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Friday, September 23, 2011
Final Word: AFC East

By James Walker

NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 3:

Rex on the road: The New York Jets have been very comfortable on the road under coach Rex Ryan. According to ESPN's Stats & Info, Ryan is 6-0 on the road against non-divisional opponents. Sunday the Jets will travel across the country to face the Oakland Raiders. New York to Oakland is one of the longest road trips in the NFL. It spans approximately 2,900 miles.

Rex Ryan
Jets coach Rex Ryan is 6-0 on the road against non-divisional opponents.
Looking ahead: Despite a 2-0 start, the Jets' game against Oakland is bigger than you think. New York follows this week with brutal back-to-back road games against the Baltimore Ravens (Oct. 2) and New England Patriots (Oct. 9). Both will be tough to win away from home. If New York beats Oakland and gets off to a 3-0 start, it takes some pressure off the next two weeks. But a loss to the Raiders on Sunday could put New York in a tough spot.

Safety a concern: New England's safety position continues to be a concern. The combination of injuries, defections and lack of performance has made it one of New England's few areas of weakness. The latest is the recent thumb surgery for Patrick Chung, who hasn't practiced this week. He is out for Sunday's big game against the Buffalo Bills (2-0). The Patriots are ranked No. 31 against the pass after two games. New England is lacking depth at the position with Chung's injury and the recent release former Pro Bowler Brandon Meriweather.

Jackson factor: The Bills' player with the best chance of slowing down Patriots quarterback and MVP candidate Tom Brady doesn't play defense. Buffalo running back Fred Jackson, the NFL's leading rusher, could be a headache for New England's defense. Jackson is running with a purpose. He's averaging 114.5 rushing yards per game and 6.5 yards per carry. The more first downs Jackson gains on the ground, the more Brady stays off the field. Both teams are expected to score a lot of points.

Must-win for Miami: The Dolphins' road game against the Cleveland Browns is pivotal. Not only would a 0-3 start put the Dolphins in a huge hole, but a lot of people in Miami's organization would be on the hot seat. It starts with coach Tony Sparano. He has been a lightning rod in Miami this past week. Dolphins fans and sports talk shows in South Florida already are starting to discuss potential replacements. Quarterback Chad Henne, who has improved this year, has been a hot topic the past couple of years. The Dolphins can quiet the talk for at least a week with a road win against Cleveland. Miami was one of the NFL's top road teams last season, posting a 6-2 mark away from Sun Life Stadium.