New England’s reign of dominance in their division is nothing short of absurd. But that’s not saying the AFC East itself is terrible, as shown by occasional playoff appearances from one of the other three teams. Since 2000, each team has had at least a couple of periods of close contention with the Pats. Out of the three current teams in the division, New York appears to have given New England the greatest run for their money since Belichick came to town.
Miami is a close second, as shown by the Patriots record versus each team. New England has easily had the most success against the Bills, having lost only five games to them since 2000. And despite the fact that the Bills are set for the playoffs this year, the Pats were once again able to sweep the season series. The Bills have pretty much been no threat to the Pats, but they could still meet this year in the postseason.
As for the Jets, they have upset the Patriots 11 times in the same period. This even includes a 28-21 playoff victory as recent as 2011. But the Jets haven’t beaten New England since 2015, the longest drought out of the three teams. And even the times they have beaten the Patriots, virtually all games have been close, with even a couple games being in overtime. The Jets have been all over the place in the past few years, either being as good as a fringe playoff team, or as bad as a four-win team.
But the Dolphins have been the most consistent victor out of the three teams, with 14 wins against their rivals. Three of those have come in the last four years, and there have even been two multiple-year stretches where the Dolphins have won more games than the Patriots. Obviously this doesn’t make the Dolphins a better team, but when the Pats come to Miami anything could happen.
Division Standings and Playoffs
In a category that once again throws Buffalo to the back, the number of times each team has been in the top two in the division remains virtually the same between Miami and New York. They both have been in the top two eight times, with Miami being AFC East championships twice to the Jets single time. Miami still has the edge on the Jets, so why aren’t they considered the best out of the three? Well, simply because of the playoffs.
In the last 19 postseasons, there have only been 12 instances of an AFC East team not named the Patriots making the playoffs. This is obviously almost entirely through the wild card spot. In the early years of the dynasty two teams besides the Pats won the division, the Dolphins and Jets. They didn’t get too far, as they both easily fell to the Raiders in the divisional round. Besides those two instances, the last time the Pats didn’t hold the title of Champion was in 2008 to the Dolphins, who fell in the wildcard round.
So the Dolphins have successfully captured the league twice, but the Jets have made the playoffs far more as a wildcard team. The Dolphins made it in 01′ and 16′, with the Jets doing it in 01′, 04′, 05′, 09′, 10′. New York further improves their case against the Patriots by actually beating them in the 2010 divisional round, as they made a mad rush to the Conference Championship game, where they would fall in a close game to the Steelers. But to go even further than appearances, once the Jets are in the playoffs they tend to win at least one game. New York averages two games per playoff run, with Miami never making it past the first round.
More recently, the Bills have made the playoffs through being a wildcard twice (including this year). So Buffalo may be finally starting to catch up to their other AFC East rivals in this regard. While the Dolphins have the edge in games directly against the Pats, the Jets even it up with playoff performance, and their defeat of the Patriots in big games goes a long way. So while there is certainly a case for Miami, the Jets have definitely screwed with us Patriots fans the most.