Print and Go Back ESPN.com: AFC East [Print without images]

Friday, October 23, 2009
Final Word: AFC East


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

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 7:
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
Mark Sanchez is coming off of a five-interception game against the Bills.
Mark Sanchez better outperform JaMarcus Russell. In 20 years, Sanchez can only hope he looks back on last Sunday's five-interception nightmare as the worst day of his NFL career. But in reality, the New York Jets rookie will have many more opportunities to turn in a worse performance.

This week, Sanchez will be on the same field as Russell, the embodiment of awful quarterbacking. Russell, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2007, already has been slapped with the "bust" label. If Russell outplays Sanchez, Jets fans will be calling for Kellen Clemens.

The key to victory for the Buffalo Bills is getting Jake Delhomme to throw. But can they? Delhomme and Sanchez are tied for the NFL lead in quarterback turnovers with 10 interceptions and two fumbles apiece. The Bills' defense proved it could catch when it snagged five interceptions -- and another on special teams -- against the Jets.

The problem, though, is that Delhomme might not throw often enough. The Carolina Panthers can run, and the Bills own a run defense that's projecting among one of the worst in league history. The Bills are allowing an average of 181 rushing yards a game. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart have the Panthers ranked eighth in rushing offense.

The New England Patriots have recorded consecutive shutouts only once in franchise history. Not to jinx the Patriots' defense, but they would match a club record Sunday by blanking the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Wembley Stadium. The only other time the Patriots have recorded back-to-back shutouts was in December 1982 against the Miami Dolphins and Seattle Seahawks.

The Patriots are facing their second straight winless opponent. They shelled the Tennessee Titans 59-0 last week in Gillette Stadium. Next up is a team that averages 14.8 points per game, 27th in the league. The New York Giants shut out the Buccaneers at home in Week 3.

The Dolphins need to hit the turf running out of their bye week. There won't be any time to wade back into the season. They get to play the undefeated New Orleans Saints.

The Dolphins had built up some nice momentum. After an alarming 0-3 start, the Dolphins climbed back to divisional relevance with confidence-restoring victories over the Bills and Jets.

Just as the Dolphins were getting rewarded for their efforts, the NFL forced them to take a Sunday off. The extra week of first-team reps no doubt will help quarterback Chad Henne get comfortable in the starter's role. But the Dolphins must avoid a slow start against the Saints and pick up where they left off.

Kris Jenkins' absence will force systemic changes to the Jets' defense. The behemoth nose tackle was so big he has his own gravitational pull. With Jenkins out of the lineup, the Jets' constellation will shift around, probably gravitating more to a 4-3 than the 3-4 scheme he anchored.

Jenkins is irreplaceable, and with nose tackle the keystone of a 3-4 defense, the wise move will be to change the front. Outside linebacker Bryan Thomas is a former defensive end.