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Week 5 AFC East Preview: Dolphins, Bills take on reigning conference champs

Indianapolis Colts v Miami Dolphins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

In this week’s edition of our AFC East preview, all three non-Buffalo Bills teams are entering the weekend with their seasons on life support. The Miami Dolphins have, by far, the toughest task of those three, as head coach Brian Flores’ squad is heading to Tampa Bay to take on the defending Super Bowl champions. Meanwhile, the New England Patriots will be matching up with the listless Houston Texans, and the New York Jets head to London to battle an underperforming Atlanta Falcons team missing two of its top wideouts. Let’s dive right into the preview.

AFC East Standings

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

*Miami wins a tiebreaker over New England based on head-to-head record.

**New England wins a tiebreaker over New York based on head-to-head record.

New York Jets at Atlanta Falcons (London) - October 10th at 9:30am ET

Last Sunday, head coach Robert Saleh and his team showed the NFL last season that this is not Adam Gase’s New York Jets. New York knocked off a playoff contender in the Tennessee Titans whilst Zach Wilson displayed plenty of the potential draft pundits saw in him back in April. This week an understaffed Falcons offense may have trouble keeping up with a Gang Green unit that seems to be starting to gel. The Zach Wilson to Corey Davis connection is humming, rookie running back Michael Carter is beginning to take the reigns of the team’s ground attack, and Wilson himself is looking more comfortable than the erratic signal caller we saw back in Week 1.

I won’t get ahead of myself and call the Jets one of the league’s better teams based on one week of solid play, but it’s not so easy to call every Jets foe the clear favorite anymore. On the other sideline, Matt Ryan has had little to no help from a defense that’s been clearly outmatched for most of the season and a supporting cast that isn’t yet living up to expectations. Ryan is one of the better passers of his generation, and it’s unfortunate that his final NFL years are being wasted on a subpar team, but as of now, it doesn’t appear as though things are getting any easier for him with both Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage expected to miss this week’s contest.

Score prediction: New York 24 - Atlanta 20

New England Patriots at Houston Texans - October 10th at 1:00pm ET

Bill Belichick is not used to being 1-4. Thankfully, he likely won’t have to get comfortable with that position anytime soon. His team took the defending Super Bowl champions down to the wire last week and should have no trouble wiping the floor with a Texans team that were just shut out 40-0 by the Bills.

Davis Mills clearly isn’t ready to be an NFL starter, he has a ramshackle supporting cast at his disposal, and his defense is doing very little to keep him in the game. Expect the Patriots to jump out to an early lead and run the ball for much of the second half as the team tries to wind down the clock on what should be one of the least interesting games in the NFL this week.

Score prediction: New England 28 - Houston 10

Miami Dolphins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers - October 10th at 1:00pm ET

Ugh. This one should be messy. Tampa Bay has a top-three defensive line in the league. Miami has a bottom-three offensive line in the league. You do the math. Jacoby Brissett is likely to be under heavy duress all game long. The one silver lining that provides a glimmer of hope very, very far off in the distance for Miami? Tampa Bay’s secondary is banged up, badly. Cornerback Carlton Davis was placed on injured reserve on Thursday, and the health of cornerback Jamel Dean and star safety Antoine Winfield Jr. is a question mark heading into this contest.

For Miami to even have a chance, the offensive philosophy will need to change drastically. Miami is not going to out-dink-and-dunk Tom Brady. It’s just not happening. Brissett will need to hit DeVante Parker, Jaylen Waddle, and Mike Gesicki early and often.

One can dream.

Score prediction: Tampa Bay 34 - Miami 20

Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs - October 10th at 8:20pm ET

The game of the week. Josh Allen vs Patrick Mahomes. A showdown of two quarterbacks that will be fighting to be kings of the conference for the decade to come. It’s nearly impossible to overhype this contest.

The last time these two teams met, which came in the 2021 AFC Conference Championship game, Mahomes came out on top. But things are different now. Both offenses are still in peak form, but Buffalo’s defense has turned the corner since last season. The pass rush is improved, the secondary is still laden with talent, and the linebackers are making plays all over the field. This time, it’ll be the canon-armed Josh Allen that comes out with a victory.

Score prediction: Buffalo 38 - Kansas City 34

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