The 4-4 Buffalo Bills travel to MetLife Stadium on Thursday night to face the 5-3 New York Jets. The outcome of this game will have a major impact on the AFC Wild Card picture, let’s take a closer look at what the Jets will need to do to get a win
Offense – Looking at Ryan Fitzpatrick’s stats when he faced Rex Ryan’s defense as Buffalo’s QB, he had up and down games…games ranging from 0 touchdowns and 3 interceptions to 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Fitzpatrick never had the weapons that he had in Buffalo that he has now here with the Jets. The Jets must contain the Bills’ top two pass rushers in Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes. I expect Fitzpatrick to throw some early slants and curls, some quick routes to keep the pass rushers guessing. Ryan loves to use some exotic blitz packages and Fitzpatrick needs to be able to read and analyze these schemes and change the play if needed.
Looking at the Bills secondary, the Jets may target rookie Ronald Darby or slot corner Nickell Robey. Stephon Gilmore will be on Brandon Marshall and in passing situations and look for a safety to shadow Marshall. I wonder if this is the game the Jets will try to get the ball to Devin Smith in a few different ways. The Jets will look to get the running game going tonight but that may be hard to do. Chris Ivory has had a tough few weeks running the ball. The offensive line took a blow with putting guard Willie Colon on injured reserve for the rest of the season. Brian Winters will take his spot for the rest of the season.
Defense – For the last few weeks, the Jets defense has not looked great. Buster Skrine and Antonio Cromartie have been beat left and right for big gains. With the thigh injury to Cromartie, Marcus Williams will need to step up tonight. Also with the injuries to Calvin Pryor and Dion Bailey, Rontez Miles will get the start next to Marcus Gilchrist at safety. Bills QB Tyrod Taylor in his last two starts, both wins, has only had to throw the ball an average of 14 times. The Jets must stop the running game led by LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams. The Jets need to set the edge and force McCoy back inside and need to watch out for the cutback lanes.
The main threats in the Bills passing game center around Sammy Watkins and TE Charles Clay. Clay leads the Bills in receiving yards and has developed nice chemistry with Taylor. Sammy Watkins is a concern for me, although he has had a rough start to the season, he is starting to warm up. Look for Darrelle Revis to be on him for most of the game. Dee Milliner was activated this week and it will be interesting to see how they use him. I can see the Jets using Milliner in dime and nickle packages. This defensive line needs to cause havoc early and often, I expect Leonard Williams to have a big night tonight.
Prediction – A divisional game between two opponents that will go a long way in deciding which team will have a strong shot at making the playoffs. However, this game is MUCH more than just that. The Jets welcome back Rex Ryan, a head coach who got them to back to back AFC Championship games in his first two years. After that, it was not the same. The last 4 years were filled with many poor coaching decisions, drafts in which Rex had too much of a say, penalties, turnovers, no halftime adjustments and just bad football. Rex should of been fired with Mike Tannenbaum was let go.
Rex did some good things while he was here but it was time for him to go 2 years ago. This game is going to come down to the 4th quarter and who is going to have the turnover, the costly penalty or the shanked punt. I feel that from a coaching perspective the Jets have the advantage in this game and that is going to be the deciding factor. Look for Fitzpatrick to throw for 2 TDs tonight and a late 4th quarter drive leading to new kicker Randy Bullock hitting a FG to be the deciding factor. The Bills will be 4-5 and the Jets will be 6-3 heading into a mini bye week. Jets 24 Bills 21