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Week 9 AFC East Recap: Bills embarrassed, Dolphins finally manage victory

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

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 9.

AFC East Standings

  1. Buffalo Bills (5-3) overall; (2-0) division
  2. New England Patriots (5-4) overall; (2-1) division
  3. New York Jets (2-6) overall; (0-2) division
  4. Miami Dolphins (2-7) overall; (1-2) division

AFC East Scores

Indianapolis Colts 45 - New York Jets 30

Jacksonville Jaguars 9 - Buffalo Bills 6

New England Patriots 24 - Carolina Panthers 6

Miami Dolphins 17 - Houston Texans 9

Week 9 AFC East Headlines

The Bills May Not Be the Class of the AFC Like We Once Thought

The Bills are a good team. Good teams lose winnable games sometimes. It happens. The roster is immensely talented and deep and the coaching staff is top notch. But the performance the Sean McDermott’s squad put out there against the Jacksonville Jaguars will fester in the corner of Bills fans’ minds for a while. Josh Allen looked flustered and made too many mistakes, the offensive line was not protecting up the caliber it showed to be capable of in prior weeks, and the team was unable to run the ball against a defense that is mediocre at best.

Buffalo still has a half-game lead for the AFC East title, but another disappointing performance against either the New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts (two teams with a combined 5-11 record) over the next two weeks would be cause to pause and re-evaluate whether this team is really Super Bowl-ready. For now, last week’s matchup can be chalked up to the time-honored “any given Sunday” adage and considered an aberration, but hopefully for Bills fans, that’s all it is.

After Seven Straight Losses, Miami Finally Snags a Win

And an ugly one at that. Miami committed five turnovers, but still managed to eke out a victory given Houston’s horrid play and a revitalized performance from the Dolphins defense. Miami’s young talent came to play on both sides of the ball, with Jaylen Waddle, Jevon Holland, Brandon Jones, Jaelan Phillips, and Mike Gesicki all proving to be key contributors and possible foundational pieces for Miami’s roster of the future.

Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves; the Dolphins beat one of the worst teams in the NFL in less-than-convincing fashion, but in a season that’s been mostly void of hope, it can be helpful to still find the bright spots when they appear. Unfortunately, an impending Thursday night showdown with the Baltimore Ravens may quickly snuff out any goodwill that Sunday’s victory provided.

The New England Patriots “Rebuild” is Progressing Quicker than Some Expected

This Patriots team can win in a multitude ways, and for a squad deploying a rookie quarterback, that’s extremely important. This week, the team’s defense and running game dominated a Carolina Panthers team that seems utterly lost at the season’s midpoint. New England’s ball carriers rushed for over 140 yards, and Bill Belichick’s defense held Sam Darnold and the Panthers to just six points, allowing Mac Jones to sit comfortably in the pocket and manage the game from a distance. Jones only needed to throw for 12 completions on 18 attempts for 139 yards to guide the Patriots to an easy victory.

Belichick’s free agency spending spree and ability to game plan his way to victory using different contributors each week is paying dividends on a roster void of superstars, but full of capable players at every level. Time will tell, but it’s possible New England may have just needed one year off between the Brady dynasty and the team’s next trip to the postseason.

Follow Justin Hier on Twitter.