How I See It: AFC East Stock Watch

October, 27, 2010
10/27/10
8:20
AM ET
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

FALLING

1. Dolphins red zone offense: They perforated the Steelers' 25-yard line five times and got as far as the 5- and 4-yard lines Sunday. But the Dolphins didn't score a single touchdown in those situations. Dan Carpenter converted a field goal each time instead, and the Dolphins lost by one point. The Dolphins are tied for 18th in red-zone efficiency, scoring touchdowns 50 percent of the time. Only the Cardinals have fewer than the Dolphins' 12 trips inside an opponent's 20-yard line.

2. Patriots' pass protection: Tom Brady was sacked 16 times all last year. In the past three games, opponents have sacked him 10 times. On Sunday, the Chargers recorded four sacks, something that hadn't happened to Brady since December 2006. Not completely sure how much the absences of Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins and fullback Kevin Faulk are playing a role in this trend, but I'm going to guess it's more than a little bit.

[+] EnlargeRyan Fitzpatrick
AP Photo/Gail BurtonRyan Fitzpatrick had a career day against Baltimore, passing for 374 yards and four touchdowns.
3. C.J. Spiller, Bills running back: This year's ninth overall draft choice hasn't been an impact player for weeks, but on Sunday he hurt his team. Spiller fumbled a kickoff on his own 27-yard line with 48 seconds left in the first half. The turnover was crucial. Rather than take an 11-point lead into the locker room (the Bills had the opening possession of the second half), the Ravens scored a touchdown four plays later. On offense, Spiller ran seven times for 33 yards and didn't have a reception for the first time.

RISING

1. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills quarterback: He had the greatest statistical game of his pro career, completing 29 of 43 passes for 374 yards and four touchdowns with a couple interceptions. He posted a 106.2 passer rating. That raised his season rating to 102.0, second in the NFL to only Peyton Manning. Fitzpatrick has 11 touchdown passes (as many as Brady and Tony Romo) in just four starts since taking over for Trent Edwards.

2. Chris Clemons, Dolphins free safety: That position was considered one of the bigger concerns for Miami's defense heading into the season, but Clemons has done well. In that heartbreaking loss to Pittsburgh, he made six tackles, recorded half a sack and forced two fumbles, including the controversial Ben Roethlisberger calamity at the goal line. Clemons went into the game with zero sacks or forced fumbles in his 16-game pro career.

3. Devin McCourty, Patriots cornerback: The 27th pick in April's draft quietly has put together a solid rookie campaign on the treacherous left side and leads the Patriots with four passes defensed. McCourty snagged his first NFL interception last Sunday against the Chargers. Patriots coach Bill Belichick praised McCourty for his consistency not only game-to-game, but also practice-to-practice. McCourty likely will see a lot of Randy Moss this Sunday, when the Vikings visit Gillette Stadium.

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AFC EAST SCOREBOARD