It’s been good to be a Patriots fan over the last decade. They’ve won eight division titles in that span and haven’t had that much competition at the top of the division. The Bills haven’t won double-digit games since 1999 and have only finished above .500 in one season in that same time frame. Miami’s been slightly better. They’ve had three seasons with double-digit wins, including a division title back in 2008. Unfortunately Chad Pennington was their quarterback and his pop-gun arm got demolished by the Ravens in their first playoff game that year. The Patriots are still waiting for both those teams to be a consistent threat to their high perch.
Then you have the Jets, who win on the back page, but don’t always win on the field. They’ve had a better run than Buffalo and Miami since the Patriots took over the division. They won the division back in 2002, finished runner-up four other times, and have managed to win their share of playoff games, including a 2010 victory in New England. The Jets, however, are trending downward at a prolific pace. Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow are getting all the press this week, but it’s really more the fault of Rex Ryan and specifically general manager Mike Tannenbaum.
Who have the Jets drafted in the last five years that is any good? It’s probably too early to critique this past year’s draft, but none of their rookies are impact players right now. Muhammad Wilkerson of their 2011 draft, has been a decent defensive tackle, but he hasn’t shown first round ability on a consistent basis. Jeremy Kerley, also of 2011, is a decent #2 or #3 receiver, but he can’t be expected to carry a receiving core. Kyle Wilson was drafted in 2010 to further strengthen their secondary, but he’s faltered for three straight years. Vladimir Ducasse was a waste of a second round pick in 2010 because he can’t block anyone. The 2009 deaft brought Mark Sanchez, who will save from criticism. The Vernon Gholston experiment occurred in 2008 and we all know what happened there.
Free agency wasn’t any kinder to the Jets. They haven’t struck gold in the free agent market either. They’ve done reasonably well with Antonio Cromartie, but they would’ve been better off using that money on a pass rush. Santonio Holmes hasn’t delivered on his big contract. They haven’t invested in a running back for their famed “ground and pound” offense. They probably should’ve never let Braylon Edwards go and haven’t found a tall receiver to replace him since. Laron Landry is probably their best signing and he’s only been around for half a season and has holes in his game.
I’m not saying that Mark Sanchez doesn’t suck or Tim Tebow is Peyton Manning, but these guys at least need some help. The organization has let the fan base down by not bringing in enough talent. Mark Sanchez isn’t both the quarterback and talent evaluator here.
Survivor Pick of the Week:
DALLAS over Kansas City
There were plenty of survivor pool contestants who found out their pool’s rules the hard way last weekend. You see, the team you pick actually has to win its game as opposed to just not losing. That message was sent loud and clear after San Francisco only managed a tie against St. Louis. In the words of the immortal Al Davis, "just win, baby!"
This week presents a few decent options, but you've likely already used the best ones. Houston will kill Jacksonville at home. Arizona will continue their losing ways when they face Atlanta in the Georgia Dome. New England should be able to calm the Andrew Luck hype train and Indianapolis for one week despite their continued terrible effort in the secondary. That leaves you with two options: Peyton Manning's suddenly unstoppable Denver squad against San Diego or the possibly resurgent Dallas vs. Cleveland. It's possible to get wrapped up in what Denver has been doing lately, but I'm steering clear of a potentially powerful San Diego offensive effort.
That leaves you trusting Tony Romo and the Cowboys, which I'm sure is nothing you can get too excited about. Maybe my NFC East bias is pushing me towards this decision, but I'd rather deal with what I see as a major advantage in talent. Dallas has had some problems in the secondary this year, but Cleveland doesn't have the weapons to necessarily expose that. The Cowboys are also feeling more confident after a strong performance in Philadelphia last week. They can sniff a divisional race with the Giants only two wins ahead. Cleveland is 16th in the league in sacks, so they shouldn't pose much of a threat to Dallas' weak offensive line.
Thursday Night Pick:
Miami +1.5 over Buffalo
It's amazing how much difference a week makes. Just last week the Dolphins were a frisky bunch laying almost a touchdown at home while the Bills sat as double-digit dogs to the Patriots. Miami laid an egg, Buffalo took advantage of a bad New England secondary to make their game close, and all of a sudden Buffalo is favored in this spot. I know our culture is reactionary, but his is kind of ridiculous. The Dolphins didn't lose any players last week to injury, so why are they considered that much worse than last week? They're a young team who's allowed to lay an egg every so often.
The Dolphins didn't have the best game against the run last week, but they're still only allowing 94.2 rushing yards a game, 5th best in the league. That should calm some of the excitement for C.J. Spiller taking over a majority of Buffalo's carries with Fred Jackson out. Buffalo on the other hand is last in the league against the run, 21st in the league against the pass, and last in the league in points allowed. Points are at a premium in these Thursday night games and having a terrible defense really doesn't help your case.
Last Week: 7-7