- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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Let’s take a look at which players are rising and falling in the AFC East.
1. Mark Sanchez, New York Jets quarterback: It’s starting to look like a lost cause for Sanchez. The arrow continues to point down as Sanchez’s bad performances are adding up. It’s not all Sanchez’s fault. But he’s certainly part of the problem, not the solution. This past Sunday, Sanchez had his fifth game of completing fewer than 50 percent of his passes. He was 9-of-22 in a 28-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. But Jets head coach Rex Ryan is sticking with his quarterback. It’s not Tim Tebow’s time yet.
2. Miami’s run defense: This is the first time Miami’s front seven has been in this category. The Dolphins have been stout against the run all season but struggled mightily against the lowly Tennessee Titans. Tennessee tailback Chris Johnson rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown. Miami’s defense has another stern test Thursday against Buffalo tailback C.J. Spiller. Johnson and Spiller have a lot of similarities as runners.
3. Patriots secondary: This stock was already low but it continues to fall. New England has an uncanny way of making pedestrian quarterbacks (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Sanchez) look great. Fitzpatrick lit up New England for 337 yards. Maybe new Patriots corner Aqib Talib can change things. But it may be asking a lot of Talib to completely change this group after being suspended for the past four games.
1.Patriots’ third-down offense: Want to know why New England has the NFL’s highest-scoring offense? The Patriots usually convert on third down. New England is 14-of-22 (64 percent) on third down in the past two games. The Patriots scored 82 points in those games, because most of their drives result in touchdowns and field goals, not punts.
2. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills quarterback: “Good Fitz” was back against the Patriots. Fitzpatrick is one of the streakiest quarterbacks in the NFL but stayed hot this past Sunday. He threw for 337 yards and two touchdowns. But Fitzpatrick had two costly errors that hurt Buffalo. His fumble resulted in a Patriots touchdown and an interception on the final drive sealed the game. Bills rookie receiver T.J. Graham accepted blame for the pick by running the wrong route. But Fitzpatrick made the decision to pull the trigger.
3. Muhammad Wilkerson, Jets defensive end: Wilkerson isn’t having a dominant sophomore season. But he did have a big game for the Jets in a loss to Seattle. Wilkerson recorded seven tackles and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. He was one of the few bright spots for the Jets.