Three AFC East teams will be in action in Week 8. The New York Jets, who are on a two-game winning streak, will get some rest during their bye.
Here are three X factors to watch this weekend:
New England Patriots (5-1)
X factor: TE Aaron Hernandez
Analysis: Hernandez is quickly becoming one of quarterback Tom Brady's favorite targets. He averages nearly seven receptions per contest and has a touchdown in three of his four games. Hernandez and fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski could have some mismatches in the middle of the field against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Patriots' tight ends are more athletic than Pittsburgh's linebackers and have the size advantage over the Steelers' backup cornerbacks.
Buffalo Bills (4-2)
X factor: OL Andy Levitre
Analysis: Levitre, who is Buffalo's best guard, is expected to start at left tackle Sunday against the Washington Redskins. The Bills have been ailing at the position all season and hope to take advantage of Levitre's versatility. He will be Buffalo's third starter at left tackle in seven games. Levitre won't have an easy assignment. He will see a lot of Washington outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, who has 4.5 sacks this season.
Miami Dolphins (0-6)
X factor: LB Cameron Wake
Analysis: On paper, there are not many ways the winless Dolphins can beat the New York Giants (4-2), who are coming off their bye. But New York is beatable in games when quarterback Eli Manning suffers a meltdown. The best way to do that is to pressure Manning. Miami is coming off a season-high six sacks against Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. Wake had two of the Dolphins' sacks last week. If Wake can be disruptive to Manning, maybe Miami has a shot at an upset.