AFC East Week 15 X factors

December, 17, 2011
12/17/11
10:00
AM ET
Miami Dolphins (4-9)

Opponent: Bills

X factor: CB Vontae Davis

Analysis: Win or lose, the Bills throw the football a lot. Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is a streaky gunslinger. Right now he's on the downside. Fitzpatrick is coming off another poor outing last week with two interceptions against the San Diego Chargers. This will provide plenty of opportunities for Davis to make plays. He's been Miami's best corner in the second half of the season. With injuries at quarterback and the offensive line, Davis and Miami's defense may have to carry the team to win.

Buffalo Bills (5-8)

Opponent: Dolphins

X factor: RB C.J. Spiller

Analysis: Spiller's late-season audition for Buffalo's starting job has seen some ups and downs. He needs to finish strong and prove to Buffalo that he's part of the team's long-term plans. The Bills have gone away from the run the past two weeks in the second half. Last week San Diego gathered a huge lead and made the running game obsolete. Spiller will be tested this week against Miami's stout run defense. The Dolphins are third overall in stopping the run and haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher since Houston Texans running back Ben Tate in Week 2.

New York Jets (8-5)

Opponent: Philadelphia Eagles (5-8)

X factor: LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson

Analysis: The Eagles' pass rush is dangerous. Philadelphia registered a season-high nine sacks last week in a win over the Dolphins. New York's offensive line has been an enigma this season. It started the season slowly but has picked it up lately. As a result, the Jets are averaging 33 points per game during their three-game winning streak. Ferguson has to protect Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez's blind side. He could see a lot of Philadelphia defensive end Jason Babin on Sunday.

New England Patriots (10-3)

Opponent: Denver Broncos (8-5)

X factor: LB Dane Fletcher

Analysis: Someone has to keep an eye on Tim Tebow. That job could come down to Fletcher in the middle for New England. He recorded eight tackles last week in a win over the Washington Redskins. New England’s defense has been terrible this season. It is ranked last in the NFL. But the Patriots have defended the run pretty well. New England is ranked 13th against the run, and that will be tested against Denver and Tebow.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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AFC EAST SCOREBOARD

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