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NFL Week 10: Previewing the AFC East Matchups

NFL Week 10 and it appears the doom and gloom surrounding Tom Brady and the New England Patriots has been greatly exaggerated.

I expected the Patriots to win their Week 9 game, but I didn’t quite expect a 55-point explosion and a temporary return to their days as an offensive juggernaut for New England. Talk about going into the bye week on a high note.’

The New York Jets, meanwhile, pulled off an enormous win of their own, knocking off the New Orleans Saints and keeping pace with New England in the AFC East. We talked about it at length on NGN’s “Press Coverage” podcast, and there’s no getting around it. It was a huge win for Rex Ryan and the Jets, who now enter their bye week as the sixth seed in the AFC playoff chase.

The Patriots and the Jets weren’t the only AFC East teams to get in the win column in Week 9, as the Miami Dolphins impressively knocked off the Cincinnati Bengals last Thursday night. The Buffalo Bills were not so lucky.

Here’s how the AFC East standings look entering Week 10:

New England Patriots — 7-2
New York Jets — 5-4
Miami Dolphins — 4-4
Buffalo Bills — 3-6

With the Jets and Patriots on the bye, let’s look ahead to the two AFC East matchups in Week 10:

 

Buffalo Bills at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1pm ET, Sunday

The Bills hung with the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs for awhile, but ultimately KC’s stifling defense got the better of them, and the Bills lost their second straight game and their fourth in five weeks. Now, they head to Pittsburgh to face a 2-6 Steelers team that just gave up a 50-burger to the Patriots last week.

That being said, you can never count out the Steelers. They were 0-4 when they beat the Jets in New York, something the Patriots and Saints were unable to do when they came to MetLife Stadium. It’s hard to believe that a Week 10 matchup between the Bills and Steelers would be a matchup of two teams each with six losses, but here we are.

The Steelers had no problems putting up points last week, but their defense couldn’t keep up with a revitalized Patriots passing attack. This week, they’ll likely be facing a rookie in EJ Manuel, who is expected to return to the lineup after missing four games with a knee injury. Buffalo’s two-headed rushing attack of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller should match up well with the Steelers’ 31st-ranked rush defense that’s given up over 130 rushing yards per game.

I expect it to be a close game, but a game that the Steelers should win on their home field. Neither of these teams are playoff contenders, but it’s still Week 10 of the NFL season, and there’s still going to be a lot of pride on the line. I think in the end, the veteran Steelers will find a way to win if they can keep Buffalo’s running game in check. If they can’t, it might be a long day for Pittsburgh.

 

Miami Dolphins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8:40 pm ET, Monday

Call it the “circus” bowl if you want, as these two dysfunctional Florida teams face off under the Monday night lights. The Bucs have not been able to get out of their own way this season, with an 0-8 record to prove it. Meanwhile, the Dolphins are still in the thick of the AFC playoff race, but are now dealing with the distractions of the developing situation involving two of their offensive linemen.

Neither Jonathan Martin or Richie Incognito will suit up for Miami this weekend, and your guess is as good as mine as to if/when they return. The bottom line is that the Dolphins will go into this game minus two of their starting linemen. The Bucs have a pretty solid front seven, so Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill better hope his makeshift protection holds up.

Even in repeated losing efforts, the Bucs have shown glimpses of positive steps forward in recent weeks, including the play of rookie quarterback Mike Glennon and rookie running back Mike James. Glennon, who took over the starting job in Week 4, had the best game of his young career last week in Seattle, and James rushed for 158 yards and even threw a touchdown on a trick play.

Miami is a better team, but I think Tampa Bay might be due to finally get off the schneid and into the win column. As a Jets fan, I would love to see the Jets gain a little bit of breathing room on their bye week with one of their AFC East rivals going down. Call it a gut feeling, or wishful thinking, but I think we’ll see the Buccaneers get their first win of the season Monday night.

 

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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