NFL Nation: Maimi Dolphins
Miami Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore, this season's winner of the "Sanchez-Fitz-Moore Watch," was the second-best quarterback in the AFC East. He posted a QBR of 54.0, which was 17th in the NFL.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was third with a QBR of 51.2, which was 18th in the NFL. New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez was last in the division with a QBR of 33.6. Sanchez was 30th out of a possible 34 quarterbacks graded.
The only quarterbacks who scored lower than Sanchez this season were Sam Bradford (27.3), Tim Tebow (27.2), Curtis Painter (23.4) and Blaine Gabbert (20.5).
- The New England Patriots received a lot of press for making big-name acquisitions like Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco. But New England's best offseason addition turned out to be an under-the-radar free agent. Veteran defensive end Andre Carter signed with the Patriots in August and didn't create many headlines. He was one of several defensive linemen added to the team for depth, which included Haynesworth and Shaun Ellis. But Carter is on a tear with the Patriots this season. He had 4.5 sacks in Sunday's important win against the New York Jets and is tied for fourth in the NFL with nine sacks. Carter is on pace to shatter his career-best total of 11 sacks from 2009.
- The Patriots have depth issues at several positions, but offensive tackle is not one of them. New England flexed its muscle at tackle against the Jets and didn't allow any sacks on quarterback Tom Brady. Left tackle Matt Light and right tackle Sebastian Vollmer got the start and played great, while rookie first-round pick Nate Solder was used as a sub in heavy packages and temporarily when Vollmer was hurt. Both Vollmer and Solder were questionable heading into the game. The Patriots also have a young offensive tackle on their practice squad in Matt Kopa who has potential. The second-year player from Stanford could be additional insurance if New England has any major injuries at the position.
- The Jets (5-4) are essentially two games back in the AFC East and could run into issues in the wild-card race. The first tiebreaker is head-to-head meetings, and the Jets lost to a pair of wild-card contenders in the Baltimore Ravens (6-3) and Oakland Raiders (5-4). New York has to hope the Ravens and Raiders win their divisions. The Jets also have to worry about the Cincinnati Bengals (6-3) and maybe the struggling Buffalo Bills (5-4). The Jets and Bills could have an elimination game in two weeks at the Meadowlands.
- Speaking of Buffalo, a lot of pressure now is on Bills starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. He was paid $59 million to be the long-term solution and face of the franchise. Fitzpatrick is no longer a cute, surprising story. With the $10 million per year price tag comes high expectations for Fitzpatrick to consistently produce. It's poor timing for Fitzpatrick to play his worst football of the season. He's thrown for 337 yards, two touchdowns and five interceptions the past two weeks. As a result, Buffalo has been outscored 71-18 in that span against the Jets and Dallas Cowboys. The bar has been raised and Fitzpatrick will get a lion's share of the blame when things don't go well. That's par for the course for other franchise quarterbacks around the league.
- Buffalo has a lot of issues defensively. But the biggest issue haunting the Bills is their lack of pass rush. Buffalo thought it fixed its pass-rush issues in Toronto after registering 10 sacks against the Washington Redskins. It was the second-most sacks in Bills history. But that proved to be a fluke. Buffalo has just one sack in its past two games, and quarterbacks are taking advantage. Dallas quarterback Tony Romo was very comfortable in the pocket. He was 23 of 26 for 270 yards and three touchdowns.
- Is winning the best thing for the Miami Dolphins? Miami fans have to be torn about the Dolphins' two-game winning streak. The Dolphins are finally playing well. But it comes after the team has no pressure and no shot at the postseason. On the flip side, it's a virtual certainty Miami played itself out of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. The Indianapolis Colts (0-10) cannot win three of their final six games. Miami (2-7) also would have to lose its final seven games. That doesn't appear likely, either.
- Next week's game between Buffalo and Miami will be more interesting than expected. The AFC East blog will be covering that contest next week at Sun Life Stadium. I think this is a must-win game for Buffalo. The Bills are in the middle of their three-game road trip, and this is the most winnable one on their schedule. Miami, meanwhile, will have a lot of say in who wins the AFC East. The Dolphins have four division games remaining and seem to be relishing their "spoiler" role. Miami can put a huge dent in Buffalo's season next week.
But Ochocinco's lack of production got under the skin of former Patriot Tedy Bruschi. The ESPN analyst ripped Ochocinco for the receiver's tweet praising Brady's performance.
Here is the transcript of Bruschi with WEEI radio via Tom Curran of Comcast SportsNet New England:
"Drop the awe factor, OK, Ocho, Chad, drop the awe factor. You're not a fan, all right? You're not someone who's on another team or watching TV. You're not an analyst. You're a part of it. They want you to be a part of it. So get with the program because obviously you're not getting it and you're tweeting because you're saying, 'It's amazing to see'? It's amazing to see because you don't understand it! You still don't understand it and it's amazing to you because you can't get it.
"Stop tweeting and get in your playbook. Wake up! If you're just waking up now -- I don't know when this was, six minutes ago? -- get out your bed and get to the stadium and watch some film if you still think its amazing. If you're in it and you know what you're doing and you execute out there you don't think it's amazing. You know why? Because it's what you're supposed to do."
It's true that Ochocinco isn't up the speed. That was evident when Wes Welker and Deion Branch got most of the reps Monday.
But is Bruschi's criticism fair? This is Ochocinco's first year in New England's system and it was Week 1. He was acquired in a trade this summer from the Cincinnati Bengals.
Ochocinco can be a huge target, and often he brings that attention on himself. But this wasn't one of those instances. Many athletes tweet. Ochocinco was only praising a teammate who had a phenomenal performance.
The luxury for New England is that the Patriots don't need Ochocinco this early. They're good enough to win without him for now.
But if Ochocinco is still trying to learn the offense and catching one pass a game around midseason, the criticism would be warranted and more timely.
Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
The Baltimore Ravens suffered their second last-minute defeat in six days, falling to the Tennessee Titans 13-10 at M&T Bank Stadium.
Baltimore entered the game disappointed after blowing a 10-point lead in the second half and losing in overtime to the Pittsburgh Steelers. It turned out Tennessee also had some late-game magic for the Ravens Sunday, courtesy of quarterback Kerry Collins.
The veteran quarterback was held in check most of the day by Baltimore's top-rated defense. But Collins orchestrated an 11-play, 80-yard drive capped by an 11-yard touchdown pass to Titans tight end Alge Crumpler that sealed the game. Baltimore rookie quarterback Joe Flacco threw his second interception to Tennessee defensive back Nick Harper late to end any hopes of a comeback.
The next week will be a stern test of resolve for the Ravens (2-2), because the road doesn't get any easier.
Baltimore has back-to-back road games against the Indianapolis Colts (2-2) next week and the Miami Dolphins (2-2) on Oct. 19. The Ravens are 0-1 on the road this season, and it will be interesting to see how this team responds after two last-minute defeats that could have propelled them atop of the AFC North and the conference.
7:30 PM ET Carolina New England 7:30 PM ET New York New York 7:30 PM ET Jacksonville Detroit 8:00 PM ET Oakland Green Bay 10:00 PM ET Chicago Seattle
4:30 PM ET Tampa Bay Buffalo 7:00 PM ET Dallas Miami 7:00 PM ET Tennessee Atlanta 7:30 PM ET Washington Baltimore 8:00 PM ET New Orleans Indianapolis 8:00 PM ET St. Louis Cleveland 8:00 PM ET Minnesota Kansas City 9:00 PM ET Houston Denver