AFC East Breakdown: Week 11
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 race for the division in the AFC East has not been this tight in almost a decade if not more. All 4 teams have a viable shot at winning the division and by the end of week 12, two teams may find themselves sitting atop the carousel of the division.
Buffalo Bills (5-5):
Looking back: The Bills dug themselves out of an early 13 point Monday Night deficit to take their first lead late in the 4th quarter. The Browns drove the field setting up a 56 yard field goal attempt that made the game a 2 point margin in favor of the Browns. With 90 seconds left on the clock, Trent Edwards moved his team into position for a game winning field goal but Rian Lindell sailed the kick wide right giving the Cleveland Browns the win. The loss puts the Bills two games back of the division leading Jets.
Looking ahead: The Bills will try and end a 4 game slide after a 5-1 start that has seen the team fall from first to last in as many weeks. Week 12 will not give the Bills any reprieve as they face the Kansas City Chiefs who scrapped out a near win against the New Orleans Saints. The game stands to be as close to a must win for the Bills if they plan to keep pace in the AFC East and wish to remain in contention for a wild card birth.
Miami Dolphins (6-4):
Looking back: The Dolphins win against the visiting Raiders was as ugly as you could get but that win is still a win. The Dolphins find themselves in a position that even the most optimistic fans could not have imagined…a tie for second place in the middle of November. The Phins rallied late to win the contest but it was their lack of special teams that once again almost single handedly gave away a victory. The Dolphins coaching staff once again took to conservative play calling until the final drive when they called upon Chad Pennington to rally for a win.
Looking ahead: There is no bigger game for the Dolphins than the New England Patriots and for both teams it could put an end to hopes of a division championship. The Dolphins will look to extend their winning streak to 5 in a row while the Patriots will be looking at redemption for their week 3 loss to Miami. Both teams will be looking to keep pace with the Jets.
New England Patriots (6-4):
Looking back: The Patriots battled the New York Jets for first place in the AFC East but came up short in their Thursday night prime-time game. The Patriots overcame a large deficit to rally and force the game into overtime but never got the ball. The Patriots are playing without several starters but Matt Cassel is looking better each week. While the loss puts the Patriots one game behind the Jets, their season split with the team keeps them within reach of the division.
Looking ahead: For the Patriots it will be a face off once again as they face the Miami Dolphins. In week 3 the Patriots lost big to the Phins and will try and deal Miami the same fate at the Dolphins home. The Patriots don’t expect any surprises this week and know that the game will be smash mouth football. For the Patriots a loss to Miami will put them 2 games behind the Phins as they will be swept in the season match-ups.
Looking back: The Jets gave away the lead to the Patriots and almost the lead in the AFC East. Giving up 10 4th quarter points to allow the Patriots to tie the game forcing overtime. In OT it was typical Brett Favre magic. Moving the Jets down the field and into scoring position for the game winning field goal. The win marks the first victory for the Jets over New England since 2006. Favre’s near perfect performance netted him 2 TD’s on the day.
Looking ahead: To some this is the game of the week. A battle of brawn in the conference as the Jets and the Tennessee Titans square off. Both teams possess run stopping defenses who can pressure the QB. For the Jets, they will need an unrattled Brett Favre to perform more magic and another near flawless game. Defense however will be the key and the team that turns the ball over less should come away with a win. The game will be played in Tennessee so the Jets will not get the favor of their home team crowd.