How deep and competitive is the AFC East this season? The New England Patriots have won four of their last five to climb back above .500, and they still sit in last place in the division they ruthlessly dominated for two decades.
All four AFC East teams have either five or six wins as we hit the midway point of the 2022 NFL season, with just 1 1/2 games separating the first-place Buffalo Bills from the cellar-dwelling Patriots:
1. Buffalo Bills (6-2)
2. New York Jets (6-3)
3. Miami Dolphins (6-3)
4. New England Patriots (5-4)
No other division — not even the newly formidable NFC East — has four five-win members. And though the Bills, division winners in 2020 and 2021, still look like this year’s favorites, they’ve now lost to both the Dolphins and Jets this season. The latter defeat came Sunday, with New York — fresh off an ugly 22-17 loss to New England — upsetting Josh Allen and company 20-17 at MetLife Stadium.
That result prevented the Patriots from moving into the AFC playoff picture. Had they paired their 26-3 rout of the Indianapolis Colts with a Jets loss, they would have grabbed possession of a wild-card spot entering their Week 10 bye. Instead, they sit a half-game back of the conference’s final postseason berth.
The Jets also will be off next weekend before visiting Gillette Stadium for a Week 11 rematch.
Here’s an updated look at the AFC standings. The teams in bold would qualify for the playoffs if the season ended Sunday.
1. Buffalo Bills (6-2; AFC East leader)
2. Kansas City Chiefs (6-2; AFC West leader)
3. Baltimore Ravens (5-3; AFC North leader)*
4. Tennessee Titans (5-3; AFC South leader)
5. New York Jets (6-3; first wild card)
6. Miami Dolphins (6-3; second wild card)
7. Los Angeles Chargers (5-3; third wild card)
8. New England Patriots (5-4)
9. Cincinnati Bengals (5-4)
10. Indianapolis Colts (3-5-1)
11. Cleveland Browns (3-5)
12. Denver Broncos (3-5)
13. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6)
14. Las Vegas Raiders (2-6)
15. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-6)
16. Houston Texans (1-6-1)
* plays Monday night