AFC East Stock Watch

September, 11, 2012
9/11/12
9:00
AM ET
Here is a look at whose stock is falling and rising after Week 1 in the AFC East:

Falling

[+] EnlargeRyan Fitzpatrick
AP Photo/Bill KostrounSunday's season opener was a painful one for Buffalo and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.
1. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills quarterback: It has to be frustrating if you’re a Bills fan. You simply do not know what to expect from Fitzpatrick on a given week. Each week feels like a roll of the dice with Fitzpatrick. He can have a three- or four-touchdown game or three or four ugly interceptions. Fitzpatrick showed both sides in Sunday’s 48-28 loss to the New York Jets. His three picks put Buffalo in an early 34-7 hole the Bills had no shot of climbing out of. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the streaky Fitzpatrick has a good game next week against the Kansas City Chiefs. That’s just who he is. Until Fitzpatrick is more consistent.

2. Bills' defense: Plenty of credit goes to Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. But the Bills’ defense did a good job of making Sanchez look like Joe Montana in Week 1. The pass rush (Mario Williams?) was surprisingly non-existent and the secondary could not cover New York’s receivers. Young corners Aaron Williams and rookie Stephon Gilmore struggled. The run defense was solid, particularly against the Wildcat. But this group has to do a better job of making impact plays and not allowing so many touchdowns.

3. Dolphins' third-down offense: It’s too easy to pick on Miami’s offense. This is a group with a rookie quarterback that threw three interceptions (two tipped at the line) and receivers who can’t consistently make plays. But one part that stood out most is Miami’s inability to convert on third down in last weekend’s loss to the Houston Texans. The Dolphins were 2-of-10 on third downs. The constant, quick exits and subsequent turnovers wore on Miami’s defense, which played well for a half until things got out of hand. If the Dolphins’ offense can stay on the field longer, sustain drives and not turn over the ball, Miami may have a chance to win next week at home against the Oakland Raiders.

Rising

1. New York Jets: Despite being ridiculed and called a "circus" by the local and national media, the Jets maintained an unfazed confidence this offseason. They exploded in Week 1 with a 20-point victory over the Bills that silenced a lot of critics for at least a week. The Jets resembled the 2009 and 2010 teams as opposed to 2011. But the Buffalo Bills have been an easy matchup for them the past several years. New York beat the Bills for the sixth time in a row. The Jets will get a tougher test next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

2. C.J. Spiller, Bills tailback: If you’re a fantasy football owner, you may want to pick up Spiller ASAP. He was a beast in Week 1, rushing for 169 yards and a touchdown and will get more opportunities for at least the next month. Buffalo starter Fred Jackson suffered a knee injury and will be out for at least the next three or four games. But with the way Spiller ran against a tough Jets defense, he may keep the starting job all season, even when Jackson returns.

3. Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots tailback: It’s safe to safe Ridley has bounced back from last year’s fumble issues. Ridley went into the Patriots’ doghouse during New England’s playoff run and virtually disappeared. But the second-year tailback came back stronger and better this summer in training camp to win the starting job. Ridley led New England with 125 yards rushing and a touchdown in a win over the Tennessee Titans. He took the pressure off quarterback Tom Brady, which is always needed.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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