It may be a reoccurring theme, but things tend to fall apart fast if you’re a team in the AFC East not named the Patriots. And that’s exactly what’s played out over the past month.
Four weeks ago the division looked full of teams that could threaten for a playoff spot. The Buffalo Bills were 4-2 coming off a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Miami Dolphins were also 4-2, having just downed the New York Jets, who, despite their 3-4 record, were exceeding preseason expectations.
The Patriots were 5-2, and the entire division was within two games of each other.
Then, as has been the case practically every year since the Patriots kick-started their dynasty under coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, everything has come crashing down around the Pats’ rivals.
The Pats have gone 3-0 since then — and are riding a six-game win streak overall — to put them at 8-2 and tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the best record in the AFC. Meanwhile, incompetence and disarray litter the rest of the division.
The three other teams over the past four weeks are a combined 2-9, with one of those wins a Thursday night Jets win over the Bills.
Now the Pats are the only team in the division with a winning record, with Buffalo (5-5), Miami (4-6) and the Jets (4-6) reeling.
No one’s fall has been as precipitous as Buffalo’s. Over the last three weeks, the Bills have allowed a whopping 135 points, an average of 45 per game.
Even more confounding is first-year head coach Sean McDermott’s handling of the Bills’ quarterback situation. For some reason, he benched starter Tyrod Taylor for rookie Nathan Peterman before Sunday’s game at the Los Angeles Chargers. The results were atrocious, as Peterman threw five interceptions in the first half alone. To compound the mismanagement of the most important position on the field, McDermott has still not given the job back to Taylor, who, while not shining recently, is still a better option than Peterman.
The Dolphins have lost four straight and don’t have any more clarity to their quarterback situation. Ryan Tannehill tore his ACL before the regular season and replacement Jay Cutler is now in the concussion protocol, which makes him uncertain for Sunday’s game in Foxboro. The team also traded away top running back Jay Ajayi to the Eagles, further weakening its offensive punch.
The 4-6 Jets had a bye this weekend. Given how things have gone for these three teams, maybe that was the smart…