The AFC East is bringing all of its usual drama so far in 2023.
The New York Jets looked like one of the worst teams in football last week, but how do we reconcile that with the fact that they beat the Buffalo Bills?
Are the Miami Dolphins actually one of the best teams in football?
We didn’t expect the New England Patriots to dominate, but could they fall to 0-3?
Here are our predictions for what will shake out in the AFC East in Week 3.
Patriots vs. Jets
This is obviously the Week 3 game that carries the most interest for Patriots fans, and it’s also the contest with the biggest ramifications on the early AFC East standings.
A loss here would dig New England into a pretty brutal hole. Falling two wins behind the Jets early could spell disaster considering the Bills will almost surely overtake New York eventually, and the Pats would need to finish ahead of the Jets for any potential playoff spot.
Luckily, I foresee no such disaster, even in a road game.
Zach Wilson has been awful against most opponents over his career, but he’s especially bad against Bill Belichick’s defenses.
New York has allowed pressure at the NFL’s highest rate on plays where the opponent doesn’t blitz, and that’s bad news for Wilson. If Belichick can get pressure by only rushing four (which he absolutely will when one of those four is Matthew Judon), Wilson is going to be completely incapable of figuring out the coverages behind the rush and will get picked apart.
The Jets’ defense hasn’t been terrible, but they’re no more intimidating than the Philadelphia Eagles unit that Mac Jones lit up for 316 yards and 3 TDs. Plus, the offense should get terrific starting field position all night thanks to Wilson’s ineptitude.
Pats fans finally get the win they’ve been waiting for to open the season.
Prediction: Patriots 24 – Jets 13
Bills vs. Commanders
The Bills drew a very easy schedule to open the season (at least, very easy once Aaron Rodgers went down), as most teams would kill to start the year against the Jets, Las Vegas Raiders and Washington Commanders.
Josh Allen bounced back last week after blowing it against New York, and while I’d love to see him struggle again I just don’t think the Commanders are the team to make it happen.
Washington is 2-0, sure, but not a good 2-0 by any stretch.
The Commanders just got burned for 308 yards and 3 touchdowns by Russell Wilson last week, also allowing him to rush for 56 yards on 6 carries. Wilson is no Allen, however, and Washington is going to be brought back down to earth in this one.
Allen gets whatever he wants in this one, and the Buffalo D has no trouble against the same offensive line that let Sam Howell get sacked 6 times while throwing for a 77.6 passer rating against the lowly Arizona Cardinals. The Bills’ pass rush has an above-average 25.5% pressure rate, and they’ll be especially dominant against an o-line that has given up 10 sacks in two games so far.
This one gets out of hand and Buffalo earns an easy dub.
Prediction: Bills 30 – Washington 17
Dolphins vs. Broncos
I’m not ready to crown the 2-0 Dolphins or buy in on Tua Tagovailoa as the favorite to win NFL MVP, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get it done against the Denver Broncos.
The Broncos may have sacked Howell 4 times, but they also just let him sling it for 299 yards with 2 touchdowns and no picks. Remember, this is the same Howell who couldn’t solve Arizona’s lowly secondary. They also allowed Jimmy Garoppolo a 107.8 passer rating in Week 1, making back-to-back weeks they’ve allowed lesser QBs than Tua to hit triple-digits.
How is that team going to stop what we’ve seen from Tua, Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle? (Hint: they’re not).
Denver’s passing attack will make it interesting against a Miami defense that looks ready to turn most of their games into shootouts this season, but the Broncos won’t be able to keep up in a firefight.
Prediction: Miami 31 – Denver 27
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Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.