Best NFL Division? The AFC Beast


November 7, 2022

As we move past the season’s midpoint and look at the standings around the NFL, no division stands out more than the AFC East, where all four teams have a winning record. Just like we all predicted.

It’s just the fifth time all four teams in a division had a winning record through nine weeks since 2002.

The biggest surprise is the New York Jets (6-3), who pulled off the largest upset of Week 9 over the Buffalo Bills (6-2), 20-17. New York found themselves trailing 14-3 late in the second quarter, a week after they gave up 19 straight points to blow a 10-3 lead to the New England Patriots.

The same old Jets were about to lose a second-straight game to a divisional opponent at home.

Second-year quarterback Zach Wilson completed six-of-seven passes on a 75-yard TD drive to pull New York within 14-10 going into the locker room, and the Jets defense dominated the second half, holding the NFL’s No. 1 offense (416.4 YPG) to three second-half points.

The Jets were one of five teams to overcome a double-digit deficit on Sunday, and they all put the game-winning score on the board in the final two minutes.

New York’s game-winning drive spanned 86 yards on 13 plays, including an impressive ten runs as they wore down Buffalo’s top-ranked scoring defense (14.8 PPG). However, there was still 1:49 remaining in the game when Greg Zuerlein’s 28-yard field goal went through the uprights.

Too much time for Josh Allen and Co. Not on this day.

The defense forced a four-and-out spearheaded by a strip sack for a loss of nine yards and valuable time, the fifth Jets sack of Allen to go along with two interceptions.

The Jets are the first team in the NFL to go over their season win total (5.5) in 2022.

While Robert Saleh’s team does it with defense, his former counterpart with the San Francisco 49ers, where he was the defensive coordinator, Mike McDaniel, is winning with offense in his first year as headman of the Miami Dolphins (6-3).

The Phins have the most dangerous duo at receiver in the NFL in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Hill led the way with 143 yards (TD) in Miami’s 35-32 win at the Chicago Bears to give him 1,104 receiving yards, the most through nine games in the Super Bowl era.

With 85 yards (TD) against Chicago, Waddle is up to 812 receiving yards, and they’re the fifth pair of teammates with 800-plus receiving yards each through nine weeks in the Super Bowl era. 

Their 1,916 combined yards are the second-most by teammates at this point in the season in NFL history and the most since 1961.

For the AFC East to emerge out of Week 9 with all four teams boasting winning records, the New England Patriots (5-4) needed to handle business against the Indianapolis Colts. They did so 26-3 behind their defense and special teams.

Edge rushers Matthew Judon and Josh Uche had three sacks each, the first pair of teammates with three-plus sacks apiece since 2020.

Defensive back Jonathan Jones is the third player since 2000 with an interception returned for a touchdown and a blocked punt in the same game. His blocked punt set the Pats up from two yards out for their first TD, and his pick-six sealed the game in the fourth quarter. 

The AFC East is a little tighter and potentially a lot more fun than anyone expected nine weeks ago. 

Thumbnail photo via Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

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