(CBS New York) – Luge was tough for most of the AFC East in Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season, as the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots all had opened the season with losses. The Miami Dolphins are currently atop the division standings at 1-0, claiming that spot with a 17-16 victory over the Patriots in Mac Jones’ rookie debut.
This week, the division’s four teams face off as the Jets host New England at MetLife Stadium and the Bills travel to Miami to face the Dolphins. Transition has been the keyword for this group of teams throughout the offseason, as the Jets and Patriots each start a rookie quarterback, the Dolphins roll with second-year caller Tua Tagovailoa, and the Bills are looking to make their first AFC East title defense since 1995.
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Week two is a good indicator for all four teams to see how each team’s transition is going at the start of 2021. CBS Boston athletic director Steve Burton walked through both division clashes with CBS Local’s Katie Johnston. before the second week.
All times shown are Eastern.
New England Patriots @ New York Jets, Sunday, September 19 at 1 p.m.
When the Jets and Patriots take to the field at MetLife Stadium this Sunday, it will be the two teams’ 125th meeting of all time. The Patriots have gotten the better of the rivalry so far, with 69 wins against the Jets’ 54, with a mixed tie. This week, two clashes will deliver something the rivalry has never seen before, as both teams begin rookie quarterbacks.
For the Jets, Zach Wilson’s first game was mixed. Wilson started just 6-16 for 84 yards with an interception in the first half of last week’s opener in Carolina. The second half was much better, as the offensive line started giving the BYU product time to work, and it went 14-21 for 174 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers after half-time. Another freshman Jet also made a big contribution in the second half of the year. Corey Davis was at the reception for Wilson’s two touchdown throws.
Defensively, the Jets also found their place in the second half against the Panthers. Carolina took a 16-0 lead early in the first half, but were limited to just three after half-time. With six-time Super Bowl winner head coach Bill Belichick coming to town, Gang Green will need to get off to a quicker start to secure a victory.
For New England, the Patriots lost two fumbles and took more than 80 penalty yards against the Dolphins in the first week. If Belichick and the company are going to add one to the win column this week, those issues cannot become a trend according to Burton.
“There are two things the Patriots need to revisit this week – penalties and ball safety,” said Burton. “One of the guys who dabbled in the ball, Damien Harris, he’s been walking around all summer with a ball strapped to his hand; so he knows better. Then there is a rookie carrying the ball Rhamondre Stevenson who also missed the ball. The turnovers killed the Patriots, they had four fumbles and two where they lost football all together. Then there are the penalties, they were penalized eight times for 84 yards. It’s so unpatriotic when it comes to Bill Belichick’s teams. “
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While there was a lot to dissect in the first week, Burton came away very impressed with the performance of rookie quarterback Mac Jones, saying: “You can’t blame Mac Jones for this loss, he went over- beyond, completed 74% of his passes, and was pretty much with the lights out and on the spot for the most part.
As for their pre-game prediction, Massachusetts’ prediction remains true to their hometown team. “I think it’s going to be all of New England, because they tasted like a humble little tart,” Burton said. “The Patriots have a strong core and they should be 1-0. It wasn’t that last week the Miami Dolphins beat the New England Patriots, the Patriots fought themselves. And so they know that until this week they can’t afford to let that happen at MetLife Stadium. It’s a business trip for them, they know what to do. They know they’re a better team than the New York Jets. And the Jets also suffered a loss. “
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Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins, Sunday, September 19 at 1:00 p.m.
For the other half of the AFC East showdown this weekend, we take a look at the defending AFC East champion, the Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins. At just 25, Josh Allen finds himself as the oldest statesman when it comes to quarterbacks in the East, with Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa the second oldest at 23.
Miami comes off a big win over the Patriots in the first week that saw the Dolphins escape a bite to the nails as they forced a fumble deep into their own turf to seal the game in the fourth quarter. Xavien Howard, an All-Pro of the first team of 2020, is the one who snatched the ball from the hands of Damien Harris to close the contest. Miami’s defense was the story of the afternoon as they allowed 393 yards of attack but just one touchdown. On offense, the Dolphins totaled just 276 yards, but managed to hit the ball twice in the end zone; once with Tagovailos’ feet and once with his arm.
The Bills offense also struggled to get things done last week as their only touchdown came on a pass from Josh Allen to Gabriel Davis in the second quarter. Despite entering halftime with a 10-0 lead, Buffalo chose to pitch rather than run and clear the clock in the second half. In total, Allen pitched 51 times last weekend, with just 25 ground attempts by the Bills as a team. The Bills’ defense exhausted late in the game and allowed 17 points in the fourth quarter, which made all the difference in a final score of 23-16.
“Nobody expected it,” Burton said. “Josh Allen, the Buffalo Bills quarterback, just underperformed. Here’s a guy everyone expects great things from, he signed a huge contract. He’s probably one of the best quarterbacks in the National Football League, and he laid an egg.
Regarding this week’s contest, Burton has high hopes for a rebound from Allen saying, “I don’t expect him to lay two eggs in a row.” Despite high expectations for the Buffalo fourth-year quarterback, Burton expects a close game in South Beach for week two.
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“The Miami Dolphins are a good football team, don’t underestimate them. Obviously, they’re the only ones who’ve won right now, when it comes to AFC East. But I think the Buffalo Bills are a better team. Now that the Buffalo Bills have to travel to Miami, it can be harder to win in Miami at times. But I think the Bills are a better football team than the Dolphins. And the Dolphins are riding right now, even though it will only be game two of the season. “