Friday, November 19, 2010
Final Word: AFC East
By Tim Graham
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 11:
BenJarvus Green-Ellis has an enviable matchup against the Colts' 29th-ranked rush defense.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis can steal the spotlight Sunday in Gillette Stadium. With so much focus on the quarterbacks in Sunday's blockbuster between the Colts and Patriots, the player who could make biggest impact is Green-Ellis. The Colts rank 29th in run defense, allowing 133.2 yards a game and are tied for last in average per carry at a robust 5.0 yards. The Colts also play a conservative 4-3 defense. While they collect sacks, they blitz less than any other NFL team. Green-Ellis must come off the field at times because he's a liability at picking up the blitz, giving Danny Woodhead more snaps. That shouldn't be as much of an issue this week. The last time Green-Ellis faced a 4-3 defense, he ran 17 times for 112 yards and two touchdowns against the Vikings -- and the Patriots didn't have Pro Bowl left guard Logan Mankins then.
The Dolphins should put Chad Henne on injured reserve. Let's face it: The Dolphins are long shots to make the playoffs. They're 5-5, in third place in the AFC East, are at a serious disadvantage with wild-card tiebreakers and keep sustaining injuries, especially on the offensive line. The only reason to get Henne back on the field is if they were to have a legitimate chance to make a run and can be sure he can stay upright. Tyler Thigpen, a quarterback known for his mobility, was sacked six times Thursday night by the Bears, who went into Week 11 ranked 30th in sacks per pass play. There's no sense in risking further damage to Henne's knee for such little reward.
Where has Jets tight end Dustin Keller gone? Keller was torrid out of the gates -- and looked an awful lot like Antonio Gates -- with 19 receptions for 254 yards and five touchdowns through the first four games. Since then, he has caught four passes once and has zero touchdowns. Keller's downturn coincides with the return of receiver Santonio Holmes' from a four-game suspension, but Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer should be able to get Keller more involved than he has been.
Cameron Wake is the NFL's best pass-rusher on passing downs. ESPN Stats & Information delivered a neat item about the Dolphins' outside linebacker. Wake has recorded an NFL-best 8.5 sacks with five or more defensive backs on the field (i.e., obvious passing downs). Clay Matthews has eight such sacks. Brian Orakpo is third with 7.5 sacks. What better time for a pass-rusher to come through than when the opponent needs to throw?