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Final Word: AFC East

10/1/2010

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 4:

The Buffalo Bills might be better off to ignore Mark Sanchez this time. Sanchez is molten, with back-to-back games of three touchdowns and 120-plus passer ratings. But the key for the Bills will be to forget they intercepted him five times last year and to concentrate on the run. Sanchez leads the NFL in passer rating against five or more pass-rushers. So he's been dangerous against teams that come after him anyway. And let's not forget the Jets piled up an incredible 567 rushing yards and 6.8 yards per carry against the Bills last year. A steady ground attack will be even more appealing for the Jets because the Bills' front seven will be short-handed. Top defensive lineman Marcus Stroud and inside linebacker Andra Davis won't play. But last year's leading tackler, Paul Posluszny, will return from a knee injury.

Chad Henne should have another big night versus the Patriots' pass defense. The Patriots are having serious problems. Career backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick looked great for the Bills last week. Henne is coming off a 363-yard performance and Brandon Marshall exploded for 10 catches against a Jets secondary that's far more talented at cornerback than the Patriots are. Opposing quarterbacks have a 101.3 passer rating against the Patriots, fifth-highest in the NFL. They're averaging 260.3 yards a game. No defense has yielded more than the Patriots' seven receiving touchdowns.

Dolphins cornerback Jason Allen will be in the crosshairs again Monday night. Tom Brady will be looking Allen's way Monday night. With the respect cornerback Vontae Davis is garnering plus Allen's spotty track record, the choice is obvious. Allen was one of the heroes in Week 2, when the Dolphins went into the Metrodome and stole a victory from the Minnesota Vikings. Brett Favre tried to exploit Allen, who came down with two interceptions. But last week, Sanchez picked on him. Allen whiffed while trying to make a tackle on Braylon Edwards, and the play turned into a devastating 67-yard touchdown. Allen also committed a fourth-quarter pass interference in the end zone.

The Bills have cleaned up their act. The Bills were one of the NFL's most undisciplined teams last year. They committed 107 penalties for 855 yards. Their offensive line got flagged a league-high 48 times -- an outrageous 25 times for false starts. New head coach Chan Gailey has made substantial corrections so far. The Bills have committed 15 penalties through three games. Only six teams have been whistled for fewer and only four teams have given up more penalty yardage. Buffalo's offensive linemen have committed only six infractions, three of which have been false starts. Last year's biggest transgressor, left tackle Demetrius Bell, has been charged once.

My last word on Trent Edwards. I received a few notes regarding my critical stance on the Bills' decision to waive Edwards on Monday. The general sentiment was that Edwards was awful and deserved to be dumped. Let's not confuse the issue. I agree that Edwards had proved himself incapable of being Buffalo's quarterback. The issue, however, wasn't whether Edwards should keep his job. I questioned Gailey and general manager Buddy Nix because they assessed Edwards to be a worthy starter after six months of workouts and meetings, an entire training camp, four preseason games and three years of reviewable game film. A veteran coach known for his work with quarterbacks should easily be able to 1) identify a quarterback who doesn't deserve to be on his roster, and 2) figure out he's not worthy of the starting job to begin with. But eight days after Edwards started for the Bills (by Gailey's choice and not injury) and 24 hours after Edwards was the backup (not deactivated as the third QB), the Bills waived him. The end was justified. The means were indefensible.