Here are seven notes and observations from Week 4 in the AFC East:
The most impressive thing about New England's offense in the win over the Oakland Raiders was its lengthy drives. Quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots recorded touchdown drives of 80, 64, 81 and 81 yards. New England is as good as anyone at moving the chains. I also like how the Patriots ran the ball more and kept things balanced. This helps keep their inconsistent defense off the field.
If I'm the Patriots, I try to work out a contract extension with receiver Wes Welker sooner than later. Welker is putting up monster numbers in the final year of his contract. He leads the NFL in receptions (40) and receiving yards (616). Only Detroit's Calvin Johnson (eight) has more touchdown catches than Welker (five). Welker's price tag will continue to rise if he keeps up this pace. The Patriots are not going to let their best receiver walk next offseason. So they may as well try to save a bit now by working out an extension before the end of the season.
I'm noticing opponents are showing less respect for the New York Jets' offense. The Jets aren't running the ball and teams are salivating to get to the quarterback. The past two weeks, the Raiders and Baltimore Ravens combined for six sacks and brought extra defenders regularly. Quarterback Mark Sanchez was able to beat the blitz several times for big plays against Oakland. But he didn't have any success against the blitz of the Ravens. New York's pass-to-run ratio is 79 to 44 during its two-game losing streak. Teams keep track of these stats and tendencies. This makes the Jets very predictable offensively.
New York's upcoming rivalry game against the Patriots can go one of two ways: Either the Jets respond and play well, or things could get ugly. The Patriots have a golden opportunity to stick it to the Jets while they're struggling. New England will have revenge on its mind after getting knocked out of the playoffs. The Patriots (4-1) also can create separation in the AFC East with the Jets (2-2). New York usually plays the Patriots tough. But it's unclear how the Jets will respond in this meeting considering how poorly they're playing.
Should the Miami Dolphins inquire about free-agent quarterback David Garrard? Starting quarterback Chad Henne injured his shoulder. It's unknown how long he will be out. But Henne couldn't return to Sunday's game, which means it’s possible he could miss time after the bye. Matt Moore isn’t the answer if Miami wants to win enough games to turn its season around. Garrard may provide a boost and much-needed leadership, but would his price tag be worth it, especially if Henne is only out a few weeks?
The Buffalo Bills are back to "mystery" status after their Week 4 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bills were thought of as a legitimate AFC contender after recently upsetting the Patriots. Now, it's hard to put this team in a category despite a 3-1 start. Buffalo will play the talented but struggling Philadelphia Eagles (1-3) and New York Giants (3-1) in back-to-back weeks. We will know a lot more about the Bills after these two games against NFC East foes.
A lot of Buffalo Bills fans are complaining about the fourth-down throw to receiver Steve Johnson that was ruled an incompletion. Yes, it looked like a catch from my view. But to say that's the reason the Bills lost is a stretch. The Bills only scored 13 points on 56 offensive plays. Buffalo scored just three points in the second half. The Bills had plenty of opportunities to win and failed to execute. One play should not be enough to derail an entire team.