Let’s take a look at whose stock is rising and falling in the AFC East.
1. Sean Smith, Miami Dolphins cornerback: Miami’s No. 1 corner played easily his worst game of the season. Smith is having a good season overall but did not come to play in a 23-20 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Smith was beat on two touchdown passes to Colts receiver Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton. Smith had a chance to redeem himself but dropped an easy interception late in the fourth quarter. Smith is capable of playing much better.
2. Chan Gailey, Buffalo Bills coach: When the Bills are not performing offensively, that’s on Gailey. He is the head coach and de facto offensive coordinator. Gailey is doing some head-scratching things like not giving tailback C.J. Spiller the ball and going 0-for-3 in the red zone in a loss to the Houston Texans. Buffalo entered Week 9 third in rushing but had a pass-to-run ratio Sunday of 38 to 16. Gailey had the bye week to determine what the Bills do well and focus on it. But that wasn’t the case against Houston.
3. Jake Long, Dolphins left tackle: It’s been a while since Long has been the elite player who consistently dominated defensive ends. After battling through injuries, Long hasn't been the same the past couple of seasons. Long remains a good left tackle. But he’s not a sure thing on the blind side for Miami. Long struggled against the Colts with pass blocking and penalties.
1. New England Patriots: Yes, the Patriots were big winners during the bye week. Not only did New England improve its roster by acquiring talented cornerback Aqib Talib at the trade deadline, but the Patriots created distance in the AFC East without playing. New England (5-3) sat home and got healthy while the Dolphins (4-4) and Bills (3-5) suffered losses. It’s only midseason but the AFC East is pretty much New England’s to lose. It was a productive bye week for the Patriots.
2. Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins quarterback: Tannehill got into an exciting shootout with Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck and nearly came out on top. Tannehill threw for 290 yards and a touchdown on the road. Tannehill can make all the throws. He also showed toughness by taking some big hits and playing through a left knee and quad injury. The future looks bright if the Dolphins can keep building around their young gunslinger.
3. Mario Williams, Bills defensive end: Williams looked much better against his former team and after wrist surgery. Williams recorded a team-high seven tackles and a sack against Houston. The defensive end played motivated and looked healthy. Williams needs to play big in the second half of the season for Buffalo to turn things around.