With the Buffalo Bills losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, thus ends the season for the AFC East as a whole. It’s yet another campaign where the division won’t be represented in the Super Bowl — the last time of course coming when Tom Brady was with the New England Patriots. With the book on the 2023 NFL season now closed for all but four NFL teams, let’s take a look back at each of the teams in the AFC East.
We all understand that the meaning of insanity is repeatedly doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results. Some might say that’s similar to what the Bills have put the fan base through since Sean McDermott took over as head coach. Sure, the first two years of winning the division were nice so it made playoff failure hurt a little less... because we were just thankful to be there. Then we realized that the window for this football team was the present, and the hunger for more was unbearable. Instead, it was more of the same the past two seasons with more division titles.
When the games matter most in the Divisional Round of the playoffs at home though, the team continued to come up short. Last year it was against the Cincinnati Bengals and now this year it was against the Chiefs. Josh Allen led the league in total touchdowns but even that continues to come up short of what’s needed, as an injury-plagued defense offered little resistance against Patrick Mahomes and company. Buffalo faces another disappointing offseason where fans are just hoping that something meaningful changes.
Things were rolling for the Dolphins — the league’s best offense for the majority of the season. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was clicking and putting up MVP-caliber numbers while receiver Tyreek Hill was looking like the offensive player of the year and possibly becoming the first receiver to have 2,000 yards in a season. When the team dropped their Week 17 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens all they needed was to defeat the Bills at home in Week 18 to secure the division and the two seed in the conference.
Instead the loss to Buffalo really deflated Miami, which couldn’t muster any offense in the cold against the Chiefs — ending their season during Super Wild Card Weekend. The Dolphins now need to ask themselves how much money they’re willing to give Tagovailoa to lead their football team in the future, while also addressing some big-time players heading to free agency such as defensive tackle Christian Wilkins.
New York Jets
We all know the expectations going into the season for the Jets with Aaron Rodgers being under center. We also know how much things can change in the blink of an eye, as evidenced by Rodgers tearing his Achilles four plays into his tenure with New York. Despite losing Rodgers, the Jets found themselves at 4-3. However, the offense seemed to disappear as the team fell apart, losing five games in a row before alternating a win and a loss for the last five weeks of the season.
Now, Rodgers is another year older and coming back from a serious injury. To make matters worse it now seems that the team will move on from former first-round pick Zach Wilson. This will be a big year for the Jets as they need to show something before the rookie contracts of wide receiver Garrett Wilson and cornerback Sauce Gardner are up.
New England Patriots
It was a rough season for the Patriots and for the first time in a long time they’re looking toward a new chapter for the franchise. On defense, the team continued to be one of the best in the league, but on the other side of the football the offense never took off with either Mac Jones or Bailey Zappe at quarterback. The team and head coach Bill Belichick agreed to part ways with Jerrod Mayo taking over. New England holds the third-overall pick in April’s NFL Draft, and that seems to point to the idea of a new quarterback for the Patriots. Things were never the same once Tom Brady left town. But now, with a new coach and a new signal caller, the Patriots could be this year’s version of the Houston Texans.