Monday, January 25, 2021

AFC East watch week 12: Patriots find a way to win

We’re another week closer to the playoffs and it’s time for AFC East watch week 12. With three of the teams winning, and the Jets, of course losing to our Dolphins, nothing much changed in terms of the division this week.

But we’re starting to get a true reflection of where each of the teams are at this stage of the season. So let’s crack on with the AFC East watch week 12 edition.

AFC East Watch: Patriots find a way to win

One of the more divisive issues among fans this season has been the performance of the Patriots. It’s certainly taken them a while to adjust to the loss of Tom Brady to the Bucs, and a large turnover in defensive starters.

While Cam Newton continues to struggle with the Patriots offence, posting just 9/18-84-0-2 against the Cardinals, the defence has started to gel together. Limiting the Cardinals high octane offence to 160 passing yards, and Kyler Murray to just 31 on the ground, the Pats clipped Arizona’s wings and made the game a brutal slug fest.

AFC East Watch Week 12: Kyler Murray had one of his worst games of 2020
AFC East Watch Week 12: Kyler Murray had one of his worst games of 2020

The Cardinals aren’t overly suited to this type of game and when Zane Gonzalez pushed his potential game winning field goal wide, it gave the Patriots one last chance to try and win the game. In true Bill Belichick fashion New England did just that going 33-yards to setup Nick Folk’s 50-yard winner.

Never write of Bill Belichick, and while this offense will scare no-one Dolphins fans should be wary of the defensive looks Bill Belichick will throw at them in week 15

AFC East Watch: Dolphins dominate Jets

It was another somewhat underwhelming Dolphins offensive display, but Ryan Fitzpatrick did more than enough to down the Jets. Standing in for the injured Tua Tagovailoa, Fitzpatrick 24/39-257-2-0 performance was never in jeopardy of losing the game.

The Dolphins again failed to establish a running game which has certainly hindered both the passing game and offence in general. But DeVante Parker was once again in beast mode registering 119 yards on 8 catches as he got familiar with Fitzpatrick again.

AFC East Watch: Xavien Howard eats for the seventh time in 2020
AFC East Watch: Xavien Howard eats for the seventh time in 2020

But the real story for the Dolphins was on defence again as both Nik Needham and Xavien Howard took interceptions from the returning Sam Darnold. The return of Christian Wilkins helped the defence hold the Jets under 87 rushing yards, at just 3.8 per carry.

The Dolphins move on to face the Bengals in a must win game to maintain that playoff push.

AFC East Watch: Jets keep getting worse

Adam Gase continues to look an absolute train wreck in New York. Long gone are the memories of his first year in Miami and it now seems just a matter of time until he’s sacked (probably after he secures the Jets the number one overall pick in the 2021 draft).

AFC East Watch: Nik Needham catches a Sam Darnold pass
Nov 29, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Miami Dolphins defensive back Nik Needham (40) runs the ball on an interception against New York Jets tight end Chris Herndon (89) during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

AFC East Watch: Josh Allen is coming back down to earth

The good news from another Buffalo win, this time a 27-17 win over the LA Chargers, is that Josh Allen is starting to look a bit more like his usual self. After lighting up defences at will in the first four weeks Allen has looked much more human of late.

In fact having completed at least 70% of his passes in three of the first four weeks, he has repeated that feat just twice in the last seven games. He has also thrown 7 interceptions in those most recents games, compared to just 1 in the first four games of the season.

That’s not to say the Bills don’t look good because they do. But they don’t look like a team that will overly scare Brian Flores dynamic ball-hawking defence. Remember the Dolphins only lost by three to the Bills in week 2, and that was without Byron Jones, and before this defence had come together as a unit.

Week 17 could be very interesting.

We’ll round out the AFC East Watch with a look at the standings.

AFC EASTWLTPCTPFPADIFFHOMEROADDIVSTRK
Buffalo830.727299282175-1-03-2-04-0-0W1
Miami740.636284205793-2-04-2-02-2-0W1
New England560.455229255-264-2-01-4-02-1-0W1
N.Y. Jets– e0110.000152322-1700-6-00-5-00-5-0L11

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