- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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The AFC East went 2-2 in Week 12.
Here are seven notes and observations on the division:
The Buffalo Bills were knocked out of playoff contention with a 20-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. The Bills are 4-7 and it’s time to start thinking about the future. The biggest question is if Buffalo wants to go forward next year with coach Chan Gailey. He is 14-29 in three seasons in Buffalo, and that is not good enough. This is probably the most talent Gailey's had with the Bills and he's still headed for his third consecutive losing season. Gailey may have to win a majority of these five remaining games to keep his job.
Sunday's comments by Bills receiver Steve Johnson brought up an interesting point. Johnson said Buffalo’s offense feels too controlled by the coaches and that quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick should have the freedom to call more plays. Fitzpatrick had some freedom in the past. Based on Johnson’s comments, that has been revoked. It appears the coaching staff has lost some degree of faith in Fitzpatrick. He can be erratic and turnover prone at times, and that’s never good when jobs and seasons are on the line.
The Miami Dolphins beat the Seattle Seahawks because they got back to running the football and stopping the run. This was the early secret to Miami’s success, but the Dolphins lost their way during a three-game losing streak. Miami rushed for 189 yards and help Seahawks tailback Marshawn Lynch to 46 yards on 19 carries. Running and controlling the clock against New England’s defense might be the only way for a Dolphins’ upset next week. The Patriots have the NFL’s highest-scoring offense and the Dolphins need to keep it off the field.
The New England Patriots have a nice find in rookie seventh-round pick Alfonzo Dennard. He was not expected to make the team out of training camp but make an impressive and gradually earned playing time. Dennard is sticking to receivers. That is key because Dennard and new addition Aqib Talib allows New England to play more man coverage than in the past. This will allow the Patriots to mix up their coverages more during the stretch run and the playoffs.
The Patriots have forced nine turnovers on defense and special teams the past two games. That has led to back-to-back blowout over the New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts. The Patriots allow yards but are also willing to take chances and be aggressive.
According to the New York Jets, backup quarterback Tim Tebow first experienced rib discomfort after their loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 10. It is possible Tebow may have played against the St. Louis Rams in Week 11 with broken ribs, although it wasn’t discovered by the Jets until Week 12.
New York’s playoff chances are done, but it doesn’t mean they can’t finish with some wins this season. New York’s remaining schedule isn’t that difficult. None of its five remaining opponents have winning records. This is good news for Jets coach Rex Ryan, who needs to show owner Woody Johnson that he can get the ship going in the right direction again.