It's a big week for the AFC East, featuring the Jets and Patriots going at it on Thursday night with first place on the line. With one of those teams sure to improve their wins column, the Bills and Dolphins need to win this week in order to keep a solid place in the hunt for the division title.
We, as Community Leaders in the AFC East on Bleacher Report, decided to get together through email and talk about week eleven.
Chris Radez (TheScoreBoards.com):
One game now separates first place from last place in the division. The Jets absolutely trounced the Rams on Sunday, but New England currently holds the tie-breaker advantage due to their win over New York earlier in the season.
The Jets have a chance to turn the tables on Thursday night, when they travel into Foxboro to face a Patriots team which is a lot more comfortable now than it was when they faced off the first time.
What is the most important thing that the Jets need to do if they want to win the game on Thursday?
Mackenzie Kraemer (Jets Daily):
The key for the Jets is getting the offense going.
The defense has been stout against the run, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis needs to prove to me he can run against a tough run defense before I believe the Patriots will be the first team to get a consistent running game going against the Jets.
To be fair, LaMont Jordan killed the Jets down the stretch of the first game, but starter Sammy Morris managed 0 yards on 8 carries (with a touchdown). That will make the Patriots at least a little one-dimensional.
Darrelle Revis will mirror Randy Moss's every move, and while it would be foolish to predict he will completely shut down the star receiver, Revis is on the verge of being a shutdown cornerback, and Moss probably will not have a great game. This game will be all about how much Wes Welker hurts the Jets on 3rd down because the #2 cornerback has been a little inconsistent for the Jets, and Welker killed the Jets with 7 catches for 72 yards.
Remember, even though New England won the first game 19-10, they only managed 4 more yards than their rivals. If Jay Feely makes an early chip-shot field goal, and Brett Favre doesn't throw a bad interception leading to the Patriots sole touchdown, the result might have been different.
The Jets know they need to cut down on their mistakes to win because the defense has played well enough in the past two weeks to beat good football teams. The offense will surely need to involve Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery more this week, even though Dustin Keller emerged with his first career 100-yard game.
I think the Jets need to establish their running game right off the bat. Forget all the emotion and the rivalry, and just go out there and play football. After a rough start to the season, the Patriots have done a good job against the rush in my opinion, stopping premier backs such as Frank Gore, Joe Addai, Marshawn Lynch, and LT this year. The Jets will have to prove that that 3 td performance from Jones was not a fluke, and start running the ball early. In yesterday's game, the Patriots did a phenomenal job shutting down the run on first down, forcing Trent Edwards into 2nd and 3rd and long passing situations that did not help out the Bills.
The Jets also have to confuse Matt Cassel pre-snap. With the Pats offensive line in full force, the Jets may have a hard time getting pressure. If that is the case, they must show Cassel things pre-snap that he has not seen before, perhaps daring him to call an audible in certain situations. Yesterday, Cassel did a great job stepping up in the pocket and moving from read to read pretty seamlessly. The Jets can surely effect his decision making if they give him exotic defensive looks before the ball is snapped.
As simple as I can put it, the Jets need to play ball control throughout this game, and keep the Pats offense off the field. If they do this with Thomas Jones running like he did last week, along with Brett Favre taking, and making, a few chances down the field, while still not turning the ball over, I believe that the Jets will be hard to beat in this game.
On the defensive side of the ball, again, as simple as I can put it, if they play like they did against the Rams, the Jets should be set.
This is easier said then done though, and that is why the games are played. I am saying 28-24 Jets this week though.
After Sunday's historic win against the Rams it is safe to say that the Jets have finally found their game.
What they face now is possibly the biggest game of the season against the Patriots. The re-acquisition of Ty Law can only help the defense who has caused opposition to turn over the ball eight times in the last two games.
The key for me is Brett Favre. We know what Jones and Washington can do on the ground and while Favre controls the tempo every drive I'm still waiting for a few bomb TD's like his days in Green Bay. He is known for stepping up in big games and this could be his most important as a Jet.
While interceptions to the Patriots seem scary, not having Tom Brady capitalize on the Jets mistakes will prove dividends on Thursday.
Cassel has only thrown seven TD's thus far relying heavily on his backs. The Jets are fifth in rush defense will hopefully stop most of the Patriots offense. I see this game going back and forth but do see Gang Green victorious and in first place when all is said and done.
Matt Schaefer (Bills Weekly):
Well the Jets need to a few things in this game to get the win. For starters they need to stop the run. The Patriots have had great success running the ball and it has been with their 4th string back, BenJarvus Green-Ellis who has scored a TD in four consecutive games. Even with all of the Patriots injuries in the running game, they still average 133 yards on the ground (which is good for 7th best in the league).
The Jets are in a good spot though with one of the top run defenses in the league, only letting up a mere 76.4 yards on the ground. The Jets need to win the battle in the trenches and shut down the Patriots running attack. If they don’t, the Patriots will be able to control the ball, keeping the Jets offense off of the field and tiring out the defense.
The Jets also have to pressure Matt Cassel. The young QB hasn’t put up superb numbers this year (7 TDs, 7 INTs) and can be forced into errors when pressured.
What the Jets have to do though on their blitzing packages is have a man one-on-one with Wes Welker. I know you can’t cover Welker one-on-one but if you put a guy on him that can slow him down and stop him from making the big run after the catch. If the Jets zone blitz a lot of the time, Welker will have another huge game.
Lastly, the Jets have to limit the turnovers. They have a great offense that is 3rd in the league is scoring per game, however turnovers can kill them. Brett Favre is leading the league in interceptions and is facing a Patriots defense that knows how to pick the ball off. They are tied for 8th in the league with 10 picks already this year.
If Favre can get the ball into his team’s hands, they should have a pretty good night with the Patriots secondary so beat up with injuries. He only turned the ball over once in their last meeting and if he can do that again, the Jets stand a good chance to win.
I agree with most of your points, Matt. Especially the zone coverage on Welker, as Buffalo primarily used a zone scheme and it resulted in 15 receptions for Moss and Welker.
I think the main aspect of the Jets' offense Bill Belichick will need to gameplan for is Thomas Jones. He had a great game in their 47-3 shellacking of the Rams, and the Patriots run defense has not been all that good.
Miami and Buffalo both have very winnable games in week eleven, with Miami hosting the Raiders and the Bills hosting the Browns. Any chance either team will 'look past' this week and end up with an unexpected loss?
First, the Jets and Pats will certainly be a very good game, too bad it's on NFL Network. If the Pats stop Thomas Jones and the versatile Leon Washington, then they will win the game. Brett Favre will have no choice but to sling the ball over 35 times, meaning at least two picks.
For the Jets, you guys said it. Stop Welker short and Moss long. If they do that and bring corner blitzes and put pressure on Cassel I believe the Jets will win.
As for my FINS, they can't take the Raiders lightly. I know the Raiders haven't scored an offensive touchdown in 9 straight quarters, but they are kind of like Miami earlier this year. No one took Miami seriously early on and it came back and bit some teams. Now Miami cant do the same and look past the Raiders.
They barely got by a Seattle team who they should've beaten by at least two touchdowns. Rather, they needed the game's final drive to seal the deal. I've been stressing the importance of taking advantage of home field. Miami needs to do so here. If they do, they will be 6-4 with the Pats coming into town in two weeks.
The Raiders offense is stagnant, but Justin Fargas is solid. He ran well against a good Panthers D. Miami has had a tendency to give up the long run. They can't help the Raiders out by doing that. Also, Miami needs to be more sound on special teams. They are giving up way too many yards on kick returns.
As for offense, the Raiders have a good defense so Miami needs to be efficient. It's a good game for Pennington I believe. They need to pound the run and use the Wildcat occasionally to throw the Raiders off balance. I hope they throw a few deep balls to Ginn too. Keep the defense guessing.
Overall, Miami is no longer the underdog, so they need to understand what it's like to win as the favorite. I believe Miami will win this one, and look good doing so.
The Bills can not look past any opponent for the rest of the season. Each game they have to go in there, giving 110% and trying to earn the win. Due to their 0-3 start in the division, they might have put themselves in a hole that they can’t dig themselves out of.
Now there is still plenty of ball games to go and they do play pretty easy teams, but remember that the other AFC East team basically have the same exact schedule (except for the Patriots, theirs is a little bit tougher).
The Bills are in last place in the division at 5-4 and currently 9th in the AFC standings.
I say the hole might be too big to get out of because of the tiebreakers that determine who makes the playoffs. The AFC East is filled with very competitive teams that are all log jammed in the division. Ties between two division team are decided by:
- Head to Head Record (0-1 to all AFC East teams)
- Best record in the Division (Pats, Jets and ‘Fins are all 2-1)
- Best record in common games
- Best Record in the Conference (Pats, Jets and ‘Fins are all 4-3 while Bills are 3-3)
So the Bills have to have a very strong end to the season therefore they should not look past any of the games that they play from here on out. Plus, the Bills are a better team than the Browns, believe it or not, and if they show up to play they shouldn’t lose anyways (that is a big IF though).
Thursday's game is crucial for both teams without a doubt. If New York wants any chance to make the playoffs, they need to beat New England Thursday, because they play Tennessee the week after. The Patriots play the Dolphins after New York, so that will be a close matchup as well.
Miami needs to not lose focus on their gameplay just because they are playing a pretty bad team. They need to pretend like their playing the Patriots in week 3 and act as they are the underdog. A win this week would make 4 in a row for Miami which will be big against New England the week after.
Buffalo is playing Cleveland, which should be a win for them. They are coming off of three losses in a row against division teams, so even if their record doesn't show it, I think they are out of the playoffs this year. Though, they have a few easy games in the next few weeks, so maybe they can prove me wrong.
I think that we all can agree that we are in the tightest division race currently in the NFL. I'm excited to see how it all plays out.
Me too, Paul. This is panning out to be one of the most exciting division races the AFC East has seen in years.
Stay tuned for next week's AFC East Roundtable, as the 2008 NFL Season continues on.