Week 7 is over and done and with it came two upset victories within the AFC East division. Doom has been looming and controversy has been fueling debate since the final whistle on Sunday.
The New England Patriots and New York Jets
Week 7 Results: Jets 30, Patriots 27
The Patriots gave one away against a Jets team that has been riding a roller coaster of competency this season. A very stupid penalty was called on the final play, a penalty that was called for the first time in NFL history, a penalty that definitively altered the outcome of the game. Regardless, the Patriots squandered a 21-10 lead in the 3rd quarter by allowing 17 unanswered points. They had to struggle back in the 4th quarter to tie and force overtime. They also got the ball first in OT and failed to score any points, giving the Jets a chance to win it with a mere field goal. The Jets defense deserves a lot of credit for holding the Patriots to 20 points on offense and an astounding 1-12 3rd down conversion rate.
The Jets dominated the clock by running 52 of their 89 plays, holding a whopping 46:13 to 23:40 edge in time of possession. Aside from one horrible pick 6 thrown by Geno Smith in the first quarter, the Jets offense played fairly well, grinding out yards on the ground and playing conservatively in the passing game. It was a formula that worked well with the defense’s ability to limit Brady and the Patriots offense to a mere 295 yards from scrimmage.
The Jets get to travel to Cincinnati on Sunday, hosted by a 5-2 Bengals team that is fresh off back to back close games decided by a field goal on the final play of the game. Andy Dalton has been on fire recently, throwing for over 700 yards and 6 TDs to only 1 INT. The Jets D has been good, but they’ll have their work cut out for them. Geno Smith’s level of play has been erratic and the Jets have not been able to play well consistently enough to win back to back games since Week 13/14 of 2012.
Bengals – 30 (Dalton continues his hot streak and throws for 350 yards and 3 more TDs at home)
Jets – 23 (The Jets can’t establish a running game and Geno is forced into a position to make mistakes)
The Patriots host the Dolphins in Week 8. The Dolphins are fresh off their 3rd straight loss and first division loss, which I will elaborate on below. This match up interests me because it’s going to come down to how well the injury depleted and battered Patriot’s defensive front can deal with the incompetent and flimsy Dolphins’ offensive line. The Dolphins need this win more, but I don’t think they have what it takes to beat New England in Foxboro.
Patriots – 26 (Brady struggles, but clutch plays provide another nauseating week of praise in the media)
Dolphins – 19 (No run game, Tannehill gets pressured constantly and the sacks+INTs combo costs them)
The Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins
Week 7 Results: Bills 23, Dolphins 21
The Bills hadn’t won on the road since Week 6 of the 2012 season, including a loss at Sun Life Stadium in Week 16. That 6 game road losing streak ended on Sunday with an improbable victory over Miami. Turnovers were the key for the Bills, starting with a pick 6 on the third play of the game. Another bad pass from Tannehill cost the dolphins a scoring opportunity and the pivotal play of the game was his fumble on Mario Williams’ strip sack. To be honest, as a Bills fan, I don’t think we played well enough to win by any means, but when you get dealt a series of opportunities, there’s a lot to be said for making as much as you can out of them. They’ve shown a lot of grit and toughness playing without a lot of key players thanks to unfortunate injuries, but being 3-4 at this point has exceeded many expectations.
The Dolphins, on the other hand, have fallen flat on their faces after a 3-0 start, losing 3 straight games. Losing to Buffalo after a Bye Week is nearly inexcusable, and the play calling and decision-making was not much better. In the crucial strip sack, the coordinator called for a running play to drain the clock, but Tannehill audibled to a pass because he saw the Bills were crowding the box. Not a bad idea, except you know your O Line has been letting you get pummeled all day and they gave up the biggest play of the game at the worst possible time.
The Dolphins are traveling to Foxboro, as outlined above, but I wanted to throw out some more thoughts on this match up. Miami needs to run the ball more. I don’t care how, get Clay involved as a FB if you have to, but pound it up the middle at the giant hole left by Wilfork and Mayo and get yards the old-fashioned way. The O Line can’t protect Tannehill well enough to work the down field passing game and if Talib is playing, it’s not going to work out that well anyway.
The Bills are also on the road, in the South again at New Orleans. The Superdome is one of the toughest places to play in the NFL and the Saints are significantly better at home, which says a lot considering how good they are in general. I do not like Buffalo’s chances in this game, not one bit. Realistically, they would be fortunate to keep it close, but I see a blowout brewing. The Bills have been remarkably consistent on scoring with all seven games falling between 20 and 24 points. 24 points won’t beat New Orleans. The Bills will need to play well beyond their normal capabilities to have a shot, but the one thing I do know is that they won’t quit on this game and they won’t back down from the challenge. The key will be Darren Sproles. With Graham’s status in question, Sproles will be their most lethal weapon and the Bills struggle stopping elusive backs in space (and running backs in general). If they can keep Sproles in check, they can make a game of it.
Saints – 34 (Brees does what he does and the Saints rack up 4 passing TDs)
Bills – 24 (Keeping the streak of 20+ alive, early mistakes lead to a big deficit they can’t overcome)