The AFC East had a resilient Week 6 as all three divisional teams in action Sunday posted victories of four points or less with two coming from behind to post victories. The Jets have sprinted out to an early division lead adding a come from behind win at Denver Sunday, with a pristine division record to boot. New England stayed half a game back with a big overtime win against Buffalo's next opponent, Baltimore. And the Dolphins climbed back into the race after two straight losses with an overtime win at Lambeau. Buffalo of course was idle. Obviously a lot can change between now and the end of the season with 11 games to play, but here's how things shake out at this point.
New York JetsRecord:5-1
Pluses:Many thought the Jets' offense would be playing catch up with the New York defense, but going into Sunday's action, the Jets were the number one rushing team in football, thanks mainly to a rejuvenated LaDainian Tomlinson, who after two years of battling injuries, is looking awfully spry for New York. He had another pair of touchdowns in the tightly contested road win at Denver (24-20), as he gets good complementary support from Shonn Greene. Santonio Holmes is still trying to blend in after missing the first four games on suspension, but is an additional dynamic weapon for Mark Sanchez.
Minuses:The loss of NT Kris Jenkins for the year certainly hurts and Darrelle Revis' lingering hamstring injury is leading to some concern about the Jets' lockdown cornerback contingent. New York ranks a surprising 26th in third down defense and that has to change. After just one turnover through the first five games this season, the Jets got careless Sunday and it almost cost them with three giveaways.
Schedule:After a tough early slate, New York hosts an injury-riddled Green Bay side, followed by road dates with Detroit and Cleveland. Not exactly a murderer's row.
New England PatriotsRecord:4-1
Pluses:With Tom Brady performing like Tom Brady, New England always has a chance. The Patriots' QB did not have one of his best days Sunday, but he was instrumental in helping New England overcome a 10-point fourth quarter deficit to beat Baltimore in overtime. The Patriots lead the league in third down conversions and in points per game. Rookie tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez have been instant impact performers in the passing game. Their special teams have also been among the league's best thanks in large part to the emergence of kick returner Brandon Tate.
Minuses:The trade of Randy Moss left some scratching their heads and though Deion Branch was re-acquired to help fill the void, it's not going to be the same. Still, he made an instant impact with nine catches including a touchdown reception in the overtime win over Baltimore. New England's running back corps has also been thinned considerably by injuries, and their defense is the worst in the league at getting off the field on third down (32nd) allowing opponents to convert almost 55 percent of the time.
Schedule:The Patriots have a road date at San Diego before hosting Minnesota. Then its back-to-back road dates at Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
Pluses:Brandon Marshall has given the Miami offense a vertical threat and ranked in the top 10 in receiving yards heading into Sunday's games. He only added to his season totals with a 10-catch 127-yard performance in their win at Lambeau over the Packers. The Dolphins are still the best team in the division in converting red zone opportunities into touchdowns, punching it in better than 62 percent of the time to rank 7th in the NFL. Cameron Wake is emerging as a dominant pass rushing threat, coming off a three sack performance at Green Bay.
Minuses:The Dolphins despite some strides in the passing game have been struggling mightily to put points on the board. Even with their 23 points at Green Bay, through the first five games they've scored just 89 points (17.8 ppg). Miami has had trouble stopping the run where they rank 21st and are 24th in points allowed, but they were better against the Packers allowing just 76 yards on the ground. Not helping the cause is special teams with the team ranking dead last in kickoff coverage, 23rd on kick return and 31st in net punting average.
Schedule:Miami will be busy with the AFC North the next three weeks as they host Pittsburgh followed by road tilts at Cincinnati and Baltimore before hosting Tennessee.
Pluses:The passing game has improved since Ryan Fitzpatrick was inserted into the starting lineup and the run game has increased its yards per carry average with Fred Jackson now the lead back as Buffalo ranks fourth in the league in yards per carry (4.8). The Bills have also boosted their points per game average considerably of late. In their first two games they averaged 8.5 points per game, and in their last three outings have averaged more than 23 (23.3).
Minuses:Stopping the run has been the team's Achilles heel thus far this season with the Bills surrendering more than 180 yards on the ground per game (182.4). That in turn has made it very difficult for the defense to get off the field on third down. Consistent pass pressure has been absent reducing opportunities for takeaways.
Schedule:The Bills have a pair of road games at Baltimore and Kansas City before hosting two NFC North teams, Chicago (in Toronto) and Detroit (Orchard Park).