospects in the NFL Draft next April. Now, after their upset win against Buffalo, there’s some newfound hope even though New England is 2-5. The Patriots’ odds to win the division are +7,500 — by far the longest odds in the division — but that doesn’t mean they should take their eyes off the Wild Card picture. If New England can sneak out a win against the Dolphins next week, they have two more potential victories against the Washington Commanders and Indianapolis Colts — which would put them back at 5-5 heading down the stretch.