AFC East once again belongs to Patriots after 8 weeks

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 25: Frank Gore #21 of the Miami Dolphins rushes the ball while being pressured by Jadeveon Clowney #90 of the Houston Texans in the third quarter at NRG Stadium on October 25, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 25: Frank Gore #21 of the Miami Dolphins rushes the ball while being pressured by Jadeveon Clowney #90 of the Houston Texans in the third quarter at NRG Stadium on October 25, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

The Patriots dominated on Monday night as expected, and with the rest of the division coming away with losses, they are now running away with the division.

Heading into the season it was widely assumed that the Patriots would come away with at least another division title in 2018, with their sights always set on the ultimate prize. But when they started the season off at 1-2, and the Dolphins came out hot at 3-0, Miami was in position for a commanding lead within the division if they could find a way to win in New England back in week 4.

That seems like a lifetime ago now, and while the Patriots look like they haven’t taken the foot off of the gas since their 38-7 victory that afternoon, the Dolphins have looked just as lackluster during that span. As it stands, the Patriots hold a two game lead in the division, and given the way the rest of the teams in the AFC East look, it may as well be an eight game lead. We’ll recap how it all played out for each team in week 8, but it wasn’t pretty for those outside of New England.

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins and Texans kicked things off for the week in their Thursday night matchup. Miami kept things tight for most of the game as the offense found success moving the football on an otherwise good Texans defense. On the Dolphins opening drive, Miami looked like they were threatening to score until Adam Gase made another terrible call on 4th-and-1 to roll out with Brock Osweiler in an attempted pass to Frank Gore. It went incomplete, and although pass interference could’ve definitely been called, a quarterback sneak was obviously the high percentage play that should’ve been called.

The Dolphins defense forced a three and out, however, on Houston’s first possession. It would be one of the few times Miami’s defense would be successful. Miami jumped out to an early lead after a Kenyan Drake 12-yard touchdown run. The Texans would take the lead with two quick scoring drives, but Miami trailed only 14-10 at halftime.

A little trickery called from Gase saw Danny Amendola throw a 28-yard touchdown pass in the second half to Drake to pull within 21-17. It looked like Miami was going to keep it close to the end, but that thought was sucked away when the Texans scored in just two plays on their next possession. The entire night, specifically the second half, Miami’s defense was out of sorts, and they would end up surrendering 42 points to a Houston offense that had struggled for the most part leading up to the game.

The Dolphins are heading in the wrong direction, and it will be interesting on what position they take leading up to Tuesday’s 4 PM trade deadline. Even at 4-4, and just one game back from the final playoff spot, many believe the season to be lost for the Dolphins, and it’s easy to see why. DeVante Parker was pushed into Thursday’s lineup because the Dolphins were dealing with so many injuries at wide receiver. Parker played very well, but it’s well known that the Dolphins are looking to move him, and he may have built his trade value enough for them to get a deal done.

It will be interesting to see how the Parker situation pans out, and if Miami decides to move any of their other current players. I do not anticipate the Dolphins bringing anyone in, but we’ll see. In the meantime, Miami will get ready for their second matchup of the year with the Jets this coming Sunday.

New York Jets

For those Jets, they dropped their second in a row, falling to 3-5 after their loss at the Bears. Behind their rookie QB Sam Darnold, the Jets continue to feel the growing pains with their franchise quarterback. This was an ugly one for New York, as Darnold finished the game completing just 14 of 29 passes for 153 yards, and a touchdown. The Jets did not get anything going in the run game, and they didn’t help themselves any with seven pre-snap penalties.

The Bears were without Khalil Mack so the Jets should’ve been able to find more success against the defense than they did. The good news for New York was that they didn’t turn the ball over, but it was a disappointing showing nonetheless.

Chicago kicked off their scoring with a 70-yard Tarik Cohen reception in the 1st quarter. They spent the rest of the afternoon pounding the run game, totaling 179 yards on the ground. Run defense has been an issue for the Jets so far this season, and one has to think that Adam Gase should try and exploit next week. With both teams playoff hopes beginning to fade, it’s a very important matchup for each.

New England Patriots

As I mentioned at the top of the post, the Patriots did as expected in handing the Bills their third straight loss. The way they did it, however, could be considered a surprise. The Patriots offense struggled much of the night, and they had to settle for four Stephen Gostkowski field goals through the first three quarters. New England did not get their first touchdown of the game until 9:58 remaining in the 4th quarter when James White scored from one yard out.

The game was sealed for the Patriots when Devin McCourty intercepted a pass thrown by Derek Anderson, and took it 84 yards to the house. The defensive score gave the Patriots the 25-6 victory. It wasn’t the best performance by New England, but obviously, still well enough to beat a poor team like Buffalo. The Patriots will have a much more intriguing matchup next week against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers at Gillette Stadium.

Buffalo Bills

It was a good effort by the Bills in their Monday night matchup with New England, but we all knew they were no match for the experienced Patriots. One positive to take away from the game was the play of their defense.

The fact that they were able to hold New England to field goals for most of the game, and held them to just one touchdown late in the game is a step in the right direction for them. If you’re the coaching staff or the fans, you really can’t ask for any better when your defense holds Tom Brady‘s offense to just 18 points.

If the defense can play the same way, they’ll give themselves a shot against Chicago next week, who have a hot and cold style offense. The problem for Buffalo is that their offense is dreadful, and now having to rely on Derek Anderson and more of Nathan Peterman is a recipe for disaster.