The New England Patriots came into Week 9 with a good opportunity to pick up ground on the first place Buffalo Bills in the AFC East title race.
The Bills had a tough matchup Sunday afternoon at home versus the NFC-leading Seattle Seahawks and their MVP-caliber quarterback Russell Wilson.
The Patriots have what should be their easiest matchup of the season so far against the winless New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Monday night.
Buffalo, however, responded to its challenge in impression fashion by upsetting Seattle with a 44-34 victory at Bills Stadium.
The Bills improve to 7-2 with the win, which increases their lead over the third-place Patriots to four games. Remember, the Bills beat the Patriots 24-21 last week. Buffalo didn't play particularly well in that win over New England, but it quieted many critics Sunday with a great performance against a legit Super Bowl contender.
The Patriots have won the AFC East in 11 consecutive seasons, but the likelihood of that streak extending continues to dwindle with every Bills win. ESPN's Football Power Index gave the Patriots a three percent chance to win the division entering Week 9, and those odds likely will shrink following the Bills' latest victory.
The Patriots probably need to finish the regular season with a 7-2 record (or better) to extend their postseason appearance streak to 12 seasons. Luckily for the Patriots, they have a slightly weaker remaining schedule (entering Week 9) than their divisional rivals.
Winning the division isn't an impossible task for the Patriots, and they will see the Bills again in Week 16, but the early results from Week 9 didn't do anything to improve New England's chances of retaining the AFC East crown.