Friday, December 16, 2011
Final Word: AFC East
By James Walker
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 15:
Tom Moore has had a big hand in the Jets' offensive improvements over the past three games.
Jets' offense turning the corner: One of the biggest reasons the New York Jets are on a three-game winning streak is because the offense is playing its best football of the season. New York has averaged 33 points a game over the past three weeks. The running game has been strong and quarterback Mark Sanchez is making fewer mistakes in the passing game. Offensive consultant Tom Moore is getting a lot of credit in New York. He has been more hands-on with Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenhiemer, and the results are showing. The Jets were 5-for-5 in the red zone last week against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Clinching the AFC East: Although the division was sealed weeks ago, the New England Patriots can officially clinch the AFC East two ways Sunday. New England (10-3) can simply beat the Denver Broncos (8-5) to secure the division and a home playoff game. Also, the Patriots can clinch with a loss and a Jets (8-5) loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. New England also is chasing home-field advantage in the AFC. The Patriots are in a four-way battle with the Baltimore Ravens (10-3), Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3) and Houston Texans (10-3) and need to continue winning.
Three-game season: The Todd Bowles era begins with the Miami Dolphins traveling to face the Buffalo Bills. Bowles, Miami's defensive backs coach, is taking over on an interim basis for former head coach Tony Sparano. Bowles needs to keep Miami's momentum going. The Dolphins are playing much better football in the second half of the season. Miami is 4-2 in its past six games and averaging nearly 10 points per game more (24.8 to 15.3) than in its first seven, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Dolphins’ defense also has allowed 10 fewer points per game (13.3 to 23.7) in that span.
Bush for 1,000: Dolphins tailback Reggie Bush set a new career high with 770 rushing yards. He is 230 yards short of his first 1,000-yard season. Bush has three 100-yard games this season and needs to average 76.7 rushing yards in his final three to reach the milestone, which is possible. "If I do rush over 1,000 yards that means we did it as an offense," Bush said this week. "It's not just about me. It’s about all 11 guys out there who helped make that happen so that’s pretty much it."
Turnover effect: The Bills’ defense is struggling to force turnovers. Buffalo has forced only five turnovers during a six-game losing streak. Before that, the Bills’ defense thrived on creating turnovers. Buffalo led the NFL with 18 takeaways after Week 8. That helped the Bills get off to a fast start. Since then, Buffalo has struggled through injuries and needs to do a lot more in the offseason to add playmakers and depth.