Audibles: AFC East Week 9 preview

Posted by ESPN Research's Jeremy Lundblad

New York Jets (4-3) at Buffalo Bills (5-2), 1 p.m. ET

The Jets travel to Buffalo for what will be the Bills' first division home game of the season. The Bills haven't waited this long to host a divisional foe since 1998.

So while the Bills are sitting pretty at 5-2, they have lost their only AFC East game (Week 8 at Miami). While certainly not a must-win game, avoiding an 0-2 division record could be key to the Bills' playoff hopes.

The Bills have won their last three meetings with the Jets, and are 2-0 with Trent Edwards at the helm. Edwards will be without his second-favorite target wide receiver Josh Reed (Achilles/ankle injury) who is out indefinitely.

The Jets faced weak opponents in their previous three games, but struggled to beat the Bengals and Chiefs, while losing to the Raiders.

Brett Favre needs a turnaround game. He has thrown seven interceptions in his past three games against teams with a combined record of 3-19. Considering the Jets won 2 of 3 games in spite of those turnovers is a tribute to Favre's ability in the clutch.

Statistically, the Bills are one of the best pass defenses Favre has seen all season. However, Buffalo was torched by Ted Ginn Jr. (career-high 175 yards) and the Dolphins last week.
The Jets' fourth-ranked run defense will likely be without linebacker David Harris, who is battling a pulled groin.

Miami Dolphins (3-4) at Denver Broncos (4-3), 4:05 p.m. ET

The Dolphins are in last place. The Broncos are in first. Yet their records are only one game apart.

For all of the hype surrounding Miami's "Wildcat" formation, the Dolphins rank 21st in the NFL in rushing. Since unveiling it against the Patriots in Week 3, the Dolphins rushing totals have decreased every week, as opponents became better prepared. Last week against the Bills, Miami netted only 52 rushing yards.

Enter the Broncos defense, which ranks near the bottom of the NFL in almost everything. Denver's run defense is particularly bad, ranking 31st out of 32 teams and coming off a Week 7 debacle against the Patriots. In other words, look for the Dolphins running back tandem of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams to come out strong.

If the Dolphins defense can slow the Broncos' air attack - no easy task - Miami can win this. Chad Pennington has proven that he can keep the Dolphins in any game. He garnered AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors for his 300-plus yard performance against the Bills last week.

At 3-4, the Dolphins are only two games back of the division lead, and they are the only AFC East team with a winning divisional record. The Broncos are the second straight division leader that the Dolphins have faced.

New England Patriots (5-2) at Indianapolis Colts (3-4), 8:15 p.m. ET

Of the AFC's "final four" from last year's playoffs, only one team has a winning record. Who'd have thought it would be the team that lost the NFL MVP in Week 1?

Tied for the division lead at 5-2, the Patriots have to be content with their position given all of the setbacks they have endured. Contrast that with the Colts, who sit at 3-4 after consecutive road losses.

With Tom Brady at the helm, the Patriots were 3-0 in regular-season games in Indianapolis. But now it's Matt Cassel's turn to duel with Peyton Manning.

Coming off his first career fourth-quarter comeback in a Week 8 victory over the visiting Rams, Cassel still needs to prove himself on the road. In three games away from Foxborough, Mass., Cassel has a 74.1 passer rating with only one touchdown pass and three interceptions. His job won't get any easier against a Colts pass defense that ranks second in the NFL.

The game might come down to the effectiveness of the Patriots running back corps. Despite all of the injuries, the New England ground game has been a key to its success. LaMont Jordan (calf) is expected back, while it appears Sammy Morris (knee) will not be ready to go. The Colts allow an average of 144.1 rushing yards per game, tied for 26th in the NFL.