When the season is over, one team will sit atop the AFC East and many believe that the Miami Dolphins are the team to beat. That still holds true but if we dig deeper into the season, it is the New York Jets that could be the ones challenging the Dolphins later in the year.
The Jets are playing fantastic defense right now and that side of the ball may just be the best in the AFC. The only thing dragging the Jets down is Zach Wilson's inconsistencies on the field.
Yes, the Dolphins are going to get healthy again and yes they will get most of their players back after the bye week but make no mistake, Miami needs to keep winning because they will spend a lot of time looking over their shoulders and seeing New York.
Why do I say this? No, I'm not on drugs and I actually do know what I'm talking about...most of the time. Let's look at this from the metric that matters more than anything. The win/loss potential for the remaining 10 weeks of the season.
Miami Dolphins - 6 home games vs. 4 road games
Of Miami's remaining game, the Dolphins will play the Jets twice, the Patriots, the Ravens, the Cowboys, Bills, and Chiefs. Those are the toughest games of their remaining schedule. The division games are obviously the most important.
Outside of those games, the Dolphins play the Raiders, Titans, and Commanders. All three of those teams are struggling and rumors circulate they could be big sellers at the trade deadline.
Miami needs to win all three of those games, at minimum split with the Jets, sweep the Patriots, and steal one or two from the remaining schedule.
Buffalo Bills - 5 home games vs. 5 road
The Bills were supposed to run away with the division according to preseason predictions but losses to the Jets and Patriots have many wondering if the Bills can string together multiple wins. They nearly lost to the Giants on the last play of that win.
The Bills have a tough schedule ahead with the Eagles, Chiefs, and Dolphins on the road. They have the Cowboys and Bengals at home. Their remaining teams include a rematch with the Jets at home, the Patriots and Broncos with a late season trip to L.A. to face the Chargers.
If the Bills continue to play inconsistent football, they could struggle against the better teams and as we have seen with their losses, they can lose to bad teams just as well.
New York Jets - 5 road games vs. 5 home games
The Jets are interesting because the defense is playing very good football right now. They knocked off the Eagles and have beaten the Bills.
New York has two games against the Dolphins and will repeat against the other AFC East teams. They will play the Chargers at home, the Giants on the road which is like playing at home, and have games against the Raiders, Falcons, Texans, and Commanders.
The toughest games remaining are against the Dolphins, Bills, and...Browns.
Looking at the Jets schedule and current record of 3-3, New York should be in a position to beat the Giants, Chargers, Raiders, Falcons, Texans, Commanders, and Patriots in the final week. That puts the Jets at 10 wins on the season. If they beat the Bills, Miami, and Cleveland, add more to their total.
This is without a starting caliber QB but a QB who is finding a way to win despite his inconsistent play.
The fact that the Jets have one of the easier schedules remaining in the East, beating the tough teams could put the Jets in a surprise position to challenge for the East title. Something that wasn't thought to be possible four games into the 2023 season.
Will the Jets win it? A lot of football needs to be played between now and then but interestingly enough, the Dolphins' biggest challenger for the AFC East might just be a team that sits two games behind them.
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