- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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Let's see who's stock is rising and falling in the AFC East.
1. New York Jets secondary: The stock of New York’s defensive backs took a huge blow with the season-ending injury to Darrelle Revis. This changes the way New York has to play defense, particularly on the back end. The Jets will play less man-to-man defense and a lot more zone. Revis also patched up the fact that New York’s safeties aren’t good in coverage. Opponents will test the Jets’ secondary, starting with Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.
2. Devin McCourty, Patriots cornerback: McCourty looked much like he did last season in a 31-30 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore receiver Torrey Smith lit up the Patriots for six catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns, and most of the big players were against McCourty. He also had a big pass-interference penalty for 27 yards to set up the Ravens’ game-winning field goal in the fourth quarter. This is McCourty's third year and injuries are no longer an excuse. He needs to have a good year, or it’s time to doubt if McCourty will ever get back to the Pro Bowl form his rookie year.
3. Tim Tebow, Jets quarterback: Remember the super-secret Tebow packages the Jets were keeping under wraps this summer? Those packages have done nothing in the regular season. Tebow’s Wildcat rushes aren’t doing much, and having Tebow run receiving routes is comical. A pass bounced off Tebow’s helmet against the Dolphins. If the Jets don’t know how to use Tebow, they shouldn’t force it. It’s OK for Tebow to just be a No. 2 quarterback. Why disrupt the offense trying to force Tebow in?
1. Wes Welker, Patriots receiver: It’s been a tough start to the season for Welker. But he deserves a lot of credit for hanging in. After getting his reps taken away in favor of backup Julian Edelman, Welker stayed ready for his opportunity and played big in a loss to Baltimore. Welker caught a season-high eight passes for 142 yards. Expect Welker to be a bigger part of the offense now that tight end Aaron Hernandez (ankle) is on the shelf.
2. Bills defensive line: For the first time this season, Buffalo’s much publicized defensive line completely dominated an opponent. Defensive ends Mario Williams and Mark Anderson and tackles Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus clogged the running lanes and pressured the quarterback. Buffalo will be hard to beat if the defensive line plays this way every week. Buffalo allowed just 33 rushing yards to Cleveland and sacked Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden four times.
3. Santonio Holmes, Jets receiver: Holmes returned back to the lowest point of his career and had a triumphant return to Miami. Holmes had nine catches for 147 yards in New York’s overtime win. His 38-yard catch set up New York’s game-winning field goal. Holmes was benched in Miami last year for arguing with teammates, but showed resilience to lead the Jets over the Dolphins in their next meeting. The Jets will need more big games from Holmes the rest of the season.