With Thanksgiving only a couple weeks away, now is the time during the NFL season when teams start to gain momentum in search of a playoff berth or simply fade into the back of the pack. As for the AFC East, a win for any of the three teams not at the top would put them right into the thick of the playoff race. A loss would place some into a phrase that Bills Mafia is all too familiar with, “In the Hunt.” Let’s recap how the division did in Week 9.
The Miami Dolphins kicked off this past Sunday’s slate of games with an early morning showdown against the Kansas City Chiefs in Germany. A win would have put them at the top of the AFC conference rankings, giving them a solid shot at the number-one overall seed. Instead, the offense started off slow and the Dolphins quickly found themselves in a 21-0 hole by the end of the first half. To their credit, Miami did bounce back and made it a one-possession game late in the fourth quarter. However, with the ball and a chance to score near the end of regulation, a botched snapped killed any chance the team had at making a comeback. The Dolphins are still 6-3 and in first place in the AFC East, but their plan of earning home-field advantage for the playoffs took a serious hit.
In the afternoon window the New England Patriots squared off against the Washington Commanders. The Patriots are still an enigma, and in Week 9 quarterback Mac Jones didn’t play like he did against the Buffalo Bills. Jones threw for only 220 yards with a touchdown and an interception. On defense, New England allowed Sam Howell to have himself a productive day with over 300 passing yards and a touchdown. The Patriots dropped this game 20-17 after a miss by wide receiver JuJu Smith Schuster resulted in an interception off the deflection. The Patriots are 2-7 right now and a lot of the fan base is already looking toward the draft next April.
The Bills had a chance to make a statement against the Cincinnati Bengals in front of a national audience for Sunday Night Football. A win would have put them in first place in the AFC East. What fans got was a ton of hope on the first drive of the game when the Bills utilized an up-tempo look that has been successful all season long. After that, it was more of the same with the offense going back to a slower tempo, which of course resulted in no points. A different game with the same story of the offense playing unrestricted when the score was out of reach, which means another loss for Buffalo and quarterback Joe Burrow playing a near-perfect game. If the season ended today, the Bills would find themselves sitting at home and out of the playoffs.
Wrapping up Week 9 were the New York Jets in a lackluster Monday Night Football matchup. Pregame, quarterback Aaron Rodgers was seen looking comfortable launching some passes down the field. If the team wants to be in position to make a run if/when Rodgers come back, then they need to get some wins on the board. What the team found instead was a 27-6 at-home smackdown against the Los Angeles Chargers, dropping the Jets to 4-4 on the season. New York decided to start off the game with a punt that resulted in a return for a touchdown, a fumble, another fumble, and four more punts with a field goal to end the half. That’s not going to get it done in today’s NFL.