The AFC East is undefeated in 2015 as all four teams – the Patriots, Jets, Dolphins and Bills – all won in Week 1. It’s the first time that has happened since division realignment in 2002.
It should not come as a surprise as the non-Pats teams in the division all made major acquisitions in the offseason. Darrelle Revis is in New York. Ndamukong Suh is in Miami, and LeSean McCoy is in Buffalo. Two of the three teams have new head coaches (Rex Ryan in Buffalo and Todd Bowles in New York) and the other has a legit starting quarterback (Ryan Tannehill) who is entering his prime.
So for the first time in the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era, the Patriots will likely not have a single cupcake game on their division slate.
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The Jets are the team most likely to go into a nosedive. Beating the Browns at home is not exactly reason for celebration, but so far so good. Ryan Fitzpatrick looked competent at quarterback in New York’s opener, Brandon Marshall looked rejuvenated and Revis is the leader of a defense that can do some legit damage.
The Bills, meanwhile, were the big Week 1 winners as their defense held Andrew Luck’s Colts to just 14 points. Their offense won’t wow anyone, but Tyrod Taylor was a tidy 14-of-19 passing and ran for 41 yards on nine carries. Percy Harvin had a strong game at receiver for the Bills, catching five balls for 79 yards and a touchdown. In addition to what should be a top-five defense in the league, the Bills showed some life on offense against Indy and that could be a scary recipe moving forward. The Bills host the Pats this Sunday (1 p.m., CBS).
Like the Bills, the Dolphins have attempted to construct a Brady-bashing defense. That defense looked like it was capable of giving No. 12 fits on Sunday against the Redskins as it picked off Kirk Cousins twice and held Washington to just 10 points.
For the first time in a long time, the Patriots could very well be playing meaningful regular season games around Christmas time. The Pats are at the Jets on Dec. 27 and at the Dolphins on Jan. 3 in Week 17. As for the immediate future, after facing the Bills this Sunday, New England won’t see a divisional foe again until Oct. 25 when its hosts the Jets. The Pats will play Miami at Gillette four days later on a Thursday night and will face Ryan’s Bills for the first time on a Monday nighter just prior to Thanksgiving.
Since Bill Belichick took over as Patriots head coach in 2000, the Dolphins are on their seventh head coach, the Bills are on their seventh as well, and the Jets are on No. 4. In that span, the Jets have made the playoffs six times, the Dolphins have made the playoffs just three times and the Bills are still dealing with that Music City Miracle curse as they’re without a playoff berth since 1999.