Over the past decade, the AFC East has been dominated by one team.
The New England Patriots have won the division nine of the last 11 seasons. The Miami Dolphins stole the crown most recently in 2008. Before that, the last team to win the division that didn't have Tom Brady was the New York Jets in 2002.
Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills haven't won the division since 1995. This season, the division will likely finish tighter than any in recent memory, but the Patriots will still walk away on top.
The Bills tried to make a power-play when they signed the biggest free agent in the pool, DE Mario Williams. To this point, that hasn't seemed to help them very much. Their defense actually looks worse than it did last year.
The Miami Dolphins were supposed to finish in the cellar this year, but they refuse to go down quietly. Reggie Bush is proving every week that last year was no fluke, and rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill has overachieved in his first year.
The Jets were dealt the short end of the injury stick when their two best players, Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes, went down with season-ending injuries in consecutive weeks. Despite an at-times anemic offense, they have showed that they still have the ability to make some noise.
The Patriots are playing some shaky football. They actually seem to be having trouble locking up games in the fourth quarter. While they have blown a few games and have nearly blown a few more, they are still atop the division, and they will not give up that lead very easily.
Here is a projected look at the final AFC East standings in 2012.
The Bills began the 2012 season looking to finally bring the playoffs back to Buffalo. Now, they're just trying to keep their heads above water.
The Bills have already been blown out three times. They looked good against the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cleveland Browns early in the year, but that's not saying much. After an inspiring win in Arizona, they had an opportunity to turn their season around.
They responded last week by letting Chris Johnson (of all people) run all over them, as the Tennessee Titans beat them in a heartbreaker.
They now get to think about that loss during their bye week, before playing two straight on the road against the Patriots and the Houston Texans.
If they drop both of those games, as conventional knowledge says they will, the season will be as good as over.
You can't expect to win the division by giving up 177 rushing yards per game. That's good for last in the league by a wide margin.
While running back C.J. Spiller has looked better than solid, Ryan Fitzpatrick's erratic play is killing this team. They simply cannot rely on him every week.
When the quarterback varies between good and terrible every other week, and the defense is just terrible every single week, it adds up to a very cold winter in Buffalo.
Final record: 7-9 (1-5 AFC East)
First-year head coach of the Miami Dolphins Joe Philbin has done good things for this franchise. They have struggled in recent years, but they are certainly on the right track under this new leadership.
Besides a blowout loss to the Texans and a blowout win over the Oakland Raiders, the Dolphins have only played in tight games. Two of their losses have come in overtime.
They will now come out of their bye week with a two-game road trip to play the Jets and the Indianapolis Colts. If they can split those two games, they'll have chance to go on a run. The next four games for the Dolphins come against weak defenses.
After that stretch, the schedule gets harder. If the Dolphins can come out of these four games with a 3-1 record, then they will have a legitimate chance to make some noise. If not, they may find it difficult to keep up with the division, because of tough matchups ahead with Seattle, San Francisco and two against New England.
The good news for the Dolphins is that they've had a lot of success on defense and running the ball this year. Reggie Bush is proving every week that last year was not a fluke. The run defense, meanwhile, ranks in the top five in the NFL.
Their issue is their quarterback. Rookie Ryan Tannehill has played better than anyone thought he would, but it's not going to be enough. His four touchdowns to eight turnovers is troubling.
Tannehill is showing that he may be worthy of being the Dolphins' franchise, but for now, he is not able to do enough to get Miami over the hump.
Final record: 8-8 (1-5 AFC East)
The New York Jets made a splash last spring when they traded for polarizing quarterback Tim Tebow, but nobody expected them to make much of a splash during the regular season.
Things looked much worse for Rex Ryan's team after Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes went down for the year.
Despite their maddening inconsistency, the Jets have shown that they are still a good football team. They have already beaten Miami and Buffalo. They hung close with New England and Houston.
If New England keeps dropping games, the Jets are the best bet to take advantage of it. They will have to beat a few tough opponents if they want to make the playoffs, either as the division winner or wild card. The good news for them is that the schedule gets a lot easier from this point on.
The Jets only have one more bad matchup on the road (Week 10 at Seattle). The rest of their road games are weak, and they see their tougher opponents at home.
On top of that, Rex's defense is finally starting to play up to its old standards.
The offense needs work. They can't seem to figure out what they're doing from one week to the next, but as long as they don't blow too many games, the defense should be good enough to win some games.
Whether their predicted final record is good enough for a playoff birth in the weak AFC, we'll have to see.
Final record: 9-7 (4-2 AFC East)
While the Patriots remain at the top of the AFC East, they are far from being the cream of the crop.
They have blown four fourth-quarter leads already. They were able to come back to defeat the Jets last week, but if that doesn't happen, then it's panic time in Foxborough.
The frustrating thing is that New England's offense is performing at its usual high level, and for the first time in a few years the defense is clicking too (the run defense, at least).
And yet, the Patriots are only a game and a half over .500.
The Patriots' remaining stretch on the schedule is pretty tough for sure. They will play the Jets and the Dolphins on the road, before returning home for the Texans and 49ers.
Last year, it would be safe to bet that New England would come out of that stretch 4-0. The way things have been going lately, though, they could come out of that stretch 2-2.
The AFC East has looked so mediocre to this point that if New England turned on the afterburners, they are capable of leaving the other three teams in the dust. If they don't, then it may be a very interesting December.
Final record: 10-6 (5-2 Big East)