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Final Word: AFC East

10/29/2010

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 8:

Tom Brady should emerge Sunday night with his streak still intact. There are contradictory reports about whether Brett Favre or Tarvaris Jackson will be Minnesota's starting quarterback. But it's safe to say Favre's incredible streak of 291 games (315 counting the postseason) has never been in more jeopardy. Brady is working on his own streak. He has won 23 straight home games. A victory over the Vikings in Gillette Stadium would put him one away from Favre's NFL record set from 1995 to 1998.

It's time for the Dolphins to give Sean Smith another shot at right cornerback. Smith started 16 games as a rookie last year. But after a shaky camp and preseason, he lost his job to veteran reserve Jason Allen before the regular season began. Smith obviously lost his swagger. Allen occasionally makes a big play and has three interceptions, but he's clearly a target. Steelers receiver Mike Wallace singed Allen for a 53-yard touchdown last week. The Bengals are a tough opponent to help Smith back on track, but as a player who thrives on confidence, a solid performance Sunday could get him going again.

I'm officially rooting for Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to stay hot. The Bills are 0-6 and don't have much to look forward to. Their national relevance is rooted in being winless, but Fitzpatrick's play has given Bills fans something positive to talk about. He's a career backup, an underdog who was overlooked by the Bills before taking over for Trent Edwards in Week 3. Fitzpatrick's 102.2 passer rating ranks second to Peyton Manning's 103.4. Fitzpatrick has played only four games, but he has 11 touchdown passes, the same as Brady and Tony Romo. Only six quarterbacks have more.

Jets rookie cornerback Kyle Wilson is playing his way off the field. At the news conference to discuss why they selected him 29th overall, Jets coach Rex Ryan declared Wilson would be their punt returner and nickel corner. As star cornerback Darrelle Revis' holdout dragged on, Wilson was in line to start and eventually did (three games) after Revis yanked his hamstring. But Wilson, who has committed three penalties for 54 yards, has been losing time to Dwight Lowery and Drew Coleman. "His role is shrinking," Ryan said of Wilson. "There is only one way to get a bigger role, and that's to show it on the practice field. When you do get your opportunities in the game, you have to step up. That's it."

The Patriots must stop Adrian Peterson if they're going to stop Randy Moss. It won't matter who Minnesota's quarterback is in this regard. Jackson has the ability to hang a ball in the air for Moss, too. The way to negate that possibility is keeping both Patriots safeties deep. That can't happen if the Patriots' front seven can’t contain Peterson, who has that rare combination of speed, strength and a knack for evading tackles.