Pats make gains in AFC East on bye

Passing along a few thoughts on Sunday’s NFL action, as it relates to the Patriots, who were off this weekend:

1. Gains made in the AFC East. A team always likes the idea of gaining ground when it doesn’t play a game. That’s what happened to the Patriots (5-3), as AFC East foes Miami (4-4) and Buffalo (3-5) both lost. The Jets (3-5) are also on the bye. The Patriots have two games remaining against the Dolphins, and one apiece against the Bills and Jets.

2. Top teams in AFC keep winning. The teams that currently look like prime contenders in the AFC -- Houston (7-1), Baltimore (6-2), Denver (5-3) and Pittsburgh (5-3) -- all won, with the Steelers’ road win over the Giants arguably the most impressive result among that group. The Patriots would lose a potential head-to-head tiebreaker against the Ravens because they lost to them Sept. 23, while they would win a potential head-to-head tiebreaker against the Broncos because they beat them Oct. 7.

3. Keeping an eye on Bills. The Patriots host the Bills on Nov. 11, and Buffalo enters having lost four of its last five. … Former Patriots defensive end Mark Anderson remains sidelined after undergoing knee surgery. … Getting running back C.J. Spiller more touches figures to be a hot topic this week as he had only six carries in Sunday’s loss to Houston. … Cornerback Aaron Williams (knee) left Sunday’s game in the second half and did not return. … The Bills had three trips inside the red zone against the Texans and didn’t score a touchdown.