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Friday, December 4, 2009
Final Word: AFC East


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Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 13 .

Chad Henne
The Patriots defense is looking to bounce back against Chad Henne and the Dolphins.
The New England Patriots' defense was publicly humiliated on Monday, and they need to respond Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. Thankfully, Chad Henne is not Drew Brees. Greg Camarillo is not Marques Colston. And Lex Hilliard is not Mike Bell. The Patriots were able to handle the Dolphins' offense in Week 9, and that was before star running back Ronnie Brown suffered a season-ending foot injury. But since Monday night's dismantling in the Superdome, the Patriots can't assume anything. They need a strong bounce-back performance to pull together.

New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis has turned his play up another level. He could have had three interceptions Thursday night against the Buffalo Bills. On the NFL Network, analyst Deion Sanders said he wasn't sure who the best cornerback in the league was, Revis or Charles Woodson. Maybe it's because I don't see Woodson on a weekly basis, but it has been a while since I've watched a cornerback a) superimpose himself on receivers like Revis does, and b) break on a ball like Revis does. As Matt Millen told Sanders "He's doing some things that I haven't seen done in this league since you were playing."

If the Dolphins don't win Sunday, they can pretty much count on a losing record for 2009. After starting the season 0-3, they had a glorious opportunity to get above .500 last week against the Bills, but lost. This could be the closest the Dolphins get to break even the rest of the way. A Patriots victory would drop the Dolphins two games below with four to play against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Toronto doesn't seem to care much about the Bills playing in their town. Maybe it was because I'd been in New Orleans three days earlier and experienced one of the best atmospheres I've ever been a part of, but Thursday night's Bills game in the Rogers Centre was only slightly less dull than last year's lukewarm reception. The only time I felt the Rogers Centre had any life was when the music was blaring. The crowd didn't carry the emotion, and I had a hard time telling who they were rooting for. Big Jets plays were cheered more than booed, but big Bills plays were cheered a little more loudly than Jets plays. I think.

Marshawn Lynch finally looked like himself Thursday night. Lynch used to be the AFC East's best running back, but his suspension for the first three games of the year and lackluster performances couldn't permit anyone to call him the best back on his team. That has been Fred Jackson. But Lynch finally showed signs of life. On the Bills' only touchdown drive against the Jets, he made his two longest runs of the season, a 35-yard dash followed by a 15-yard stomp into the end zone.