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Friday, November 7, 2008
Audibles: AFC East Week 10 preview


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Buffalo Bills (5-3) at New England Patriots (5-3), 1 p.m. ET
As if this game weren't significant enough on its own merit, consider the likelihood it will produce the AFC East's only losing team in Week 10. Take a gander at the other two matchups. The division should go 3-1.

Trends are favorable for the Patriots. They've never lost to the Bills in Gillette Stadium and have won nine straight in the series and 14 of their past 15 meetings. The Patriots beat the Bills last year by a combined score of 94-17.

The Bills are struggling on offense and hurting on defense. They'll play without safety and captain Donte Whitner and Pro Bowl defensive end Aaron Schobel.

Through their first four games they averaged 27.3 points for and 13.8 against. Over their next four they've scored 18.3 points and allowed 26.5 points.

Buffalo quarterback Trent Edwards has struggled against 3-4 defenses, which the Patriots use. He has thrown three interceptions, lost two fumbles and been sacked three times over his past five quarters against the Jets and Dolphins (both 3-4 teams).

Buffalo's run offense ranks 26th. Marshawn Lynch hasn't rushed for more than 83 yards and is coming off a 16-yard performance.

New England somehow has maintained effectiveness on a week-to-week basis despite injuries that would appear catastrophic. Quarterback Matt Cassel continues to mature and give the Patriots increased confidence.

The Patriots have allowed an average of 13.7 points over their past three games.

St. Louis Rams (2-6) at New York Jets (5-3), 1 p.m. ET
After last Sunday's victory over the Bills, in which quarterback Brett Favre left his six-shooters in the locker room, the Jets claimed they merely were taking what the defense was giving them.

In that case, we should find out exactly who the Jets prefer to be on offense Sunday in the Meadowlands. They're playing a defense against which they should be able to do whatever they want.

The Rams rank 30th in total defense, 29th against the run and 28th against the pass.

The Jets last week seemed to be gravitating toward a running offense behind Thomas Jones and Leon Washington. Players told me in the locker room that is the identity they want even though they have the most prolific passer in NFL history.

The Rams can go ahead and accept the fact they won't be able to run on the Jets.

The Rams are averaging only 94.1 yards a game on the ground, and Steven Jackson is not completely healthy. But that's what the Rams do best, believe it or not. They rank 27th in passing offense at 168.9 yards a game.

Seattle Seahawks (2-6) at Miami Dolphins (4-4), 1 p.m. ET
The Dolphins are one game out of first place and have an amazingly kind schedule ahead. They will play their next three games at home, starting with Sunday's cross-country visit from the moribund Seahawks.

The Dolphins have won two in a row, but the last time they did that, they dropped their next two games against teams (Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens) they should've fared better against.

Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said Thursday his ripening club can't afford to experience another letdown.

"Based on the fact that we've already been down this road before, this ain't our first rodeo," Sparano said. "We've kind of done this already. We lost two games. We won two games.

"At the end of the day, I hope that we're not going to learn the same way. We're not going to have to go through the same problems. I don't know what's going to happen out there on Sunday, but I think we'll go into it understanding that this is an important game."