Through three weeks, the Buffalo Bills look to be the vastly superior team everyone expected out of Orchard Park before the season began. Meanwhile, despite being just one game back in the division, the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins feel like teams that pose little threat to push Buffalo for the division crown. What happened in Week 3 to further that divide?
Every week through the 2021 season, I’ll be recapping the action from around the NFL’s most intriguing division. 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 3.
AFC East Standings
- Buffalo Bills (2-1) overall; (1-0) division
- Miami Dolphins (1-2) overall; (1-1) division
- New England Patriots (1-2) overall; (1-1) division*
- New York Jets (0-3) overall; (0-1) division
*Miami wins a tiebreaker over New England based on head-to-head record.
AFC East Scores
Buffalo 43 - Washington 21
New Orleans 28 - New England 13
Las Vegas 31 - Miami 28
Denver 26 - New York 0
AFC East Headlines
Dolphins Bring Raiders to the Brink Amidst Messy Matchup
The Dolphins had absolutely no business taking the Raiders to overtime on Sunday, but the NFL is weird, and here we are looking at a 31-28 final score. Miami’s offense was discombobulated from the start, only managing to put 14 first quarter points on the board because of an Elandon Roberts pick-6 and a fantastic defensive stand against the Raiders in Las Vegas territory.
The rest of the game’s offensive game plan was confusing as all heck. TWELVE Jaylen Waddle receptions for under 60 yards? Really? Miami’s coaching staff needs to do a better job of getting its playmakers in a position to succeed. The ground game was working, and Miami’s o-line has been far better at run blocking than pass blocking, so why did Myles Gaskin, the team’s most effective runner, only get 13 carries? Don’t even get me started on that screen pass into the team’s own endzone. These are questions that need answers, and soon.
The New York Jets Continue to Falter Post-Gase, and That’s Ok
It’s not time to push the panic button in New York. In fact, if the team loses nearly every game moving forward and Zach Wilson can’t find Justin Herbert-esque magic in his rookie season, it still won’t be time to panic. Post-Adam Gase, the Jets are entering a new era, and it takes time for new era’s to unfold in the NFL. Look at the Dolphins in their first post-Gase season. If Robert Saleh can follow a Brian Flores-type path, and despite a group of blowout losses early in his career, show some fight later in the season, the Jets will have hope for the future, especially if Wilson shows some flashes along the way.
Wilson is working with a patchwork offensive line that has already lost its best player, and his weapons aren’t anywhere near the upper echelon of the league. Does he look overmatched right now? Sure, but most rookies do. Dolphins fans know all too well how frustrating it is to have NFL prognosticators over-react to subpar rookie quarterback play. Give Wilson some time. Let him take his lumps now. We’re only three games into the Saleh-Wilson era in New York. There’s still plenty of football ahead.
The AFC East Changing of the Guard is Real
There were some who thought Buffalo’s one-year domination of the division would be a blip in the Bill Belichick storybook, and that, after spending a record amount of money in free agency and having a new young quarterback to groom, the Patriots would be able to fight for the divisional crown once more. Think again. The Patriots look lost, having only beaten the lowly Jets thus far, and the Bills are leaps and bounds ahead.
Buffalo routed the Washington Football Team and made what many thought would be a top-5 defense look like my middle school flag football team. Meanwhile, New England looked completely out-coached and out-played by a New Orleans Saints team that is still figuring out its own identity on offense. This is Buffalo’s division now. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
Follow Justin Hier on Twitter @HierJustin.