NFL Nation: blitz

Final Word: AFC East

November, 9, 2012
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Here are five nuggets of knowledge for Week 10:

Spiller Time: If the Buffalo Bills have any chance of pulling off a monumental upset of the New England Patriots, the Bills must get C.J. Spiller involved. Spiller is Buffalo’s most dynamic player, but doesn’t get enough touches. He leads the NFL with 7.2 yards per attempt, but only had six carries in last week’s loss to the Houston Texans. Spiller is a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the football. New England’s defense must account for him.

[+] EnlargeWes Welker
AP Photo/Jon FerreySeveral injured Patriots, including Wes Welker, were helped by the bye week.
Healthy returns: The bye week helped the Patriots with several injuries. Receiver Wes Welker (ankle) and cornerback Kyle Arrington (head) were injured in a win against the St. Louis Rams. Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins (hip) and tight end Aaron Hernandez (ankle) didn’t play in the game. The time off should help the Patriots get back most of these key players Sunday against Buffalo.

New and improved Tebow: The New York Jets said that during the bye week they would figure out how to get backup quarterback Tim Tebow more involved in the offense. New York (3-5) plans to unleash more Tebow in a tough road game against the Seattle Seahawks. Tebow has been mostly a dud in the first eight games. He hasn’t done much on offense, but successfully converted on several fake punts on special teams. On Sunday we will see what the Jets came up with.

Rookie vs. Rex: Jets head coach Rex Ryan is a longtime defensive coordinator who has made a habit of battering rookie quarterbacks. Look no further than Miami Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who lost his first meeting against the Jets and was knocked out of the second game in the first quarter. Ryan’s defense gets another rookie this weekend in Seattle’s Russell Wilson. Expect plenty of blitzes and exotic looks to confuse and get in the face of Wilson, who has won five games this season. The Jets’ best chance to pull the upset is to stop the run and bring the kitchen sink at Wilson to see if he can beat New York with his arm.

Quick turnaround: The Dolphins (4-4) have an important two-game stretch that could determine their season. Miami hosts the Tennessee Titans on Sunday and travels to play Buffalo on Thursday. The Dolphins have a chance to take two winnable games in five days. The Dolphins could quickly be 6-4 if they take care of business. Miami also could be 4-6 if it loses focus.

Final Word: AFC East

October, 19, 2012
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Here are five nuggets of knowledge about Week 7:

Rivalry renewed: First place in the AFC East is one the line when the New England Patriots (3-3) face the rival New York Jets (3-3). The Patriots swept the Jets last year and will try to go for three straight wins against New York. The Jets have had a lot of success against the AFC East. They already own wins this season over the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills. But beating New England at home is the toughest test to date for New York.

[+] EnlargeShonn Greene
AP Photo/Bill KostrounShonn Greene, coming off a big game against the Colts, will be called upon to get yards against the Patriots this week.
Gang Greene: The Patriots will face a hot Jets running back in Shonn Greene. He is coming off a season-high 161 rushing yards and three touchdowns in New York’s Week 6 win over the Indianapolis Colts. The Jets will try to impart their will and "ground and pound" the Patriots. But New England has an improved front seven and is sixth against the rush, allowing 82.7 yards per game. Expect a very physical battle at the line of scrimmage.

Should Jets back off Brady? The Jets are known to have an aggressive, blitzing defense under head coach Rex Ryan. But New York statistically is better this year when not bringing pressure. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Jets are second in the NFL in opponent passing percentage (54.1) when bringing four or few rushers. New York’s base defense also has created six interceptions. The Jets have blitzed Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the past. But New York has done so well bringing three and four rushers this season that the team may want to consider mixing it up more.

Spilling over: If there are not enough reasons already to get Buffalo Bills tailback C.J. Spiller the football more, here’s another one: Spiller leads the NFL with 3.9 yards per carry after contact. Spiller has rushed for 226 yards this season after the initial hit, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Spiller is the most dynamic offensive talent the Bills have. Yet, he continues to share a lot of carries (too many?) with teammate Fred Jackson. We will continue to monitor how many carries Spiller gets Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.

Getting healthy: The Dolphins are on a bye week. This is a great time for the team to get healthy. Miami doesn’t have many big injuries, but a few players are banged up. Starting cornerback Richard Marshall plans to return in two weeks from a back injury. Running backs Reggie Bush (knee) and Daniel Thomas (concussion) are also getting healthier. The Dolphins should be close to full strength when they face the Jets on Oct. 28.




Thursday, 9/18
Sunday, 9/21
Monday, 9/22