AFC East Breakdown: Week 8
By Brian Miller
(Brian Miller writes for Phin Phanatic, which is FSB’s Dolphins blog. Representing the rest of the AFC East are Musket Fire, The J-E-T Press and The BuffaLowdown.)
The AFC East got tighter after the week 8 weekend ended. No longer are the Buffalo Bills standing alone at the top of the division as they find themselves joined by the New England Patriots. The New York Jets found a way to win in spite of the poor play of Brett Favre. What it means is that after 8 weeks of football, only 2 games separate the top from the bottom as no one appears to really “want” it.
Looking back: The Bills found themselves trailing early and leading in the 3rd. With a 16 – 7 lead in the 3rd quarter it appeared that the Bills would move to 6-1 but they imploded offensively and defensively turning the ball over 4 times in the 4th, giving up a safety, and ultimately losing 25-16. The loss put the Bills into a tie for 1st with the New England Patriots.
Looking ahead: The Bills return home for a division showdown against the New York Jets who are one game behind. The Bills will face a solid offensive in the Jets with Brett Favre having a far better long ball than the Dolphins Chad Pennington. The Bills could leave next weekend in one of three spots. Leading alone, tied once again, or in a 3 way tie. The Bills will have to play a solid game and put this weekends loss behind them.
Miami Dolphins (3-4):
Looking back: The Dolphins marched down the field and scored on their opening drive for the first time in what seemed like forever, dating back to 2006. They needed to rally late as the defense gave up the 7-0 lead to go into halftime trailing 9-7 after a Ricky Williams fumble. After surrendering a touchdown in the 3rd, the Dolphins defense and offense came alive and shut the Bills down on their way to a 3rd victory this season.
Looking ahead: The Dolphins get no breaks as they travel to the mile high city of Denver in an inter-conference game against the Broncos. Denver has a very potent passing game, something the Dolphins have had trouble defending. However, the Broncos are weak at RB but will have highly-regarded rookie Ryan Torain back on the field following an injury. The Broncos defense has problems stopping solid running games and the Dolphins will need to grind out a clock management game if they want to keep the Broncos offense off the field.
Looking back: The Patriots needed a late score to hold off the suddenly resurgent St. Louis Rams who lost for the first time since firing former HC Scott Linehan. The Patriots allowed the Rams to pass at will but held on for the victory and in doing so moved back into the first place slot with the Buffalo Bills. QB Matt Cassell did not have a stellar day but is realizing his job is more geared towards caretaking the game than having to win it. A good sign for the Patriots.
Looking ahead: The Patriots will get another test this coming week when they take on their out of division rival Indianapolis Colts and the Manning’s. While the game lacks the aura of past games with Peyton vs. Brady, the game is a must win for both teams who are struggling to find a defined identity and both chasing others in their division. The Colts are chasing the Titans and the Patriots have caught up with the Bills and will try and keep them in their rearview mirror. Despite the lack of Brady, this game looks to be another good one in the making.
Looking back: The Jets almost blew it…again. The team needed a last minute rally to stave off the Kansas City Chiefs who looked ready to take one from the Jets. Brett Favre looked his age for 4 quarters throwing 3 interceptions, one of which was a “pick” 6. He only needed one final drive to look like the Brett Favre that the Jets thought they were getting when they traded for him this off-season. Favre led the team on a final drive and with one minute left tossed the game winner to Laverneous Coles and kept the Jets one game out of first place.
Looking ahead: The Jets will face off with the Buffalo Bills and a win could move the team into first place should the Patriots lose to the Colts. A three way tie at the top will get this team back to playoff focusing. A loss to the jilted Bills could begin to fray the threads of the expensive team that is expected to be looking at playoffs this season.