A look back and a look ahead at AFC East matchups
Week 2 is in the books and what a week it was. Thrilling 4th quarter finishes, high-powered offenses, and rock-solid defenses all combined for one hell of an entertaining NFL Sunday. Join me as I take a look back at the AFC East performance this weekend, and a look ahead at the Week 3 match-ups.
The Miami Dolphins
Week 2 Results – Dolphins 24, Colts 20
In a rematch of Week 9 in 2012, 2nd year quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Ryan Tannehill locked horns at Lucas Oil Stadium. This time around Tannehill got the better of the Colts in a [dropcap][/dropcap]very good performance, 319 yards, 67.6% completion rate, 1 TD, and 0 INTs. He hooked up with Mike Wallace 9 times on 11 targets for 115 yards and one TD and also made great use of Charles Clay and Brian Hartline. He did have one crucial fumble in his own end of the field, but the Miami defense managed to bail him out by holding Luck and the Colts’ offense to a field goal. Lamar Miller also had a nice bounce back weekend, averaging 4.9 YPC on 14 carries plus a touchdown on a nice 10 yard run. All in all, a very solid performance all around for Miami on offense, despite some shaky offensive line play that allowed 5 sacks against a sub-par Colts defensive line. If the Dolphins can keep putting together games like this on offense, watch out New England.
The Miami defense was not up to it’s usual standards in Week 2, allowing 315 yards of total offense in the first half against Indianapolis and giving up 17 points. They knuckled up in the second half, though, cutting the Colts to 123 yards and holding them to only a field goal, on a very short field after Tannehill’s fumble. They also allowed 133 yards rushing and superstar defensive end Cameron Wake was held to only 1 tackle and 0 sacks, though the defense as a whole had 3. Brent Grimes had the games only INT and the first thrown by Andrew Luck in 165 attempts, ending the league’s longest active streak. In the end, not their best performance, but they were strong when they needed to be and allowed their team to hold on to a lead in the 4th quarter.
Week 3 brings the Dolphins their home opener against Atlanta, who looked very good against St. Louis, despite letting the Rams get back in the game late. The duo of Roddy White and Julio Jones will put the Miami secondary to the test with Matt Ryan throwing the ball, but they should be able to contain Steven Jackson. Historically, the Dolphins D-Line is very tough on power running backs, as they showed in Week 1 against Trent Richardson (shout out to Finfan). The Atlanta defense has not been good thus far, so I expect Miami will find ways to exploit their weaknesses and put enough points on the board to make it a game.
Atlanta – 24 (The Falcons pass for 3 TDs, but are held largely in check by the Miami D)
Miami – 27 (Tannehill passes for 2 TDs, Miller puts another in the end zone, and Sturgis hits a long game winner as time expires)
The New York Jets
Week 2 Results – Patriots 13, Jets 10
An ugly, ugly division game in Foxboro lead to the Jets first loss of the season. Frankly, the Jets played relatively well, but made costly mistakes in the 4th quarter and the game slipped through their fingers. Outgaining the Patriots by almost 100 yards is no easy task and they actually lead the Patriots in every offensive category. Unfortunately, they also lead in penalties (8 – 66) and turnovers (3 INTs and 1 FUM). They had some success in the first half passing and put up over 100 yards rushing, but a combination of awful weather and rookie mistakes lead to 3 4th quarter INTs from Geno Smith. I don’t put as much blame on Smith as others have, he’s a rookie and he was put in a position where he had to win the game. When you’re down late in the 4th, you have to take risks if you want to win the game and sometimes risks don’t pay off. The only boneheaded INT he threw was the last one, off his back foot and right into the arms of Aqib Talib.
The Jets D was stout, as usual, but the total lack of coordination between Tom Brady and his receivers was a contributing factor. The Jets certainly did a great job stopping the run, allowing a meager 54 yards rushing from the Patriots. The defense did it’s part to make this game winnable, but the Jets young offense needs to learn how to capitalize on such opportunities.
The Jets get a home game against another division rival, Buffalo, in Week 3. Buffalo is coming off a great come-from-behind victory over Carolina at home, but the Jets have 10 days to prepare for them. I expect the Jets to game plan heavily around stopping CJ Spiller and exploiting the Bills’ injury-plagued secondary. If Geno Smith can get it on track early, it could be a long day for the Bills at MetLife stadium.
Buffalo – 20 (The Jets contain Spiller, but F Jax steps up again and gets points on the board)
New York – 16 (Geno throws for one TD, but 2 INTs and gets sacked multiple times)
The New England Patriots
[dropcap][/dropcap]Lucky. Were I to pick one word to sum up the Patriots season thus far, that would be it. Lucky they drew a soft opening schedule, lucky that 2 rookie QBs couldn’t win games that were there for the taking, lucky that they get another soft match-up in Week 3. When you get out-gained at home, by the Jets and their rookie QB and 3/4 of a WR in Holmes and Hill, and still get a win, it’s pure luck. I’d be quite concerned if I was a Patriots fan. The Patriots were unproductive on offense and the frustration Brady showed on the field and on the sidelines was on par with the worst of the likes of Rivers, Cutler, and Marino. The run game was practically non-existent and Brady’s numbers were the lowest I think I’ve ever seen from him.
The defense actually bailed out the Patriots in Week 2. Strange as it sounds, it’s true; critical INTs and defensive stands kept the Jets from scoring late and essentially won the game for them. The defense has been the best part of the team this season, and when the Patriots get Gronkowski back, I expect them to regain a measure of their old offensive potency, as long as he remains on the field. They won’t be leading the league in scoring again, but they’ll put up enough points to beat down the likes of the Jets, Bucs, and Bills.
Speaking of the Bucs, the Patriots are hosting them in Week 3. Tampa has looked miserable through the first 2 weeks of the season and the Patriots should have success on offense, assuming their rookie WRs can catch the ball. The defense is a good match up against Tampa as well, their best weapon is Doug Martin and the Pats D will keep him in check, I believe.
New England – 27 (Ridley gets it on track, rushes for 100+ and 2 TDs)
Tampa Bay – 17 (Freeman can’t get it together, throws 2 INTs, one late in the 4th to cost them the game)
The Buffalo Bills
Allow me to take a moment to let my inner Bills fan out. HELL YES! 4TH QUARTER COME BACK IN BUFFALO, FOR ONCE!!!
Okay, that’s done. The Bills shocked me and apparently most of the world with a come from behind victory over Carolina in Week 2. EJ Manuel lead a great drive down the field with 1:38 left on the clock and put the game away with a 2 yard TD pass to Stevie Johnson with 0:02 left in the game. Far from flawless, the young QB also threw his first INT and lost his first fumble on back to back possessions, turnovers that lead to the Panthers’ 6 point lead in the first place. He also got bailed out by a defensive PI call that negated another INT during that final drive. CJ Spiller came back with a solid performance, 103 yards on 16 carries, plus 4 receptions for 26 yards. Fred Jackson proved why he’s still an important part of the offense, with one TD run, clutch plays late, and possibly the play of the game, an intentionally dropped pass in the flat on the final drive, a heads-up play that stopped the clock instead of a meaningless 1 yard catch.
The Bills defense was the real star though, oddly enough. The Bills have been gashed by running QBs in the past, but Cam Newton was almost a non-factor in the running game. The Bills sacked him 6 times, hit him 9 times, and had 1 INT. Mario Williams set a franchise record for most sacks in one game with 4.5, breaking a record shared by Hall of Famer Bruce Smith and Cornelius Bennett. In a thoroughly dominant performance, the Bills held the Panthers to 308 yards of total offense. Despite coming up on the wrong side the ledger on penalties and turnovers, the Bills D still came up big, holding the Panthers to field goals instead of touchdowns after turnovers deep in their own end.
The Bills travel to face the Jets in Met Life Stadium. The Jets defense is very good, but they’ve shown weakness in the secondary so far, something the Bills can exploit with down field passing. The Jets offense will try to run the ball, so the D Line will need to put up another good performance to check that. The weak point for Buffalo is the secondary. Though McKelvin has played much better than expected, they still lack depth and experience at CB and S. If Geno Smith can hit his receivers and they can hold on to the ball, then they could make the Bills pay with big plays.
See above, division games make my job easier.