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NFL Week 3: Previewing the AFC East Matchups

Buffalo @ New York Jets

NFL Week 3 is upon us and for the third straight week, the schedule calls for a matchup between AFC East teams with the New York Jets squaring off with the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium.

The Jets are coming off a road loss to the New England Patriots last Thursday, and they’ll be well rested with a nine-day break as they get set to battle a Bills team coming off a last-minute victory in Week 2.

Both teams feature rookie quarterbacks and 1-1 records, and the biggest storyline to watch in this game is the inaugural face-off between Jets head coach Rex Ryan and Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

Pettine was Ryan’s defensive coordinator from 2009 to 2012, and was something of a protégé to Ryan going back to his Baltimore Ravens days. Now, the two have gone their separate ways, with Ryan once again taking over the reigns of the Jets defense, and Pettine getting a chance to make a name for himself and get out of Ryan’s shadow.

The two coaches have similar styles on defense, as Ryan has taught Pettine a great deal of what Pettine knows. But not everything that Ryan knows. Each of them now gets a chance to set the tone on defense, and for the first time, they’ll be opposite sidelines. It should be a fun little chess match.

Atlanta @ Miami

Though it’s early, the Miami Dolphins have certainly looked like the best team in the AFC East so far, with the Patriots scuffling their way to low-scoring (by their standards) victories over the Bills and Jets to start the year.

The Dolphins are 2-0 as well, and they’re actually favored against the Atlanta Falcons this week, which may raise a few eyebrows but might not be all that surprising. The key at the time of this writing is the health of Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who has played well but has been limited in practice this week with a shoulder injury.

The Falcons will be without starting running back Steven Jackson and linebacker Sean Witherspoon, and the Dolphins may have the defensive back depth needed to take on the Falcons’ multitude of weapons in the passing game. It’s an intriguing matchup on paper, and it should be a good test for a Dolphins team looking to prove they’re for real.

Tampa Bay @ New England

Finally, the perennial AFC East favorite Patriots will look to keep their perfect record in tact against a struggling Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that suffered brutal last-second losses in each of their first two games. With a lot of turmoil surrounding the Bucs right now, it would seem to be a monumental task to knock off the Patriots at home.

Stranger things have happened in the NFL, and the Bucs’ defense is an impressive unit, but they’ll need a lot more from their anemic offense if they want to go toe-to-toe with Tom Brady and company. The Patriots will focus their defensive efforts on stopping Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin and forcing embattled quarterback Josh Freeman to beat them.

Barring a tie in the Bills/Jets game (and again, this is the NFL, so who knows) we probably won’t see the AFC East go undefeated in Week 3. There is, however, a realistic shot at three teams winning this week, which means a tight division (for now) will stay tight, at least for another week.

 

Jon Presser is the lead host of NGN’s New York Jets podcast, “Press Coverage: Jets Talk with Jon Presser,” live every Tuesday at 7:30 pm ET. Follow “Press Coverage” on Twitter: @PressCoverNYJ

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