2013 AFC East Midseason Report Card: Can anybody challenge Pats?

By Josh Katzowitz | NFL Writer

With the way the Patriots have played so far this year, this division seems ripe for the taking. Well, at least it did a few weeks ago when the Jets surprisingly had a winning record and the Dolphins were on the uptick. But Miami has lost four in a row, and the Jets have fallen back to .500. The Bills still will present problems for most teams they play, but they won't compete for an AFC East division title this season.

Midseason Team Report Cards
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Still, it's been a fun division to watch, because Buffalo, with two young quarterbacks, has played better than expected. As have the Jets. The big question moving forward is how much New England can improve. The Patriots easily will make the playoffs at this point, but in order to make a deep postseason run, the team will have to play much better.

New England Patriots

MVP: CB Aqib Talib

Surprise: WR Julian Edelman

Disappointment: QB Tom Brady

Going forward: The fact I was seriously considering putting journeyman linebacker Rob Ninkovich as the MVP tells you what you should know about the Patriots season (even though, Ninkovich is a very good player, and Talib, when he's been healthy, has been a standout). Yes, the Patriots are 6-2 and they'll probably win the division. But if the team continues to play so shoddily -- at least, by their standards -- they'll be a quick postseason exit.

The first eight weeks in one GIF:

New York Jets

MVP: DE Sheldon Richardson

Surprise: WR Jeremy Kerley

Disappointment: CB Dee Milliner

Going forward: While rookie quarterback Geno Smith has been up and down all season, just as you would expect out of a rookie, New York's defense has been stout, including Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson on the defensive line. Ultimately, it'll be tough for coach Rex Ryan to keep his job, but the team, even at 4-4, is much better than I thought it'd be.

The first eight weeks in one GIF: (Smith is so good one minute and then fails the next)

Miami Dolphins

MVP: WR Brian Hartline

Surprise: TE Charles Clay

Disappointment: WR Mike Wallace

Going forward: The first three weeks of the season were so exciting, because Miami was winning and showing how it could contend for a division title. A month later, the Dolphins are on a four-game losing streak, and at this point, they don't look like a playoff team. Which, after a free agent spending splurge in the offseason, is a big disappointment.

The first eight weeks in one GIF:

Buffalo Bills

MVP: DE Mario Williams

Surprise: QB Thad Lewis

Disappointment: RB C.J. Spiller

Going forward: The Bills can't be pleased about their 3-5 season, but this also is a better Buffalo squad than we've seen in the past. Lewis has taken over admirably for the injured EJ Manuel, and linebacker Kiko Alonso is one of the most exciting rookies in the league. This team might be a year or two away from contending in the division.

The first eight weeks in one GIF:

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