Buffalo Bills establish themselves as the kings of the AFC East
For nearly two decades the New England Patriots have dominated the AFC East and the NFL. The departure of Tom Brady in 2020 and the Buffalo Bills‘ quick ascension, however, has marked the start of a new era within the division.
In Week 18, the Bills clinched the AFC East by defeating the New York Jets, meaning the Patriots would head to frigid Orchard Park for the AFC Wild Card round.
Prior to kickoff, temperatures were in the single digits with the wind chill well below zero, meaning the game would be one of the coldest in NFL history.
The Bills started off hot, going into halftime with a 27-3 lead over their historically dominant rivals.
Josh Allen and tight end Dawson Knox connected on two touchdown passes in the first quarter and the Patriots’ sputtering offense struggled to get anything going. The Bills added insult to injury with two rushing touchdowns by running back Devin Singletary to finish off the half.
Down three scores, the Patriots desperately needed an answer to start the third quarter. Instead, rookie quarterback, Mac Jones threw his second interception of the night.
The Bills followed that up with yet another touchdown. This time, it was a 34-yard toss to wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
The Patriots eventually put a touchdown on the board in the third quarter, but it was too little too late, as the Bills’ offense continued to pull away.
Buffalo made bad things worse for New England as they scored 14 fourth-quarter points. The final score was 47-17.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen finished the game with 308 passing yards and five touchdowns to go along with his 66 rushing yards. Running back Devin Singletary and tight end Dawson Knox led the charge for Buffalo, combining for four touchdowns.
On defense, safety Micah Hyde and cornerback Levi Wallace each intercepted passes to go along with three sacks from the defensive line.
The Bills will advance to the divisional round of the playoffs next weekend. If the Kansas City Chiefs defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night, the Bills will visit Kansas City. If Pittsburgh wins, the Bills will host the Cincinnati Bengals.
As for the Jets, they have a lot of work to do this offseason regardless, but the emergence of a dominant team like Buffalo in the division certainly makes their rebuild even tougher.
Having dealt with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady for the better part of two decades, the Bills are picking up right where their rivals left off. Josh Allen has become an upper-echelon QB and head coach Sean McDermott consistently trots out top defenses year in and year out.
At the same time, this loss is not indicative of the Patriots or where they are headed either. They are led by future Hall of Fame head coach Bill Belichick and have only just begun their run with quarterback Mac Jones.
Belichick and the Patriots overachieved this season by making the playoffs, to begin with.
The Buffalo Bills are a good football team, but so are the New England Patriots.
Even with the Bills’ dominant win, this season has been an important gauge for where the AFC East is headed. Jets general manager Joe Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh have their work cut out for them as they try to close in on the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots.
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