- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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Here are five nuggets of knowledge about Week 11:
Hot playoff contenders: Sunday’s matchup between the New England Patriots (6-3) and Indianapolis Colts (6-3) could be a playoff preview. If the season ended today, both teams would be in. The Patriots would be the AFC East champions with a home playoff game, and the Colts would be a road wild card. The Patriots and Colts are hitting their stride at the right time. Indianapolis is on a four-game winning streak, and New England has won three in a row. Something has to give at Gillette Stadium.
Gronk more involved: Patriots Pro Bowler Rob Gronkowski set the NFL record for touchdowns by a tight end last year. But he got off to a slow start this season. Gronkowski appears to be finally in rhythm and has five touchdowns in the past three games. He is Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's favorite option in the red zone and is looking to extend his touchdown streak to four games.
Are the Jets focused? Do the New York Jets realize they have a game Sunday? It’s difficult to tell considering how much the zany Jets have focused on backup quarterback Tim Tebow this week. There have been anonymous quotes, Tebow’s response of “sadness” and coach Rex Ryan’s ire. Tebow has dominated the headlines this week over New York’s opponent, the St. Louis Rams. The circus-like atmosphere makes you question how it affects New York’s focus and preparation.
Sanchez under pressure: Jets starting quarterback Mark Sanchez has a lot on his plate. But one of the most glaring issues is his struggles against the blitz. Sanchez has an NFL-worst 48.7 completion percentage against the blitz, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He has also thrown four interceptions and has been sacked 10 times. Teams are not afraid to bring extra rushers against Sanchez, considering the relatively weak supporting cast around him.
Moving forward: The Buffalo Bills (4-6) beat the Miami Dolphins (4-6) 19-14 Thursday night. Both teams are almost certainly relegated to spoiler roles the rest of the season and will try to make it tough on playoff contenders. It starts next week. Buffalo will have extra time to prepare for the Colts on Nov. 25. The Dolphins will play host to the Seattle Seahawks (6-4).