AFC East Stock Watch

December, 20, 2011
12/20/11
1:00
PM ET
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FALLING

1. New York Jets: How do you explain a team on a three-game winning streak and fighting for a playoff spot laying the type of egg the Jets did on Sunday? You can't. Jets head coach Rex Ryan was shocked and at a loss for words after his team didn't show up in a 45-19 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Jets were flat-out beat in every phase. It was New York's worse loss in two years. Fortunately, New York (8-6) still controls its own destiny. The Jets need to win their final two games against the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins to secure the final seed in the AFC. Both are winnable games. But you just never know which Jets team will show up.

2. Buffalo Bills' third-down offense: What happened to Buffalo's offense? The Bills could not stay on the field in the first three quarters in a loss to the Miami Dolphins. Buffalo was 0-for-11 on third down and eventually fell behind 30-13. The offense warmed up in the fourth quarter, but it was too late. What's even more embarrassing is that Buffalo couldn't get a first-down conversion against Miami all season.

3. Wayne Hunter, Jets right tackle: Hunter allowed three sacks to Eagles defensive end Jason Babin. It was another poor performance in a string of bad games Hunter has had this season. The Jets have no depth at offensive tackle and are forced to keep the struggling Hunter in the lineup. He's pushed around way too often, which puts Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez at risk.

RISING

[+] EnlargeReggie Bush
Kevin Hoffman/US PresswireDolphins RB Reggie Bush runs under pressure from Bills cornerback Drayton Florence on Sunday.
1. Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots tight end: The Denver Broncos were so focused on Rob Gronkowski that they forgot about New England's other tight end. Hernandez ran circles around the Broncos with nine catches for 129 yards and a touchdown. He killed single coverage and showed why he’s also one of the top tight ends in the NFL. Hernandez could be key for the Patriots in the playoffs if opponents continue to focus on "Gronk."

2. Reggie Bush, Dolphins running back: Bush is proving that he can be a feature back. Bush dominated Buffalo’s defense with 203 yards and a touchdown. Bush needs just 27 yards for his first 1,000-yard season. Many questioned the Bush signing in Miami, but Bush has proven to be one of the best free-agent signings in the AFC East.

3. C.J. Spiller, Bills running back: Spiller had his most complete game, albeit in a losing effort. The 2010 first-round pick rushed for 91 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. Spiller also had nine receptions for 76 yards. He accounted for a majority of Buffalo's offense and is making a good impression after the season-ending leg injury to Fred Jackson. It remains to be seen whether Spiller can be a feature back, but he's showing potential.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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