Final Word: AFC East

October, 9, 2009
10/09/09
4:00
PM ET
AFC: East | West | North | South NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


Five nuggets of knowledge about Sunday’s games:

Braylon Edwards can keep dropping passes and still help the New York Jets win. Folks in Cleveland are guffawing that the Jets actually believe they got a great deal in Edwards. Browns fans have witnessed his act for too long. They were fed up with the drops and erratic performances.
Al Pereira/Getty Images
The New York Jets don't need Braylon Edwards to carry their offense.

What they fail to understand is Edwards meant far more to the Browns' offense than he will in New York. On the Jets, he's a piece of the puzzle to a team that has one of the NFL's best offensive lines, two Pro Bowlers in their backfield, a dangerous tight end and a quarterback who has been pretty good. An Edwards drop might stall a drive or force the Jets to settle for a field goal, but the way he'll make defenses respect him as a downfield threat will benefit everybody around him on every down.

The loser of Sunday's game in Ralph Wilson Stadium should rank among the bottom three in ESPN.com's next power rankings. I have no clue how the Buffalo Bills, after spending every previous edition of the poll at No. 21, slipped only two spots after getting waylaid by the Miami Dolphins, who were ranked three spots below them.

Whoever loses between the Bills and No. 29 Cleveland Browns might be the NFL's worst team. The Bills defeated the No. 31 Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2, but the Bills have gotten considerably tattered since then.

I agree with Joey Porter: The Dolphins aren't out of it -- yet. I was among those ready to write them off after Week 3. They hadn't won a game, lost their leader and starting quarterback (Chad Pennington), and their best defensive player (Porter) was sidelined with a bum hamstring.

But Porter reasserted the road to the AFC East title still travels through Miami. The Dolphins are the defending champs and they did win their first game last week, making them 1-0 in the division. If they can beat the Jets at home on Monday night, they would bunch up the standings and be one measly game out of first place if the New England Patriots don't beat the Denver Broncos.

But this doesn't mean I believe the Dolphins are on solid ground. Their season is hanging by a thread.

The Patriots won't miss Fred Taylor terribly much. Taylor underwent right ankle surgery on Thursday. Reports differ on whether he'll be able to return this year. Perhaps he'll be back for the postseason, but if the Patriots make the playoffs without him, then they will have coped just fine.

The Patriots masterfully managed their interchangeable backfield parts to 11 wins last year. Injuries forced them to activate BenJarvus Green-Ellis from their practice squad, and he eventually had a 100-yard game. They have been rotating Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk. The Patriots were prepared for an injury at running back.

Good luck against the Jets, Chad Henne. The second-year Dolphins quarterback will need to withstand a whirlwind Monday night. The last time the Dolphins faced a Rex Ryan defense, the Baltimore Ravens tamed the Wildcat and made the day hellacious for Pennington, considered one of the smartest and most composed quarterbacks in recent years.

Henne will be making his second NFL start. He wouldn't be overly comfortable against practically any defense he might see on Sunday afternoon, but you can safely assume that whatever the Jets unleash will make his head spin. The Jets also get playmaking outside linebacker Calvin Pace back from his four-game suspension this week.

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