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S/R Staff

Older AFCE

The battle for 1st in the AFC East

The battle for 1st in the AFC East
S/R Staff
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MIAMI DOLPHINS:

The Dolphins aim for a 3-0 record to start the season for the first time since 2002. Miami, which registered both wins on the road (at Cleveland and Indianapolis), will host Atlanta in its home opener on Sunday.

“I think Miami’s legit,” says former NFL head coach and NBC analyst TONY DUNGY.

The Dolphins have been led by a stingy defense that applies pressure on the quarterback. Through Week 2, Miami is tied for a league-high 9 sacks.

“It’s only two games in and it’s a long season,” says Dolphins cornerback BRENT GRIMES. “But if we keep it up, we’ll be happy with what we do by year’s end.”

Offensively, Miami has been led by second-year quarterback RYAN TANNEHILL. The former first-round pick has passed for 591 yards with two touchdowns versus one interception and a 94.2 passer rating in 2013. In Week 2, Tannehill registered his second career game with 300+ passing yards in a 24-20 win at Indianapolis.

“Having gone through an NFL season and an offseason program as a starter, he has grown into the position and has tremendous confidence,” says Dolphins offensive coordinator MIKE SHERMAN. “He shows me great composure when he’s on the field.”

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS:

 The Patriots have started the season with two wins decided by three points-or-fewer against AFC East rivals Buffalo (23-21) and the New York Jets (13-10).

“Last year we were 1-2 and we ended up having a great season, so I’m glad we started out 2-0 with two wins in the division,” says Patriots quarterback TOM BRADY.

Brady, who has a 76-13 (.854) record at home, the best winning percentage among quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era (minimum 50 starts), aims to improve that mark on Sunday at home against Tampa Bay.

With a win, the Patriots will register their first 3-0 start to a season since 2007 when New England posted an undefeated regular-season record (16-0).

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Both teams look poised to battle for the number one spot atop the AFC East, the only difference this year is that roles seemed to have been reversed. This season marks the first one in the past 10 years that the Dolphins are meeting expectations brought on by the free agency frenzy putting them in a tie with division rival New England Patriots. On the other side the Patriots began the season with question marks at the receiver position and although they have accumulated two wins, questions remain and injuries have piled up.

Even though Miami Cornerback Brent Grimes adheres to the humble approach, it should be noted that Miami has not won these last two games on Defense alone as past game history has shown, but instead on a balanced approach of offense and defense. Miami has managed to climb up the offensive stats with a point differential of +17 points for vs. points against, putting them at third place in the AFC ahead of the Patriots by +12 points, something that has surprised even the most seasoned pundits and arm-chair quarterbacks.

Now the New England Patriots, well…they have Tom Brady. Even with questions surrounding the wide receiver corps the Patriots managed to stay ahead of the Dolphins by winning intra-divisional games. Gronkowski is expected to be back by week 4 to help the much-needed TE roster and even though Amendola will be out for a few weeks, Brady’s accuracy and uncanny game management ability will most likely make the battle for first in the division a difficult one. However, the luxury of playing against rookie quarterbacks is now in the history books and the future holds some tough match-ups against the Saints, Falcons and Bengals which will certainly make their grip on the division less than a forgone conclusion.

As it stands right now, the Dolphins seem to have the edge over the Patriots with their balanced approach and quiet winning style but don’t forget that this is just week 3 of the NFL and things have a habit of changing from day-to-day.

By Sergio Peralta

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