Here are some notes and observations for Week 12 in the AFC East:
It’s time to play the waiting game with Buffalo Bills receiver Steve Johnson. In Sunday's 28-24 loss to the New York Jets, Johnson celebrated a second-quarter touchdown by dancing and pretending to shoot himself in the leg. It was a tasteless mock of Jets receiver Plaxico Burress, who once shot himself in the leg and spent time in prison for the incident. Johnson seemed regretful about getting the excessive celebration penalty Sunday but not so much about mocking a fellow player in such a controversial manor. This should result in a fine for Johnson. But I don't think the NFL will suspend Johnson for any games.
A lot of credit goes to New York’s offensive line. The second half was probably the best two quarters I’ve seen the Jets’ offensive line put together this season. Buffalo‘s defense isn‘t very good but played decent in the first half. But the Jets’ offense took over the rest of the game. New York averaged six yards per rush and also gave Sanchez plenty of protection. He wasn’t sacked by Buffalo the entire game.
The wild card chase is heating up. The Jets (6-5) didn’t get much help as the Cincinnati Bengals (7-4), Denver Broncos (6-5) and Tennessee Titans (6-5) all won their games. It appears New York has to win at least four of its last five to get in. The Jets are down on several tiebreakers, including head to head and conference record.
I like the way Buffalo (5-6) played Sunday, but where was this desperate and hungry team the past three weeks? The Bills team we saw this past weekend may have had a chance against the Miami Dolphins or perhaps the Jets at home two weeks ago. Instead, Buffalo was blown out and only showed up when down to its last strike. This proves the Bills are still a young team with a lot of maturing to do. Buffalo is not at the point where it can just show up and beat teams. The Bills lost focus and attention to detail during their four-game losing streak and it most likely cost them a chance to make a late playoff run.
The New England Patriots might have cleared their biggest hurdle before the playoffs. I thought the Eagles in Philadelphia would be the toughest remaining opponent for New England. But the Patriots beat Philadelphia handily. With the Bills losing, New England essentially owns a three-game lead over the Jets because of the head-to-head tiebreaker. The division crown is basically in the bag. The only question is can New England stay hot enough to secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs?
No team likes moral victories. But the Dolphins (3-8) should be proud of their effort after nearly pulling off the biggest upset of their season against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. Dallas needed a last-second field goal at home to beat Miami. The Dolphins outplayed the hosting Cowboys for about three quarters. Miami won’t make the playoffs and could see some major changes in the organization after the season. But it doesn’t appear the Dolphins and embattled head coach Tony Sparano are ready to lay down without a fight. Miami will have several more opportunities to dash the hopes of other playoff hopefuls, starting next week against the Oakland Raiders (7-4).
I was surprised by the overwhelming results from Dolphins fans and AFC East readers last week. Fifty-two percent says Matt Moore has done enough to be the starting quarterback of the Dolphins next season. Only 27 percent said Moore shouldn't be the starter and 20 percent were undecided. Moore is under contract next year and has shown some good things. But I think he still has work to do, especially if there is a new coach next year. But Moore most likely earned the right to compete for the job in training camp.