NFL Week 2 AFC East: In the Land of the Giants

The New England Patriots and the New York Jets are the NFL’s version of the Hatfield and the McCoys. Last year they had the best race of any two teams in football. The 45-3 Monday Night massacre gave the Patriots the division, yet the Jets came back a month later to knock them off of their perch in the playoffs. Even here at the Taylor Blitz Times, we have these two picked to face off in the AFC Championship Game in the new Meadowlands. True to form they have come out of the blocks strong with twin 2-0 records and each have looked as advertised.

However no one figured that Buffalo’s land of misfit toys would come together with an esprit du corps that has them believing they are worthy of primetime status with their 2-0 record. Misfit toys?? Yes! Who wanted Shawne Merriman after his steroid suspension and subsequent knee injury?? How about Fred Jackson who leads the NFL in rushing after two weeks with 229 yards?? Buffalo draftedRB CJ Spiller to be the breakaway runner the team has lacked since Thurman Thomas just last year to replace Jackson. Who was going to catch passes now that Lee Evans is gone?? Stevie Johnson has more than taken over for Evans, he’s outperforming what was projected of Evans had he stayed. Then you have quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Ivy League guy. He doesn’t pass the eyeball test for an NFL quarterback when you look at his stature, and with that name you’d associate that with your local accountant. You know he doesn’t have a quarterback name like Luckman, Unitas, Aikman, Staubach, or a Tarkenton. Fitzpatrick?? Yes Fitzpatrick. The ultimate “misfit toy” has thrown for 472 yards, 7 touchdowns with only 1 interception. Better get used to the name…we have but first lets look at the standings

New England 2 0 0 1.000 1-0-0 1-0-0 1-0-0 2-0-0 73 45 +28 Won 2
NY Jets 2 0 0 1.000 2-0-0 0-0-0 0-0-0 1-0-0 59 27 +32 Won 2
Buffalo 2 0 0 1.000 1-0-0 1-0-0 0-0-0 2-0-0 79 42 +37 Won 2
Miami 0 2 0 .000 0-2-0 0-0-0 0-1-0 0-2-0 37 61 -24 Lost 2

The Buffalo Bills are averaging 39.5 points per game, which is higher than the 2007 New England team that scored 589 points for the all time record with 36.8 point average. Ironically Tom Brady and the Patriots are averaging 36.5 points per game themselves as they work Ochocinco into the mix. Do you realize that Brady has thrown for 940 yards 7 TDs and only 1 interception?? He’s on pace to throw for 7,520 yards and 56 TDs. Of course we jest but these numbers don’t make you scoff because he owns the record with 50 TDs in a season. Yet had we said that for Fitzpatrick, who has equaled him in touchdowns to this point, the notion would be received differently. Right now the Patriots have shuttled in Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead for a combined 185 yards rushing to keep defenses honest. Wes Welker (15 rec. 241 yds) and Deion Branch (15 rec. 222yds) are on torrid paces along with their championship caliber quarterback. Each would finish with 1,700 yard seasons which has never been done before by teammates. So Buffalo and New England are #1 and #2 in scoring so far this season.

Yet with all that scoring must come a foil. The New York Jets are the team that is playing the tortoise to New England and Buffalo’s hare and come in having given up the second fewest points in the NFL yielding just 27. They come in with the league’s #8 defense after two weeks and are a slow methodical team. Mark Sanchez’s statistics aren’t up with his division rivals with 4TDs and 3 interceptions but two of those came in a meaningless 32-3 win over Jacksonville. However this team has to stop relying on the defense to hold everyone down until the offense can find a way into the game. Surprisingly Shonn Greene has only 71 yards rushing so far. However this is their recipe for winning. Its the 11 tackles by Bart Scott, 9 by David “Hitman” Harris, and 9 by S Eric Smith that is forcing punts. Once opponents pass into the secondary Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie  are waiting where they have 1 and 2 interceptions respectively. So yes they too are 2-0.

The first thing that jumps out at us about the Miami Dolphins is the top 3 tacklers from this team are all in the secondary. They have to run the football better and keep teams off the field. Everyone is dissecting that 517 yard performance that Brady put on them in week 1. Its a good thing that we are in the digital age or that film would definitely snap from overuse. Although this team’s stats were distorted by the Patriot game. They held a potent Houston team to just 23 points in their second loss of the season. They need a strong running presence, Henne can’t do it on his arm yet. The Dolphins will win some games this year they just ran into two strong teams in the first few weeks. However they need to work on being dead last in defense. Go to the running game.

Well one of these 2-0 teams has to lose when the Patriots travel to Orchard Park this Sunday. Its at this point our CEO (Buffalo fan) comes in the room and plays a disc of Dick Vermeil describing his ’99 Rams. “When you get a group of talented athletes without a distorted ego and they really start believing. You have something special.” To us, it did resonate and made us think long and hard about this Buffalo team. They are literally coming from out of nowhere and much like that ’99 Ram team had to learn how to win on the fly. Their most important game?? When they were 3-0, they had to take on the San Francisco 49ers who were the dominant team in the division, and had beaten them 17 straight times.  Once they won there the sky was the limit. Buffalo has lost 15 straight to New England. Its going to be loud in Ralph Wilson Stadium. Don’t forget the Patriots did give up 24 points to the Dolphins on their last road trip and do not miss this fact: The Patriots are ranked 31st in defense and the Bills are coming into this game with the NFL’s #1 rushing attack with 189 yards per game. Food for thought.

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