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State of the Nation: Week 15

NFL: Houston Texans at New York Jets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

And we have another week of football to review. Let’s take a look at what’s going on around the AFC East:

Buffalo Bills 5-9

The Buffalo Bills won a squeaker against a weak Detroit team that has been extremely streaky this season, and we saw more of the same from Allen and the Bills defense. Allen has shown some growth at times and has backed up his pre-draft expectations in terms of athletic potential, but he remains a large question mark as he is still a work in progress. The Bills defense, however, is entirely legitimate. They dominated the Lions offense with the exception of Kenny Golladay, who is one of the more intriguing young wideouts in the league. The Bills coaching staff showed the ability to make halftime adjustments, however, as Golladay recorded 115 yards in the first half, but was limited to 31 yards in the second half. If Allen develops into a decent starter, this team could be dangerous with a dominant defense. Unfortunately for Bills fans, the offense lacks talent at every level and will need revamping.

Miami Dolphins 7-7

The Miami Dolphins were dominated by a Minnesota team that sports a quality, if not elite, defense and a wonky offense. With DeFilippo fired, the new coordinator (Kevin Stefanski) turned to the run as Zimmer had been expecting when the year began. This paid off against the Dolphins, who could not stop the run en route to a 200+ yard rushing game for Minny. On offense, Miami had a couple of big plays that put them on the boards, along with a long pick six from Minkah Fitzpatrick, but otherwise could not block Minnesota linemen, who racked up 9 sacks and allowed only two third down conversions. Miami appears doomed to mediocrity, with enough talent on defense to keep them in most games, but holes on both sides of the ball and a very mediocre Ryan Tannehill.

New England Patriots 9-5

Another consecutive loss for a team that isn’t accustomed to it. The New England Patriots are still clearly the power in the AFC East, but holes continue to show as they lose to other playoff or near-playoff caliber teams on the road. As they currently sit at the #3 seed in the playoffs, this could be a difficult playoff period for New Englanders if they can’t find their way back into a playoff bye. This week, New England kept it close with a Steelers team that has varied from dominant to mediocre. Defense was on display as both teams struggled on third down, and despite Brady’s history of pulling out wins in close games, he narrowly failed to score on the Patriots final drive, trailing by 7 points in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter. While this team is still dangerous in the playoffs, it doesn’t look like the unstoppable machine it has been for the last decade and a half.

New York Jets 4-10

As you probably know, the New York Jets lost a close game with the Texans this weekend. While no one likes losing, this may be the rare case in which fans have to be pleased with what happened. Sam Darnold put together arguably the best game of his young career while some other young players balled out. Fans of the team who wanted to win at least got a competitive game in which the QB of the future showed a lot of promise. Fans who wanted the team to lose must be even happier, as the loss pushed the Jets into the top 5 in draft order while also knocking the Patriots out of the #2 position in playoff seeding. While that’s all good and well, the real takeaway from this game is that Sam Darnold has what it takes to be an elite quarterback if things go right over the next few years. That’s worth more to the Jets than really anything short of...nothing. The future looked bright this weekend.