Audibles: AFC East Week 7 preview

October, 17, 2008
10/17/08
4:00
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

San Diego Chargers (3-3) at Buffalo Bills (4-1), 1 p.m. EST

Bills fans have been waiting for this game a long, long time.

The Bills, coming off their first loss of the season and a bye week, haven't played since Oct. 5 and haven't won since Sept. 28. They haven't played in Ralph Wilson Stadium in almost a month.

Sunday also presents the first significant measuring stick for just how good the Bills are. They have played several wounded opponents, and while the Chargers have had their problems, they've begun to perform more like the AFC contenders everyone expected.

The Bills are trying to prove that 41-17 punch in the gut at Arizona was a fluke and had two weeks to prepare. Quarterback Trent Edwards is back after suffering a concussion on the third snap of that game.

Regardless of the outcome, Sunday will be a statement game for the Bills.

Baltimore Ravens (2-3) at Miami Dolphins (2-3), 1 p.m. EST

If you're a fan of X's and O's matchups, your game of the week might take place in Dolphin Stadium.

The NFL's most creative offense will square off against the most unforgiving defense, and the Dolphins' previous head coach, Cam Cameron, is returning for the first time as the Ravens' offensive coordinator.

Comments made this week have given Sunday's game added intrigue. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, merely trying to support his assistant, reasoned Cameron didn't have much to work with in guiding the Dolphins to a 1-15 record last year.

Holdovers in the Dolphins' locker room are eager to prove a point on both sides of the ball.

A victory over the Ravens also would keep the Dolphins in the AFC East race heading into Week 8, something few expected. The Dolphins are two plays away from being 4-1, going down to the wire in their season opener against the New York Jets and last Sunday versus the Houston Texans.

New York Jets (3-2) at Oakland Raiders (1-4), 4:15 p.m. EST

The Jets are in position to make a push in the AFC East standings if they take care of business this week and next, setting up a potential battle for first place against the Bills on Nov. 2.

Brett Favre will return to the site of one of his most memorable games, where he threw for 399 yards and four touchdowns to rout the Raiders a day after his father passed away in December 2003.

Favre's development is coming along, and the Jets are in a segment of their schedule that takes pressure off of him to win games by himself. They kept the Cincinnati Bengals winless last week, and their next two opponents have one victory apiece. The Jets' offensive line and surging run game should continue to handle the heavy lifting for a while.

The Jets' defense, meanwhile, has been a brick wall up front. JaMarcus Russell and Damon Huard will have to beat them. That means the Jets have a good shot at being 5-2.

Denver Broncos (4-2) at New England Patriots (3-2), 8:30 p.m. EST

The Patriots are coming off their second loss of 20 points or more, something they've never had to do over the course of a full season under Bill Belichick.

They were bombed back to Foxborough, Mass., by the Chargers, who dropped long balls on cornerbacks Deltha O'Neal and Ellis Hobbs. In the Patriots' other ugly loss, Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington owned the middle of the field.

That must excite Jay Cutler, who already has 1,694 passing yards, and Brandon Marshall, who leads the NFL's most dangerous receiving corps when healthy.

Denver, though, has trouble shutting down opposing offenses. Whether New England can exploit that weakness is another story.

One year after re-writing the NFL record books with Tom Brady, the Patriots have scored the fewest points in the AFC East. They are the one of only five teams to not have a 100-yard runner this year. Sammy Morris has 169 rushing yards, the lowest total of any team-leading running back.

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