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Week 3 AFC East Preview: Dolphins looking to bounce back sans Tua, Jets searching for first win

Buffalo Bills v Miami Dolphins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

In this week’s edition of our AFC East Preview, we’ve got our first piece of the season with no intra-divisional games, meaning we finally have four separate matchups to break down. The Miami Dolphins and New York Jets are coming off deflating losses, while the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots are riding high following substantial victories. Let’s dive right into the action.

AFC East Standings

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

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

Washington Football Team at Buffalo Bills - September 26th at 1:00pm ET

Buffalo is back. After getting off to a slow start in a Week 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Bills reminded the league why most pundits have talked about the team as one of the league’s Super Bowl contenders. Week 3 will provide a new challenge, though. Taylor Heinickie is for real. Yeah, I said it. The former Old Dominion quarterback has done nothing but impress since filling in as a starter and giving Tom Brady a run for his money in last season’s Wild Card round.

Then there’s Washington’s defense. The nation’s capital has arguably the best defensive line in football and can pressure opposing signal callers like nobody’s business. Josh Allen is in for a tough go of it this week. Luckily, he has enough explosive firepower to compete with your neighborhood fireworks shop. I’m expecting this to be one of the week’s best games. Don’t be surprised if it comes down to the wire.

Score prediction: Buffalo 31 - Washington 27

New Orleans Saints at New England Patriots - September 26th at 1:00pm ET

Jameis Winston is gonna Jameis Winston. After tearing the Green Bay Packers apart in Week 1, Winston regressed back to his turnover-prone self against the division rival Carolina Panthers in Week 2. Which Winston will show up in Foxborough? Who knows, but we can be sure that Bill Belichick is going to do his utmost to coax more turnovers from the enigmatic veteran quarterback.

As for New England’s offense, Mac Jones and co. were able to skate by with dinks, dunks, and conservative play in Week 2, but if the Saints offense gets hot, Jones may need to uncork some deeper shots in order to keep New England in the game. With Jameis’ unpredictability and Jones still being a relative unknown, this is the hardest game of the week, AFC East or otherwise, for me to predict. I’ll take New England, but only by a hair.

Score prediction: New England 24 - New Orleans 23

New York Jets at Denver Broncos - September 26th at 4:05pm ET

Zach Wilson’s four-interception performance against New England last week surely rattled even his most ardent supporters in New York, but let’s be fair: Wilson is just two games into his career and has plenty of time to turn things around. His offensive line has performed well to date, and he has enough weapons at his disposal to continue developing under newly minted head coach Robert Saleh. Unfortunately, Denver presents an equally daunting challenge for the rookie gunslinger. The Broncos defense is as formidable as they come, meaning it may be a bit longer before we see Wilson take over a game the way he did at BYU.

Denver’s offense has been an equally pleasant surprise for Broncos fans. Teddy Bridgewater is playing the best ball of his career, and the team’s plethora of weapons in wideout Courtland Sutton, tight end Noah Fant, and running backs Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams are thriving under Bridgewater’s direction. Denver should continue to cruise en route to a 3-0 record.

Score prediction: Denver 30 - New York 17

Miami Dolphins at Las Vegas Raiders - September 26th at 4:05pm ET

The waters are rough in South Florida right now. Tua Tagovailoa is slated to miss one week at minimum with fractured ribs, the offensive line was horrendous on Sunday, and head coach Brian Flores is under pressure to deliver a playoff team this year after Miami just barely missed out on January football last season. Things don’t get any easier for the team against a white-hot Raiders club. Darren Waller has been unstoppable, Derek Carr, like his undefeated counterpart in Denver, is playing the best football of his career, and the Raiders pass rush has looked strong (bad news for a struggling Miami o-line).

With Jacoby Brissett under center, Miami might need to rely on more miracles to best Las Vegas. Otherwise, Flores will be staring down the barrel of 1-2 with two more tough opponents in Indianapolis and Tampa Bay right around the corner. For the sake of Dolphins fans, I’ll try writing some good luck into existence with this prediction.

Score prediction: Miami 23 - Las Vegas 20