Stock Watch: AFC East

October, 2, 2012
10/02/12
10:00
AM ET
Let's take a look at who is rising and falling in the AFC East:

Falling

1. Buffalo Bills defense: What...was...that? That is one way to sum up the performance of Buffalo's revamped defense in a 52-28 loss to the New England Patriots. The Bills allowed 35 straight points and seven consecutive scoring drives (six touchdowns, one field goal). Buffalo's defense looked helpless against Tom Brady and the Patriots. Perhaps the most disappointing thing is Buffalo's defense was expected to be the strength of the team. The Bills spent more than $100 million on defensive ends Mario Williams and Mark Anderson and a first-round pick on cornerback Stephon Gilmore. None of these acquisitions made an impact on Sunday.

2. New York Jets: Head coach Rex Ryan is quick to point out that the Jets remain in first place in the AFC East. Ryan is correct. The Jets (2-2) have the same record as the Patriots (2-2) and Bills (2-2), but New York is the only team with two division wins. Yet, the Jets do not play like a first-place team. New York's only dominant win was in Week 1 against Buffalo. After that, it's been decisive losses and an ugly, overtime win over the rebuilding Dolphins. Don't expect the Jets to be in first place for long.

3. AFC East kickers: What's gotten into Stephen Gostkowski and Dan Carpenter lately? These are two of the most consistent kickers in the AFC who have suddenly lost their way. Both kickers have combined for six missed field goals already this season. I watched Gostkowski shank a kick wide right on his first attempt and wide left on his second attempt against Buffalo. He looked totally confused. Carpenter continues to miss big kicks that could have put the Dolphins in the win column. He missed another attempt Sunday in an overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Are these short-term struggles or a trend of what to expect this season?

Rising

1. Brian Hartline, Dolphins receiver: Remember when Hartline was on the roster bubble in Miami? That seems like a while ago now that Hartline is tearing it up. He is the surprise league leader in receiving yards after his 253-yard performance against the Cardinals. Hartline wasn't even a starter in Week 1. Now, his stock is way up.

2. Brandon Bolden, Patriots running back: Bolden was another player on the roster bubble in training camp. He was an undrafted rookie trying to make the reigning AFC champs. It appeared to be a long shot, but Bolden impressed the coaching staff. He got his first big shot against Buffalo and led the team with 137 rushing yards and a touchdown. Bolden is proof that it doesn't matter where you come from. If you can play, a team will find you.

3. Cameron Wake, Dolphins defensive end: Miami's front seven is a headache to play against. The Cardinals found that out the hard way when they couldn't run the ball and Wake had 4.5 sacks of Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb. Wake at times can get his sacks in bunches. An honorable mention also goes to rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who threw for 431 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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