Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 15:
Santonio Holmes can wipe out his droptastic game with a successful homecoming. Holmes committed one of the worst gaffes of the season when he wasted a perfectly thrown Mark Sanchez pass in the left corner of the end zone against the Dolphins last week. Holmes can erase that memory and help the Jets move on from two weeks of turmoil with a big game Sunday against his old team. The Steelers traded the Super Bowl MVP for a fifth-round draft pick because they were tired of dealing with him at a time when Ben Roethlisberger was embarrassing the organization, too. Holmes had been suspended four games for violating the NFL's drug policy. But he still felt betrayed to be dumped. "It's been on my mind for quite some time, and I just never let it play a factor until now," Holmes said. "Now is the time to get a chance to play against these guys. I spent four years there. It's definitely time to show these guys 'Why let me go?' "
Brains are working overtime to find a formula to beat the Patriots. In this week's "Hot Read" feature, ESPN.com senior writer Greg Garber explores how the seemingly invincible Patriots can be beaten. The formula looks simple:
Harass or confuse Tom Brady into making mistakes.
Win the turnover battle.
Run the ball effectively to limit Patriots possessions.
Score enough points against a middling defense.
"That's the magic formula," ESPN analyst and former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi told Garber with a laugh. "Easier said than done." ESPN Insider contributor KC Joyner also tried to crack the Patriots' offensive code with some suggestions for the Packers on Sunday. He advises them to get Wes Welker into traffic, put cover corner Tramon Williams on Deion Branch and defend rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez like a receiver.
Don't worry about Cameron Wake not being higher in the Pro Bowl voting. I've noticed some resentment from South Florida regarding Wake's lack of Pro Bowl votes among outside linebackers. He entered the week fifth behind James Harrison, Terrell Suggs, LaMarr Woodley and Shaun Phillips. Fret not, Dolfans. Wake not only will make the roster, but he will generate attention for the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year. Wake leads the league with 14 sacks and should add to his total Sunday against the Bills. There's no denying his impact.
Thanks to Sal Alosi's bad trip, Brian Schottenheimer has avoided the spotlight this week. The controversy Alosi kicked up with his trip of Dolphins gunner Nolan Carroll eclipsed the aggravation Jets fans have developed with Schottenheimer. Jets head coach Rex Ryan was subjected to chants to fire Schottenheimer as offensive coordinator after losing back-to-back games without a touchdown. Not only has Sanchez crumbled, but the run game also has disappeared. Schottenheimer owned up Thursday at a news conference. "Overall I'm in charge of the offense," Schottenheimer said. "I take a lot of pride in that. I take a lot of pride in my job. I take a lot of pride in our unit, and we're not playing very well. It's my job to put the players in position to make plays. It's my job along with the staff to get them to do the fundamentals right."
If Ryan Fitzpatrick can remain upright Sunday, then the Bills will have a chance. The Bills' offensive line is in rough shape and is about to face one of the NFL's stingiest teams. The Dolphins rank fifth in total defense, seventh in run defense and sixth in pass defense. Fitzpatrick has shown he can make good decisions. Despite the Bills' record and the fact they're often playing from behind, Fitzpatrick has thrown 21 touchdown passes and only 11 interceptions. But he won't have receiver Lee Evans to loosen up coverages, and will face a pass rush that registered six sacks against of the Jets, who own one of the NFL's better offensive lines. Wake will be matched up against Mansfield Wrotto, a third-year pro who was out of work until October.