Where Each Team Is
roller coaster bumper car season continues with the old cliche of the scrappy middled team playing up and down to their superior and inferior opponents, respectively. The Jets are the embodiment of the "Any Given Sunday" moniker frequently assigned to teams that you just can't discount completely. Perhaps most important is that the Jets survived that first half of a schedule more brutal than the wrath of a thousand ex-girlfriends with a winning record, and continue on after a bye week to the second half of their schedule, which is (on paper, anyway) about as hard as the Snuggles bear.
The 3-7 Buffalo Bills are one loss away from virtual elimination and must win out. Even if the Bills DID win out they would still need the help of six or seven teams. Unless E.J. Manuel is suddenly exposed to gamma radiation and the rest of the AFC simultaneously visits rural Honduras and drinks the water, I just don't see a historic run happening. The Jets will leave Orchard Park with either a four or two game lead on Buffalo.
Random Fact: Vinny Testaverde is about as relevant an NFL player as I can falsely attribute sayings and behaviors to and still not get sued.
Sister Site: Buffalo Rumblings
Location: Ralph Wilson Stadium, Orchard Park, NY.
Field: Open air, Synthetic Turf.
Weather: Windy with a chance of rain, high of 63 degrees Fahrenheit.
Record: Buffalo leads the all-time series 55-49-0.
Who is favored? Opening line had the Bills favored but injury woes and other betting concerns now have the Jets favored by 1.
Random Fact: Buffalo smells likes chicken, polluted lakes, state college students, and broken dreams in a melting pot of stench.
(Players designated "Probable" status are omitted)
Random Fact: If you have 3 quarter, 2 dimes, 5 nickels, and 10 pennies; you can't afford a date with me.
Jets: On offense the Jets are 28th in points, 17th in overall yardage per game, 26th in passing and 9th on the ground. The Jets are a bottom five scoring team and have been one of the most consistently poor scorers all year. Overall, passing is not a strength of the Jets and their production is far below average.
The Jets defense is another mixed bag. The Jets are 22nd in points allowed, 8th in total yards allowed, 24th against the pass and 1st against the run. The Jets have been one of the hardest teams to run against all season and now their rankings on defense reflects that.
The Jets are shaping up to be a poor team in the air and with scoring, both on offense and defense.
Bills: On offense the Bills are 24th in points scored, 16th in total yardage, 29th in pass yards and 7th in rushing yards. Working in the Jets favor is that no matter who the Bills start in QB roulette, they are a very poor passing team.
Defensively the Bills are below average across the board. On defense, the Bills are 24th in points allowed, 19th in overall yards allowed, 17th in passing yards allowed, and 22nd against the run. The Bills are relatively weak across the board on defense, and Geno Smith should be able to lead a roster than can exploit these weaknesses.
AP Pro ranking has the Jets ranked 12th and the Bills ranked 27th.
Random Fact: A "Bill" is a term for a male Bison, a majestic creature that roamed the American countryside before we killed them all. The NFL commemorates the slaughtering of the Bills every year for 16 weeks. (Submit your random facts to @JeffreyJParks on Twitter or via email, or just post them in the Thread About Nothing for a chance to win prizes I'll probably never send you. This weeks prizes are a Jets t-shirt with the emblem worn off, and a used cotton swab I think kind of looks like Henry Kissinger.)
Attacking the Bills
The Bills defense doesn't really stand strong anywhere, but fortunately for the Jets Buffalo's weakest showing is against the run. This sets up nicely for a timeshare attack featuring Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell wearing down the offense and opening up the field for Geno Smith to make some plays. Expect a mixed attack that leans on the run but gives Geno some chances to make plays as well.
The Jets look to regain several receiving options this week, and the Bills secondary is ideal enough to test these weapons. The Jets have the potential to make a statement on offense this week.
The Jets front seven is one of the most critical component this week as the Bills very limited success this year has almost entirely come from running backs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. The 7th best running offense will take on the very best rushing defense in the NFL. Muhammad Wilkerson, Damon Harrison, and Sheldon Richardson deliver in almost every game. Kenrick Ellis and Leger Douzable are no slouches on the line. Quinton Coples looks like he may be finally finding his groove in the 2013-14 season.
The greater concern(s) are the players behind them. Historically under-performing positions for the Jets like linebacker and safety MUST make tackles in the open field. Demario Davis, David Harris, and Calvin Pace have looked better while reaping the benefits of playing behind a Karl Dunbar coached defensive line. Antonio Allen, Dawan Landry, Jaiquawn Jarrett, and new addition Ed Reed must be strong in the box and in coverage. If the Jets can contain Jackson and Spiller, Manuel will almost certainly be unable to keep pace with his limited targets.
Bills to Watch
Kyle Williams is a solid player at the point of attack, he and DT Marcell Dareus have 5 sacks a piece, and on the edge Mario Williams is starting to live up to his big money contract with 11 sacks on the season so far. Second round draft pick Kiko Alonso has been a turnover machine and disruptive in the backfield. Safeties Aaron Williams and former Jet Jim Leonhard have 3 interceptions a piece. Leodis McKelvin and Stephon Gilmore lead a pretty weak secondary that Geno Smith easily exploited last time.
In half as many games, Thad Lewis has statistically outplayed EJ Manuel, who will get the start on Sunday. If Manuel struggles greatly it is possible although not overly likely to see Lewis relieve him. I personally prefer the raw Manuel even if he does have more upside.
CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson are pretty much the only Bills you are likely to hear the names of regularly on Sunday. With Woods and Johnson ailing, only third round rookie Marquise Goodwin and TE Scott Chandler are scoring threats through the air, and that's being kind of generous. Marcus Easley and T.J. Graham are listed atop the Bills depth chart in the absence of Woods and Johnson, and they have 18 receptions for just over 200 yards between them on the entire year with no scores.
Bro's Bottom Line
I said this earlier in the week on GGN Live, but the NFL will find out who the Jets are in Orchard Park on Sunday. Either the Jets will be the textbook definition of mediocre and fluctuate week to week regardless of opponent, or the Jets will sweep the Bills and start the first streak of the year, establishing themselves as an above average team and playoff contender.
This is a game you have to win if you want to be relevant for the remainder of the season. Losing would certainly not be the end of the team in a year of great parity in the NFL, but if the Jets cannot take advantage of the Bills precarious roster situation, then they have no place among the contenders in the NFL. No matter how banged up the Bills are, no game is a "gimme" when you're talking the NY Jets. Gang Green absolutely has something to prove against the fledgling Bills.
J!-E!-T!-S! JETS! JETS! JETS!!!
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