AFC East Week 4 X Factors

September, 29, 2011
9/29/11
4:00
PM ET
Three AFC East teams will try to rebound from losses this week, while the first-place Buffalo Bills (3-0) look to stay undefeated.

Here are some underrated X factors who could make an impact in Week 4:

Mason
Mason
Jets (2-1)

X factor: Derrick Mason, WR

Analysis: Mason will return to familiar territory Sunday when the Jets play at the Baltimore Ravens. He spent six seasons there and helped the Ravens win a lot of games. Mason is still trying to find his niche in New York as the team's No. 3 receiver. But he is coming off his best game in Week 3. Mason caught a season-high six receptions in the slot. He says he's at peace with his release. But expect Mason to be motivated in a big game for New York (2-1).

McKelvin
McKelvin
Bills (3-0)

X factor: Leodis McKelvin, CB

Analysis: McKelvin, a former first-round pick, has been criticized in Buffalo for not making enough impact plays the past four seasons. Buffalo's starting corner has been up and down in 2011, but showed flashes of great play last week against New England. McKelvin made an impressive interception against Tom Brady by shadowing Patriots receiver Chad Ochocinco. The Bills need more plays like that from McKelvin, who will face another good receiver this week in Bengals rookie A.J. Green.

Branch
Branch
Patriots (2-1)

X factor: Deion Branch, WR

Analysis: Branch had a rare, zero catch game last week in a loss to the Bills. Teammate Wes Welker (16 receptions, 217 yards, two touchdowns) had it going and Branch took a back seat. Expect Welker to get a lot of coverage from the Raiders after his big game. That should allow Branch to see more single coverage. He remains a big part of the offense with tight end Aaron Hernandez ailing and receiver Chad Ochocinco struggling to get acclimated in New England.

Taylor
Taylor
Dolphins (0-3)

X factor: Jason Taylor, defensive end

Analysis: The Dolphins are in the doldrums after losing three straight. Head coach Tony Sparano also is in the hot seat. Miami needs its veteran players more than ever to step up in a road game against the San Diego Chargers. Taylor, 37, is no longer the Pro Bowl performer he once was. But he's a leader in the locker room who needs to set an example of how to keep playing through adversity. Taylor has four tackles and a sack in three games.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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