AFC East: Joe Haden

AFC East Week 3 X factors

September, 22, 2011
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The AFC East is off to a fast start. It has the NFL's best division record (6-2) after two weeks.

That also sets up some big matchups in Week 3. The Buffalo Bills (2-0) will host the New England Patriots (2-0) in a battle of undefeated teams. The New York Jets (2-0) will travel to play the Oakland Raiders (1-1), and the Miami Dolphins (0-2) will face the Cleveland Browns (1-1).

Here are some underrated, X factors who could make a big impact in Week 3:

Ochocinco
Patriots

X factor: WR Chad Ochocinco

Analysis: Now is the perfect time for Ochocinco to get more involved in New England's offense. Tight end Aaron Hernandez will miss Sunday's game against Buffalo with a knee injury. New England ran a lot of dual tight ends with Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, which limited Ochocinco's reps. This week New England probably will have more three-receiver sets to get Ochocinco involved. He has just three catches for 59 yards in two games.

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Barnett
Bills

X factor: MLB Nick Barnett

Analysis: If the Bills want to pull the upset, someone has to make a big play on defense against the Patriots. The most consistent defender through two weeks has been Barnett. He registered 18 tackles and a forced fumble in two games. Chances are, the Bills-Patriots game will be a shootout. But the winner could be determined by which defense and/or defensive player makes a huge play to stop momentum.

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Bess
Dolphins

X factor: WRs Davone Bess

Analysis: Look for Browns No. 1 corner Joe Haden to be matched up with Dolphins No. 1 receiver Brandon Marshall this week. But Cleveland's defense has a major drop-off after Haden at corner. This could open things up for Bess. Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne targets Marshall a lot. But he may find more success attacking Cleveland's second (Sheldon Brown) and third corners (Dimitri Patterson). Bess is quick in the slot and knows what to do with the football. He leads the Dolphins with 19.1 yards per reception.

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Wilkerson
Jets

X factor: DE Muhammad Wilkerson

Analysis: Wilkerson has been a force for the Jets since his arrival. The rookie earned a starting job in Week 1 on New York’s stout defense, which is impressive. Wilkerson recorded two tackles and a sack that resulted in a safety against Jacksonville. He's held his ground against the run in New York's 3-4 defense. That's key against the Raiders, who have the NFL's second-leading rusher in tailback Darren McFadden.

WR Marshall keeping tabs on Joe Haden

September, 21, 2011
9/21/11
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DAVIE, Fla. -- In Brandon Marshall's mind, Sunday's high-profile matchup with Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden has been months in the making.

The Dolphins' receiver and two-time Pro Bowler said Wednesday that he's been keeping an eye on Haden -- a rising star at cornerback -- through social media during the offseason. Marshall expects a tough matchup with Haden on Sunday.

"A young guy like that, he's very talented," Marshall said of Haden. "He's hungry. He puts a lot into it. I followed him on Twitter just to keep up with him and see what he's doing. When I got on Twitter in February, he was one of the first guys I followed, just to check him out and for this weekend here.

"I have my work cut out for me. He's pretty good."

This is a revenge game for Miami (0-2). The Browns (1-1) beat the Dolphins, 13-10, last year at Sun Life Stadium. The difference this year is the game is played in Cleveland. Marshall and the Dolphins are 6-2 in their last eight road games.

"I'm glad it's not cold up there. That's what I hate," Marshall said of traveling to Cleveland. "But the Dawgpound, that excites me. So I hope they're loud and rowdy like they usually are."

Let's redo the first round of 2010 draft

December, 8, 2010
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Drafting is a difficult job.

But that shouldn't deter us from second-guessing whether teams succeeded or screwed up eight months ago.

Three-quarters into the season, Dallas Morning News writer Rick Gosselin analyzed the 2010 rookie class by their production and slotted them back into the draft order to see who teams should have taken in April.

The list suggests three AFC East clubs have generated much less than the designated value from their first-round prospects, but no team has gotten more production from its picks than the New England Patriots have.

In the adjusted draft, the Patriots' actual first round pick, cornerback Devin McCourty, shoots up 23 spots to the Washington Redskins at fourth overall. Tight end Aaron Hernandez was a fourth-round pick, but with hindsight he projects to the Atlanta Falcons at 19th overall. Tight end Rob Gronkowski moves from 42nd overall to the Detroit Lions with the 30th pick

No other AFC East team's actual first-round pick -- Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller, Miami Dolphins defensive end Jared Odrick or New York Jets cornerback Kyle Wilson -- appeared in Gosselin's reorganized order.

The adjusted order has cornerback Joe Haden to the Bills at No. 9, receiver Jacoby Ford to the Patriots at No. 27, running back Jahvid Best to the Dolphins at No. 28 and cornerback Alterraun Verner to the Jets at No. 29.

AFC East Week 10 decisive moment

November, 16, 2010
11/16/10
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NFC Decisive Moments: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

You can argue the decisive moment happened with 1:35 left in sudden death, when Cleveland Browns safety Joe Haden declined to bat down Mark Sanchez's long third-down prayer and instead chose to intercept on the 3-yard line.

You certainly can argue the decisive moment happened with 16 seconds left in overtime, when Santonio Holmes took a quick slant 37 yards into the end zone to give the New York Jets a 26-20 victory.

I prefer to argue the decisive moment came in between.

The Jets might have pinned the Browns deep in their own territory anyway with a Steve Weatherford punt. And the Jets might have won the game anyway with a Nick Folk field goal (OK, maybe a stretch based on his three earlier misses, but play along with me here).

Browns coach Eric Mangini opened the door for the Jets to win because of the way he managed the end of the game. With 95 seconds and three timeouts, Mangini essentially sealed his fate by going for the win and not settling for the tie.

Browns fans couldn't be upset with his aggressiveness, but the decision turned a draw into a Jets victory.

Browns quarterback Colt McCoy threw an incomplete pass to tight end Benjamin Watson, taking only five seconds off the clock. Then the Browns chose to hand off to Peyton Hillis, who gained 2 yards and then paused before calling a timeout. On third down, Jason Taylor and Shaun Ellis teamed up to sack McCoy at the 2-yard line.

The Jets called their last timeout with 35 ticks remaining and forced Reggie Hodges to punt from the back of his end zone.

Cleveland failed to gain yardage or run out the clock.

The Jets, however, wound up with just enough time and space to notch another win.

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