Week 15 AFC East Weekly Buzz: Bills vs. Packers, Patriots vs. Dolphins, Jets vs. Titans

Buffalo Bills

Despite the best efforts of their defense, which intercepted Peyton Manning twice and help him without a touchdown pass for the first time in 51 games, the Bills’ lethargic offensive effort yielded only 3 points through three quarters, and a late rally fell a touchdown short. While Kyle Orton was able to go 38 of 57 for 355 yards, he had one touchdown and two bad interceptions, both in the third quarter, including one in the redzone, and by any other metric besides yardage, Orton did not play well at all, though Matthew Fairburn of Syracuse.com was quick to point out

Even if Buffalo’s offense could count on a subpar day by Aaron Rodgers similar to what Manning had on Sunday, as the Packers are only 3-3 on the road, averaging only 22.5 points per game (compared to nearly 41 points per game at home), Orton has only five touchdown passes to four interceptions in the five weeks since the bye, and his touchdown to interception ratio is 6-0 against the Jets, and 8-7 the other nine games he has started. If Orton doesn’t play much better against Green Bay, it won’t matter what the Bills’ defensive unit can do to an elite quarterback for the second straight week.

Tannehill Ravens 350

Miami Dolphins

The sight of Elvis Dumervil coming after Ryan Tannehill was often on Sunday, as Dumervil took down the third-year quarterback for 3.5 sacks, while Terrell Suggs had 1.5 of his own, and one more for C.J. Mosley to give the Ravens six in a 28-13 loss for Miami.

For the first time, the Branden Albert injury from Week 10 against the Lions appeared to have put have finally caught up with the Dolphins, as the combination of rookie Ja’Wuan James at left tackle and Dallas Thomas at right tackle could not protect their signal-caller when it mattered most, in a battle with a fellow AFC North playoff contender with postseason implications on the line, a huge part of Miami being outscored 28-3 after a 10-0 first quarter lead. With a trip to Gillette Stadium upcoming to face the division and conference-leading Patriots on Sunday, who were able to sack Philip Rivers four times on Sunday night despite no Dont’a Hightower and Chandler Jones, who both have 4.5 sacks and could be playing when the AFC East rivals meet.

Play calling was also a huge factor in Miami’s demise versus Baltimore, as they had only three run plays in the second half with a 10-7 halftime lead, and doing that versus a New England secondary with Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner that does not allow a lot of separation is just asking for trouble. In a competitive AFC where 10 wins may be what is needed to get into the postseason, this may be the Dolphins’ last stand for this season, and also maybe for head coach Joe Philbin’s job, as another season on the outside looking in of the playoffs will not make owner Stephen Ross happy.


New York Jets

Unlike last Monday night against the Dolphins, the Jets were able to have a balanced offensive effort versus the Vikings on Sunday, with Geno Smith throwing for 254 yards on 18 of 29, a touchdown and an interception, utilizing wide receivers Percy Harvin (6 catches, 124 yards and a touchdown) and Eric Decker (6 catches for 89 yards), to go along with 168 yards. Just like last Monday night, though, the game still ended in a loss, as Teddy Bridgewater hit Jarius Wright on a screen versus a New York blitz, and the receiver ran 87 yards for a touchdown to give Minnesota a 30-24 win in overtime.

To make matters worse, Harvin, who had his first receiving touchdown in over two years and put up 236 all-purpose yards, left the game late with a left ankle injury, and had crutches in the locker room, according to the New York Daily News’ Manish Mehta. ESPN New York’s Rich Cimini wrote that Harvin could be a salary cap casualty in the offseason, which would be another example of the Jets failing in free agency and personnel moves under general manager John Idzik, who traded for the talented receiver earlier this season.

This weekend’s game against the Tennessee Titans, who are also 2-11 and are currently No. 2 in the NFL draft order (New York at no. 4) is at least another opportunity for Smith to audition himself for possibly the next front office and coaching staff, as a loss to a lowly Titans team that hasn’t found a consistent signal-caller between Jake Locker and rookie Zach Mettenberger would not look good for the second-year quarterback.

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New England Patriots

A lot has changed since New England went down to Miami in Week 1 and blew a 20-10 halftime lead, eventually losing to the Dolphins 33-20. For example, Rob Gronkowski went from a measly four catches for 40 yards and a touchdown in that game to nine consecutive games with at least 68 yards receiving, with 850 yards and seven touchdowns in that stretch, re-establishing himself as the dominant player at his position.

Tom Brady went from throwing 56 passes in that game to not throwing that many in a game since then, with two 53 passing attempt games in blowout wins over the Denver Broncos and Detroit Lions being the closest thing, with LeGarrette Blount helping to establish balance. The secondary has become one of the best in the NFL with offseason additions Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, and Patrick Chung, and helped the Patriots only lose one game in a stretch of elite quarterbacks like Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, and Andrew Luck, and a linebacking core that lost leader Jerod Mayo has begun to find stars like Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins with tremendous versatility.

With three straight games against division rivals (vs. Miami, at New York, and vs. Buffal0), New England can show that the Green Bay game was a misstep, and win out to claim the first seed and home-field advantage in the AFC, and destroy the playoff hopes of the division rival Dolphins and Bills.

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