The Bills went into Las Vegas and with the continued high-level play of Josh Allen and the offense, jumped out to an early 14-3 lead. The defense showed up big in the later stages of the game with a couple of timely turnovers and Buffalo flew back home still unbeaten at 4-0. This week has been unusual as their next opponent is Tennessee who has been seeing positive tests for Covid-19 throughout their organization. After already having to postpone their contest with the Steelers essentially making it their bye week, this week’s matchup against the Bills is in jeopardy as well. The NFL has rescheduled the Sunday meeting for Tuesday night provided no new positive tests. We will see what happens in the next few days. Until then, let’s take a look at how the division stands after four weeks into the season.
1. Buffalo Bills: 4-0
(Division 2-0) (Conference 3-0)
-Last Game: Won on the road against the Las Vegas Raiders 30-23.
-Stand Outs: The Buffalo defense as a whole gets a lot of credit in this game. Josh Norman notably played an important role after returning for his first action. He was previously on IR with a hamstring injury for the first three weeks. In a familiar scenario the Bills built up a lead and had to hold off a comeback for the victory. The Raiders came into the contest averaging 29 points a game and have the weapons to score quickly. Buffalo’s run defense held Las Vegas to 86 yards on 3.7 yards per carry. With the Bills up by just seven in the fourth quarter and the Raiders driving in Buffalo territory, Josh Norman punched the ball out from Darren Waller and recovered the fumble. Over the next two series the Bills took over on downs and strip sacked Carr to help seal the win.
-Biggest Reason for Concern: Unfortunately, injuries continue to mount for the Bills. Josh Allen landed on his left shoulder awkwardly on a scramble trying to make something happen on a broken play. He left the game briefly but did not miss a snap. More concern centers around cornerback Levi Wallace and linebacker Matt Milano. Matt Milano left the game and did not return as we later learned because of a pectoral injury. This is the second time Milano has been hurt and is listed as week to week. Levi Wallace remained on his back in pain after he sustained an ankle injury and was put on IR Wednesday.
-Up Next: Buffalo is now scheduled to play the Titans in Tennessee on Tuesday. The Titans have almost two dozen positive cases of Covid-19 in their organization with two more confirmed on Thursday. This triggers the closure of the Titans practice facilities until two consecutive days of zero positive tests. The NFL already shuffled Tennessee’s schedule last week for the same reason. At this point it’s a wait and see approach if there are any more positive tests in Tennessee, putting Tuesday’s contest up in the air.
2. New England Patriots: 2-2
(Division 1-0) (Conference 2-1)
-Last Game: Lost on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs 26-10.
-Stand Outs: New England’s tough task of playing the Chiefs in Kansas City was made tougher by the fact that Cam Newton tested positive for Covid-19 and was therefore unable to play. Journeyman Brian Hoyer got the start and was replaced in game by Jarrett Stidham because of poor play. The bright spot for the Patriots continues to be the running game. Although putting up just ten points, the Patriots rushed for 185 yards with Damien Harris leading the way with 100 yards on just 17 carries for 5.9 yards per carry.
-Biggest Reason for Concern: As stated above, Cam Newton missed this game and it cast a glaring light on the lack of depth at the quarterback position. Cam Newton is getting the green light to be a dual threat, running quarterback this season. With that comes the concern of injury as has happened to him in the past. If that were to occur, the play of both Hoyer and Stidham on Sunday shows that the Pats would suffer a severe drop-off at that position.
-Up Next: The Patriots now play host to the Denver Broncos on Monday. This game was also pushed ahead because of Newton and star cornerback Stephon Gilmore having Covid-19. The Broncos come in with a disappointing 1-3 record but caught their first win last week. They did so by laying 37 points on the winless Jets. If Newton misses a second straight week, a game the patriots should win becomes more interesting.
3. Miami Dolphins: 1-3
(Division 0-2) (Conference 1-2)
-Last Game: Lost at home against the Seattle Seahawks 31-23.
-Stand Outs: This was a game that couldn’t have left the Miami faithful feeling optimistic about the offensive production. The inconsistent quarterback play makes it difficult for the skill players to get into any type of rhythm. Wideout Devonte Parker made the most of his targets and topped 100 yards receiving for the first time this season.
-Biggest Reason for Concern: The continuation of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s up and down play has people wondering when 5th overall draft pick Tua Tagovailoa will see the field for his first NFL start. Fitzpatrick had to throw 45 times to amass 315 yards against the Seahawks. His two interceptions without passing for a touchdown now negatively tilt his season totals to five picks to just four scores.
-Up Next: The Dolphins head out to San Francisco to face the 49ers. The 9ers have quarterback issues themselves due to starter Jimmy Garoppolo missing time with an ankle injury. They implemented both backups Nick Mullens and CJ Beathard to get a win last week against the Philadelphia Eagles. Garoppolo did return to practice Wednesday and Thursday in a limited capacity and the team is optimistic he plays against Miami this Sunday.
4. New York Jets: 0-4
(Division 0-1) (Conference 0-3)
-Last Game: Lost at home to the Denver Broncos 37-28.
-Stand Outs: After missing the last two weeks with a hamstring injury, wide receiver Jamison Crowder totaled 104 yards on seven catches. He now has over 100 yards in both games he’s played this season. In his short work, he has shown that he could have a career year. Unfortunately, it will mostly go unnoticed and wasted on a floundering team.
-Biggest Reason for Concern: An already ugly start to the season got even uglier as the face of the franchise and sliver of hope, Sam Darnold sustained a shoulder injury after being flung to the ground. Darnold has previously missed time over his short career and the Jets are 0-6 in those contests. 35-year old and former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco will get the start on Sunday. Flacco played in Denver last season where he led the Broncos to an unimpressive 2-6 record. In those eight starts he accumulated just six touchdowns and five interceptions before missing the rest of the year with a neck injury.
Up Next: The Jets match up with the Arizona Cardinals in New Jersey on Sunday. After making a statement starting out with two consecutive wins, the Cardinals have fallen back to even with two straight losses. Jets fans hope Flacco has some of the talent remaining which helped bring Baltimore a championship and gets their first win of the year. Vegas doesn’t think so, as they have the home team as seven-point underdogs.