AFC East Stock Watch

September, 20, 2011
9/20/11
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Falling

1. Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins (0-2) dropped their first two home games and now have to win on the road. Miami couldn't put it together for four quarters in a pair of losses to the New England Patriots and Houston Texans. The Dolphins are probably not as bad as their record. They lost to two of the top teams in the AFC. But this road game against the Cleveland Browns (1-1) is a must-win and a good measuring stick of where Miami stands.

2. Buffalo Bills' defense: Buffalo's defense was lights out against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1. In Week 2, the Oakland Raiders' offense pretty much had its way with the Bills. The Raiders amassed 454 total yards in a 38-35 shootout loss to Buffalo. You had the sense in the second half that it would come down to who had the ball last with enough time to score. Oakland scored too quickly with a 50-yard bomb to receiver Denarius Moore with less than four minutes remaining. That led to Ryan Fitzpatrick's comeback drive for Buffalo.

3. New York Jets' running game: Maybe I should give a pass to the Jets after thrashing the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. But despite the blowout, the offensive line is still failing to open holes for the running backs. I watched the games against Jacksonville and Dallas. I'm seeing too many defenders penetrating and hitting backs early or at the line of scrimmage. Center Nick Mangold's high-ankle sprain also contributed to the falling stock.

Rising

[+] EnlargeFred Jackson
Richard Mackson/US PresswireFred Jackson leads the lead in rushing after a two-touchdown, 117 yards performance in Week 2.
1. Fred Jackson, Bills running back: The NFL's leading rusher is unexpectedly in Buffalo. The Bills' offense, which uses a lot of spread and shotgun formations, has been very efficient running the football. Jackson rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns against a pretty good Oakland front seven. Jackson averaged 7.8 yards per carry.

2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots quarterback: It’s kind of strange when 423 passing yards and three touchdowns only gets you the No. 2 spot. Brady's stock already is so high that we're expecting big numbers. After he threw for 517 yards and four touchdowns in Week 1, Sunday's game against the Chargers was only his second-best performance. Still, Brady is on a monster pace and is the early MVP favorite after two games.

3. Antonio Cromartie, New York Jets corner: Cromartie had a nice, bounce-back game against Jacksonville. He used his great athleticism to help the Jets on defense and special teams. Cromartie recorded two interceptions, three tackles and returned a pair of kickoffs for 40-plus yards. New York needs to see more of the Week 2 Cromartie this season, not the Week 1 version who struggled against Dallas.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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