AFC East: Tom Brady And The Patriots Start Their Run For The Playoffs
by Kennedy Ross
Cold, Hard Football Facts AFC East Overlord (@FNscribeNY)
My how time flies. It seems like just yesterday Rex Ryan was telling everyone he had his best team to date. The whole Jets organization was snickering at the NFL world because they acquired Tim Tebow and his death-ray abilities in the wildcat offense. Now they are 3-5 and on their way to another slaughter, only it'll take place three hours later than usual.
The Patriots stumbled down the road a bit. They had folks wondering if their reign was over. Yet they sit 5-3 and atop the AFC East as usual. The schedule says they have only two losses left coming their way (Texans and 49ers). With the chinks in their armor exposed it might be three. However even if it's four, they still win the division.
Miami is trying to be David against the current Goliath. Their quarterback has become as scrappy as their whole team. Win or lose, it's not by much. They are still in the hunt for a wild card spot. They just have to step their game up one more notch to ensure a post season.
The Bills have been the model of inconsistency this year. Fitzpatrick is a flip of a coin on any given day and their running game has been getting worse by the week. Mario Williams will have to have a serious talk with himself this off-season to get his mind right. He's not in Texas anymore and he better get used to it or he's headed to historic bust-ville.
Here are five things you should be aware of as we head into Week 10:
1. Like Bills to a slaughter. (Patriots vs. Bills)
Here's a fun stat. Since 2000, the Patriots are 44-27 (.620) ATS in divisional play. The Bills are 31-42 (.425) over the same period of time. Even though some of us here at CHFF are qualified to be rocket scientists, it doesn't take one figure out the implications of that stat.
Whether you believe the (anti)hype about the Patriots or not, the numbers still don't lie. The Patriots are still number two in our Real Quarterback Rating, while the Bills are 27th on our Defensive Real Quarterback Rating.
What that means is that Tom Brady will be adding a few more layers on his 2408 passing yards, 65.3% completion percentage, and 16 touch downs for the winter. He will continue to feed tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide out Wes Welker, and the Bills won't be able to stop him.
The secondary reason for the Bills ineffectiveness will be the New England running game. The Patriots ground game has emerged as the number one rushing attack on our Offensive Hog Index. The Bills 28th ranked Defensive Hog run defense gave up 118 yards last week to the Texans and they are number three on our OHI.
The Patriots will be coming at the Bills from all angles. Even though the Patriots are lacking against the pass themselves, they are not going to lose a shootout to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Once the Patriots get up by two scores, it will simplify their defensive assignments, and then bye-bye Bills.
2. Yes, it's the same old Jets. (Jets vs. Seahawks)
Unless you are a throwback coach, you can't come to a podium and say your team stinks and they're done. No matter how true it is, you just can say that. However, when you are wallowing in the bottom quadrant of almost every statistic known to man and beast, you shouldn't say you have a good feeling about your team either.
That's what Jets head coach Rex Ryan does though. No matter how psychopathic he sounds, he will always tell you good things about the worst players on his team. It may be good for morale the first 33 times, but after that you just sound like you are completely out of touch with reality.
Ryan said this week that he likes where his team is headed. He meant that in the figurative sense. Literally, his team is headed to Seattle to face the Seahawks and another beating at the hands of another better team.
The thing that Seattle does best is run the ball. Running back Marshawn Lynch ran for three straight 100+ yard games coming into this one. He is second in the NFL with 881 yards with a 4.8 yards per carry average. Guess what the Jets suck at? That's right, stopping the run.
The Jets are at the bottom of the league in stopping the run. They are also near the bottom of the league in rushing themselves. That's a bad combination, especially when everyone knows it.
Have you heard this one before? "We are going to have some new things planned to Tim Tebow". That was also Ryan this week. Or it could have been last week. Or the week before. Or the month before that. He says the same thing almost every game, yet Tebow still runs the same two plays every game.
The Jets still have about three or so games before they are mathematically out of playoff contention. Lets see if Ryan repeats the same speech until that happens. If he were a throwback coach he would stop wasting everyone's time.
3. Dolphins keep their eye on Pats. (Dolphins vs. Titans)
This is a great team for the Dolphins to play. The Titans are a gift for Ryan Tannehill and for Reggie Bush. The Titans defense is atrocious on land and through the air. The Dolphins should be able to take advantage of that.
Tennessee has the worst passing defense in the league with a 32nd ranking in our Defensive Real Quarterbacks Rating and 31st in Defensive Passer Rating. Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has proven to be a cool and steady customer under center. With the holes he should see on Sunday, he will be able to make some big plays through the air.
As noted in the recap of the Dolphins last game, something is not right with the running game. And it's not just a problem with Bush. In only one game this season has Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin given Bush more than 20 carries. Just so happens that he ran for 172 yards that game.
The Dolphins rank 25th on our Offensive Hog Index. It seems worth a shot to see if Bush can come close to the same production with the same amount of carries. Tennessee is just the team to test that theory. They need to balance out their attack to help out their rookie quarterback.
They will also need a solid running game to keep Chris Johnson off the field. Johnson has run for 736 yards so far this season. More importantly, he is averaging 5.0 yards per carry. Miami can't afford to give him too many opportunities to break a big one.
The Dolphins are in line for another close game. This one will be of the victorious variety.
4. The end of Rex and the Jets.
The speculations had begun even before the bye week did. Staring down the barrel of a losing season, what will become of Rex Ryan when it's all over? Do you fire a coach after two AFC Championship games and two sub-par seasons?
Like all things, you have to look at the details for the truth of the matter. If the Jets do go below .500 this year, was it because of the players they lost, or the players they still have.
While losing the best defensive player in the league is a blow to any team, it wasn't a death blow for the Jets. It's not like they have been losing shoot outs every week. The Jets offense is atrocious and it's not just because they lost wide receiver Santonio Holmes to injury.
It has more to do with the fact that they had no one else after Holmes went down. According to sources, it wasn't only because the free agent crop was thin. ESPN New York sports personalities Michael Kay and Don La Greca reported on at least three separate occasions that former Jets wide receiver Plaxico Burress said publicly he didn't believe Mark Sanchez was a good quarterback.
Everyone blamed former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer for the offensive woes last year and demonized Holmes for his on field blow up at the end of the season. Maybe these two men knew what Burress knew. All three are gone now and the offense is as bad as ever if not worse.
This all falls back in Ryan's lap. He and general manger Mike Tannenbaum will have a lot to answer for at the end of the season.
5. You should sleep well knowing . . .
. . . Terry Bradshaw explains it's OK for Jimmy Johnson to enjoy a bucket of fried chicken but not Reggie Bush. Thanks for the cultural do's and dont's Terry.
. . . Rex Ryan was voted the most overrated coach in the league. He probably liked it better when he was just the most over eating coach in the league.
. . . Mario Williams revealed that he had a "Slight tear in his wrist". If only it had caused just a slight dip in his play.
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