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Week 5 AFC East Recap: Bills atop the conference, Jets come up short in London

Miami Dolphins v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The parity within the AFC East is becoming more apparent with each passing week. The Buffalo Bills are the cream of the crop in the conference, and possibly the league as a whole. The New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, and New York Jets, meanwhile, continue to look like bottom feeders, either getting blown out by the league’s top teams or looking mighty vulnerable against fellow weak teams.

Every week through the 2021 season, I’ll be recapping the action from around the AFC East. A companion article will be released later each week to preview the upcoming Sunday’s action for the Dolphins, Patriots, Bills, and Jets. Without further ado, let’s break down everything we saw from the AFC East in Week 5.

AFC East Standings

  1. Buffalo Bills (4-1) overall; (1-0) division
  2. New England Patriots (2-3) overall; (1-1) division
  3. Miami Dolphins (1-4) overall; (1-1) division
  4. New York Jets (1-4) overall; (0-1) division*

*Miami wins a tiebreaker over New York based on division record.

AFC East Scores

Buffalo Bills 38 - 20 Kansas City Chiefs

New England Patriots 25 - 22 Houston Texans

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 45 - 17 Miami Dolphins

Atlanta Falcons 27 - 20 New York Jets

AFC East Headlines

Buffalo is Not Just King of the Division, but of the Conference

Sure, you can argue the Los Angeles Chargers deserve consideration for this spot, and you’d have a fair case, but the way Buffalo just dismantled the reigning AFC Champions makes head coach Sean McDermott’s squad the current frontrunner. Under the bright lights, Josh Allen made big play after big play, Buffalo’s defense looks like a top-5 outfit, and the litany of playmakers on offense makes the team’s aerial attack as dangerous as any in the league. If you don’t have Buffalo making a run for the Lombardi in your all-to-early playoff bracket, you’re kidding yourself.

Dolphins and Jets on Life Support Heading Into Second Quarter of the Season

The Dolphins and Jets entered this season with very different expectations, but both teams find themselves at 1-4 after dispiriting losses and extremely limited success in all phases of the game. Miami just presumably wrapped up its last game before starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (ribs) comes back from injured reserve, and the team’s goal for the rest of the season, in addition to keeping nearly dashed playoff hopes alive, is evaluating whether Tua can be the team’s franchise quarterback of the future. An additional, but equally important goal? Determining whether Brian Flores and Chris Grier are the men who should continue to be in charge of keeping this ship heading in the right direction. Many fans and punts are intensely questioning that notion, and rightfully so.

As for the Jets, head coach Robert Saleh’s unit is still in rebuilding mode. It makes sense that the wins aren’t piling up yet, but what’s at least mildly discouraging is how erratic second-overall pick Zach Wilson looks. Yes, rookie quarterbacks take time to marinate, and we live in an age of football where fans and owners somewhat unfairly want to see production now from their top picks, but against a subpar Atlanta Falcons defense, you’d like to see more promise from your presumed franchise future. I’ve preached patience with young quarterbacks here in this column, and I’ll continue to do so with Wilson. That said, by the season’s end, I hope for Jets fans’ sake that Wilson is showing more consistency in his decision making and accuracy.

Davis Mills Out-Performs Mac Jones

Who saw this one coming? Certainly not me. Yes, the Patriots won, so I get to keep the W in my pick predictions, but I’ll be the first one to admit I saw this being a multi-score blowout in favor of New England. That did not happen, as Houston took the Patriots to the brink of defeat.

Rookie third-round quarterback Davis Mills looked sublime, passing for 312 yards on a 72 percent completion rate with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Mac Jones, meanwhile, continued his dinking and dunking demeanor, throwing for 23 completions on 30 attempts for 231 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Jones looked solid, as he has for most of the season, but Mills had just about the best game any rookie quarterback ever has against a Bill Belichick coached defense, and the rookie deserves kudos despite the tough loss.

Follow Justin Hier on Twitter.