Final Word: AFC East

September, 30, 2011
9/30/11
1:30
PM ET
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 4:

Strength vs. strength: What happens when the NFL's highest-scoring team meets the league's third-rated defense? We are about to find out. The undefeated Bills (3-0) travel to play the Cincinnati Bengals (1-2). Despite their struggles, the Bengals have been solid defensively under veteran assistant coach Mike Zimmer. The Bills and their spread offense will present plenty of challenges. Buffalo is averaging 37.7 points per game.

[+] EnlargeBuffalo's Chan Gailey and Ryan Fitzpatrick
Kevin Hoffman/US PRESSWIRECoach Chan Gailey, left, hopes Ryan Fitzpatrick and the rest of the Bills can handle success.
No letdown: Bills head coach Chan Gailey offered a new challenge to his players. Gailey wants to see how his locker room handles praise and success after Buffalo's surprising start. The national media is all over Buffalo this week, and the players are enjoying the unusual spotlight. This is a young group not accustomed to success. "It's a double-edged sword. If you play great you get [attention], but you've got to learn how to handle it," Gailey said. "If you can't handle it, then it won't be around long because you'll not play the way you’re capable of playing. I’m talking to a lot to these guys about handling all this stuff and making sure they don't get away from what got us to where we are."

Must-win for Sparano: Last week's game against the Cleveland Browns was a must-win for Miami as a team. Now, it appears the Dolphins are headed for their third consecutive non-playoff year. But Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers (2-1) could be a must-win for Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano. Ownership will be watching closely to see if the Dolphins still play hard for Sparano, who is in the hot seat after a poor start. Miami has a bye after the Chargers game, which could be dangerous for Sparano. If the Dolphins fall to 0-4, that gives the front office plenty of time to reevaluate the coaching situation for the remainder of the season.

Bounce-back Brady: New England Patriots quarterback and reigning MVP Tom Brady had one of the worst games of his career in Week 3. He threw for a lot of yards but had four interceptions in a loss to the Buffalo Bills. For perspective, Brady threw only four interceptions all last season. Brady rarely has two bad games in a row. Also, the matchup against the Raiders sets up pretty well for New England's offense. Oakland has the NFL's No. 28th-ranked defense. The Raiders also are 28th against the pass.

Focus on preparation: If not for former Jets quarterback Joe Namath, no one would pay attention to New York's focus and preparation this week. Namath criticized Jets coach Rex Ryan for the way he prepares his team. Namath also hinted that the Jets are overconfident. Expect New York to give its best effort against the Ravens in a prime-time showdown. The teams share mutual respect and have similar styles. This is a big game for New York, which travels to New England for another huge game in Week 5.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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AFC EAST SCOREBOARD