How I See It: AFC East Stock Watch

December, 22, 2010
12/22/10
9:53
AM ET
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FALLING

1. Tony Sparano, Dolphins head coach: On a day ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported Bill Cowher is getting itchy to return to the sideline and has Miami ranked highly on his short list of preferred destinations, the Dolphins lost at home to the Bills and fell to 1-6 at Sun Life Stadium. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross predicted his team would play in the upcoming Super Bowl, and while that bit of bravado shouldn't be taken as some sort of guarantee, winning a single home game must embarrass him. With Bill Parcells no longer around to protect his protégé, what's to stop the starry-eyed Ross from mixing up his dull team?

2. C.J. Spiller, Bills running back: The Bills' roster is loaded with contributors who were late-round picks or not drafted at all. Spiller, meanwhile, keeps struggling. Spiller was the ninth overall draft choice and the first back off the board. He ran nine times for 16 yards Sunday against the Dolphins, and that includes one carry for 12 yards. He has 248 rushing yards and is averaging 4.7 yards on 22 catches.

3. Dan Carpenter, Dolphins kicker: He refused to make any excuses after Sunday's three-point loss, but there were two big reasons he missed four field goals. The Dolphins' offense didn't exactly set him up for high-percentage attempts, and winds gusted around 20 mph. Carpenter was wide right from 48 yards, short from 61 yards, wide left from 53 yards and wide right from 48 yards again. But Carpenter did go to the Pro Bowl last year. He can't miss three kicks from 53 and shorter.

[+] EnlargeKyle Arrington and Devin McCourty
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesOn Dec. 19, 2010, against Green Bay, Arrington grabbed his most famous interception to date -- running 36 yards and scoring a touchdown after the pick.

RISING

1. Chan Gailey, Bills head coach: The Bills continue to win despite mounting injuries and a roster that seems to get greener by the week. Gailey called a game that allowed Ryan Fitzpatrick to move the ball with a seventh-round pick and three undrafted rookies at receiver. Buffalo's defense also is finding its way. ESPN Stats & Information noted the Bills went into Sunday having allowed an NFL-high 959 rushing yards up the middle, but they let Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown gain 20 yards on nine carries.

2. Patriots cornerbacks: Devin McCourty and Kyle Arrington each had a strong game in Sunday night's victory over the Packers. McCourty continued his campaign for defensive rookie of the year with 10 tackles, two for losses and a sack. Arrington returned a third-quarter interception 36 yards for a touchdown.

3. Jets offensive line: LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene had been getting stopped cold for a while, and you couldn't have expected them to do much against the NFL's top-rated run defense. The Steelers went into Week 15 allowing 60.1 rushing yards a game. Tomlinson and Greene found enough room to combine for 89 yards. Mark Sanchez also ran for 15 yards, including a 7-yard bootleg touchdown.

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