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The State of the AFC East: NFL Week 1

The State of the AFC East: NFL Week 1
S/R Staff
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Well, Week 1 has come and gone. After months of waiting, the games lasted what seemed like mere seconds (much like Bpardo’s “night life”). Let’s take a look back at what we learned in Week 1 and look ahead to the NFL match ups waiting for AFC East in Week 2.

The Miami Dolphins

[dropcap][/dropcap]Well, we relearned what we all should have known: Cam Wake is a monster defensive end and the Dolphins D is a force to be reckoned with, as evidenced by the dominant performance on Sunday. 3 INTs, 6 sacks, and 16 hits on the QB made a visible impact on the game, as did the stifling run defense, giving up a stingy 47 yards. Unfortunately, the performance of the defense was not matched by the offense, which put up a meager 275 yards of total offense, 255 through the air and a dismal 20 on the ground. Lamar Miller did not live up to expectations for the 2013 season, by a long shot. On the positive side of the offense, Tannehill played well with a 63% completion rate, 1 TD, and 1 INT. Thankfully, the defense’s exceptional performance the Browns traditional ineptitude let them build up the lead until it was insurmountable.

Looking ahead, the Dolphins head to Andrew Luck-town, I mean, Indianapolis, to face the Colts. The Colts were none to impressive in their season debut, barely eking out a win over Terelle Pryor and the hapless Raiders, but you can be sure that Luck and Co will be putting the Dolphins secondary to the test. That is, if his Swiss cheese O-Line can keep Wake, Jordan, Starks, and Vernon off his back long enough for him to throw the ball. The Colts defense should allow more action on the ground as well, so we may see Lamar Miller’s numbers jump up in Week 2.

Prediction:
Miami – 27
Indy – 20

I don’t see Luck having a good day against that front 7 and I can see Tannehill exploiting the defense. I won’t expect much from Miller, but if he can get something going on the  ground, it could be a higher scoring affair on Miami’s side.

 

The New York Jets

[dropcap][/dropcap]This game taught me more about Tampa Bay than it did about New York. The Bucs are not nearly as far along as I had thought, but the Jets are pretty much as bad as I had thought as well; fortunately for them, Tampa is worse. In a snooze-fest that didn’t get entertaining until the final few minutes, the Jets pulled off a lucky final drive for a game winning FG off Nick Folk’s leg. Geno Smith played decently in his debut, but he lucked out of having to make a Hail Mary attempt for the win thanks to getting shoved out of bounds late by Tampa while he was scrambling for 10 yards. The defense played as well as can be expected of anyone, though, limiting the Bucs to a mere 17 points. The front 4 of New York is nasty, one of the best in the league, and they contained Doug Martin in a way few others were able to in his big rookie season.

The Jets face a quick turn around to face New England in Foxboro. I was well-prepared to say this would be a blowout, but the Patriots did not impress me against Buffalo, despite their late game heroics, so this could be more of a game than many would expect. The Patriots defense was quite good, however, and they’ll bottle up the run and pressure Geno Smith, probably keeping the Jets D on the field far longer than they want to be.

Prediction:
New England – 31
New York – 20

A close game until the 3rd quarter, then fatigue sets in on the Jets and the Patriots rack up a couple late TDs to pull away.

 

The New England Patriots

[dropcap][/dropcap]Patriots fans should be, if not worried, then at least concerned. The offense did not play well in Week 1, despite winning the game. Serious communication issues between Brady and the new rookie receivers exist, though Amendola exceeded expectations. They have also lost Shane Vereen for an undisclosed number of weeks after he suffered a broken wrist, and he was their only effective rusher after Ridley was benched for a relapse of fumblitis. Brady is still Brady and he managed to pull it out in the end, getting them into field goal range when it was needed, but it was an ugly win over a raw Buffalo team whose inexperience on the field and on the sidelines showed. This kind of performance won’t win them any games against some of the more challenging teams they will face this season, like Atlanta and New Orleans.

Looking ahead, the Patriots have an easy match up against the Jets, in Foxboro, to work on their offense. The Jets are no threat to put up big points and the Patriots defense played very well, limiting the Bills stars to less than 300 yards total offense.

Prediction:
See above, it’s the same game folks.

 

The Buffalo Bills

[dropcap][/dropcap]Oh Buffalo. I harbor such a love/hate for you and your inexplicable, yet oh-so-familiar, way to lose games you should win. Up by 4 in the 4th quarter, it only makes sense to give the 2nd best QB in the league 4 or 5 chances to get points on the board. The Bills Defense was surprisingly stout for much of the game, but 89 offense plays by the Patriots will wear anyone down and it showed in the 4th as the Bills gave up 2 FG scoring drives in the last quarter, while only possessing the ball for a mere 3:09 in the same period. The Bills offense was largely stifled by the Patriots defense, especially the run game and CJ Spiller, who had a mere 41 yards on 17 carries, a far cry from 6.0 YPC he averaged in 2012.

It’s not all bad news in Western NY, however. EJ Manuel looks like a very solid QB prospect and while he is still quite raw, his athleticism and talent showed. The WR corp looks similarly talented, though the loss of Marquise Goodwin was noticed, particularly in the return game. A minor resurgence of Fred Jackson also helped the Bills score points, as he lead in both receiving and rushing yards. The defense did show a lot of improvement, especially on the line where the Bills were able to put 2 sacks and 7 hits on Brady, through a normally very stingy offensive line. Once the Bills get Stephon Gilmore and Jairus Byrd back on the field, they might have a very respectable defense. All in all, the needle is pointing mostly up, but the Bills are a long way from even being a Wild Card contender, much less challenging for the division.

They have what I’d call an even strength match up with Carolina coming to town. The Bills looks awful against the read option in 2012, but the new defense has speed to contain Cam Newton. The Panthers looked bland in Week 1, so the Bills might be able to make a statement victory in Week 2. Step 1 to building a winning mentality for the franchise is winning the games you should win.

Prediction:
Buffalo 27
Carolina 19

CJ Spiller rebounds from his dismal Week 1, despite a stout front 7 in Carolina. EJ Manuel puts up bigger numbers in his second start and the defense holds the Panthers to field goals and a single touchdown.

 

Written by: CJ gets too many carries

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