Bills rule AFC East, with Dolphins, Jets, Pats far behind

NEW YORK (AP) — Josh Allen refuses to live in anything but the present.

The fact the Buffalo Bills have won the AFC East the past two years is nice, and so is having made the playoffs three straight seasons while building a bright future.

It’s all about this season, though — a year that could be pretty special in Buffalo. And the Bills have that in perspective.

“Nothing that we did last year is...

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NEW YORK (AP) — Josh Allen refuses to live in anything but the present.

The fact the Buffalo Bills have won the AFC East the past two years is nice, and so is having made the playoffs three straight seasons while building a bright future.

It’s all about this season, though — a year that could be pretty special in Buffalo. And the Bills have that in perspective.

“Nothing that we did last year is going to carry over to this year,” Allen insisted. “Nothing that we’re going to do next year is going to affect us this year. It’s a brand-new season. Everybody’s starting 0-0.

“We’re a new team. We’re a different team, we know that, we understand that. We’ve got new pieces. We’ve got a new offensive coordinator. We’ve got a new mindset.”

Same goal, though.

The Bills were a wild, wacky overtime loss to Kansas City from getting to the AFC championship for the second year in a row. And just getting there again this season won’t be good enough.

“We know what we want to accomplish and it’s no secret,” Allen said. “I think there’s 31 other teams that say they want to win the Super Bowl. And if they don’t say it, they’re lying. That’s our goal. Everything that we do is toward that goal.”

And many believe they’ll have a great chance at that, with the Bills listed by FanDuel as the Super Bowl favorite.

With the depth Buffalo has all over its roster, it’s hard to argue.

That’s bad news for the rest of the AFC East, which has improved but has quarterback questions in the division’s other three cities.

Tua Tagovailoa still must prove himself in Miami. Same for Zach Wilson in New York. Mac Jones is coming off a solid rookie season in New England, but can he and the Patriots repeat that success?

It all leads to what should be an easy path to a third straight division crown for the Bills.

“Yeah, I think there’s naturally going to be a target on our backs,” Buffalo tight end Dawson Knox said. “But we didn’t even make the AFC championship last year. So I think we’ve still got tons to prove.”

STEPPING IN

If there’s one question mark on offense in Buffalo, it’s how Ken Dorsey transitions to being a first-time offensive coordinator.

Dorsey, a former NFL QB, has Allen’s backing after serving as the Bills’ quarterbacks coach the past three seasons.

“He’s doing a really good job,” Allen said. “His call sheet, how he’s talking to us before games and in preparation for games, making sure that the call sheet that he has for whatever quarterback is out there is the plays that we are comfortable with. And I really appreciate how he’s doing that.”

TUA’S TEAM

Tagovailoa is being given another — perhaps, last? — chance to prove he’s Miami’s quarterback of the future.

And the Dolphins and new coach Mike McDaniel made some upgrades to try to boost the NFL’s 22nd scoring offense.

Tyreek Hill, a three-time All-Pro and one of the league’s most dynamic players in Kansas City, was acquired in a trade. He and Jaylen Waddle form one of the league’s most potent duo of receivers — and two premier playmaking threats.

So Tagovailoa won’t be lacking game-changers around him.

“I say this every time this question is asked, and I’ve been kind of saying it over the last two years, because he keeps growing on a pretty linear path,” tight end Durham Smythe said. “It’s just his grasp of the offense, his grasp of professional football in general. … I think, really, the sky is the limit.”

ENDING THE DROUGHT?

The focus for the Jets is on Wilson, who’s coming off a rookie season that started rough but finished with optimism as he didn’t throw an interception in his final five games.

The quarterback missed most of the preseason with a bone bruise and torn meniscus in his right knee. But he was expected to return early in the regular season.

How he progresses in his second season will go a long way in determining if New York can end its 11-year playoff drought, the longest active skid in the NFL. After upgrades on offense — signing tight ends C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin, offensive linemen Laken Tomlinson and Duane Brown, and drafting wide receiver Garrett Wilson and running back Breece Hall — the Jets are confident they’ll be able to make a run for the postseason with their young QB leading the way.

“Our goal is to make it to the playoffs and win in the playoffs,” Conklin said. “Internally, we think we can do that. Now we have to do it every week and prove it.”

JONESING FOR OFFENSE

New England’s inconsistency on offense after the exit of coordinator Josh McDaniels to be the head coach in Las Vegas has stood out this summer.

Jones has more options, led by trade acquisition DeVante Parker, who has resembled the wide receiver that put up career numbers for Miami in 2019. But there are questions at running back after a late preseason injury to Damien Harris limited him in the final exhibition game. The offensive line has also struggled.

And Jones will be counted on in his second season to make a big jump, or it could be an abnormally long season for Bill Belichick’s bunch.

“We’re trying to get it all together and it’s gonna happen,” Jones insisted. “We want to go out there and execute better. That’s all it comes down to. Individually I think we all can play better. Then, once that happens, collectively, it will look a lot better.”

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

Bills, Dolphins, Jets, Patriots.

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AP Sports Writers Kyle Hightower and John Wawrow contributed.

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