This should be interesting.
A Tale of Two Defensive Looks
I'd be lying if I said I like this matchup. I really did like it until multiple players from our defensive line were declared questionable at best. The Jets will likely be missing players from the front seven one week after getting out of the bottom 5 rankings of rushing defense, climbing to a year-high of 25th. For what it is worth, Rex said if he had to decide yesterday that Ellis and Devito wouldn't be playing Sunday.
Usually my previews underline similar themes; Mark Sanchez needs to thread the needle, Plaxico Burress and Dustin Keller need to get open, Schotty needs to not be so cute in play calling, etc. That's all pretty much out the window this week. Even against a banged up softer defense like that of the Bills, I expect very little from our 29th ranked offense (only the Colts, Seahawks, and Jaguars offensive units are consistently performing worse than us on that side of the ball). Like most of our games, we need our defense composed of two unique and sharply different sub-units to win this.
The front seven is hurt, and even before they were, the run defense is nothing short of disgusting. Not the week you want to face Fred Jackson. On the flip side, Jets have one of the consistently best secondaries in the league and a defensive genius coach. Ryan Fitzpatrick almost always passes out of 4+ receiver sets, and usually for less than five yards. His average completion is 7.8 and he's outperformed Sanchez to be fair, but my point is he's passing short. By all accounts he should have a horrible game, but those short passes to TE's and check downs are a huge weakness of the Jets D.
Stopping Jackson dead in his tracks and defending well against the short pass will make this a certain victory, but it hinges entirely on the safeties and linebackers showing up in a way they have yet to do. I think both offenses will largely fail, which should instantly favor the Jets.
Full breakdown and game keys after the Rundown and the jump. Drop your thoughts, concerns, and predictions below.
New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills -- Sunday, Nov. 6th, 1:00 p.m. EST
Location: Ralph Wilson Stadium, Orchard Park, NY.
Coverage: CBS. DirecTV 704. Sirius XM112.
Record: Bills lead the all-time series 53-47 but Jets have won 5 of the last 6 including 3 straight victories on the road.
What happened last time? Jets crushed a very different looking Bills team, 38-7.
Jets Questionable: Isaiah Trufant (CB) Hamstring, Mike Devito (DT) Knee, Kenrick Ellis (DT) Ankle, Plaxico Burress (WR) Low back.
Bills Out: Demetrius Bell (T) Shoulder, Kyle Williams (DT) Foot, Aaron Williams (CB) Chest. Questionable: Chris Hairston (T) Ankle, Chris Kelsay (LB) Calf.
Offense: The Jets are 29th in overall offense, 11th in points, 22nd in passing and 28th in rushing. Buffalo is 10th in yards, 3rd in points, 13th passing and 5th in rushing. If that looks intimidating, consider that in most ways the Chargers were ranked higher two weeks ago and the Jets did fine.
Defense: The Jets are 8th overall, 7th against the pass, and 25th against the rush. Buffalo is 26th overall, 24th against the pass, and 20th against the run.
Buffalo Bill to watch: RB Fred Jackson
The game centers almost entirely around how effectively the Jets defense handles Jackson. You can bet that Gailey will be running it as hard as he can at the Jets statistically weak rushing defense. The possible to probable absence of Mike Devito and Kenrick Ellis is disturbing. The immense success the Bills have experienced on the ground is largely responsible for the accomplishments of the predictable, widely spread out, and overrated pass offense.
The plus side is that the Bills spread-out approach will greatly weaken their blocking abilities. This is good for us, because most players on defense will have their hands full with assignments. This brings us to our X factor.
Jets X-factor: Bart Scott
Expect the Safeties to have their hands full playing coverage or clean up all game long. The secondary will have its hands full and likely won't be able to sell out against the run barring a total implosion by the Bills passing offense. Linebackers David Harris and Josh Mauga aren't very good against coverage, but they're the best we have in the front seven rotation and I'm willing to bet their attention gets allocated to tight ends and other extra options that the Bills love to run.
I think Bart Scott, usually more of a spiritual leader in my opinion, who often is responsible for corralling running backs and other players into tackles, will have to pick up the slack this week. Scott is physical and will be the last line of defense against huge run break offs when the line fails. I view Scott's presence as more crucial this week than most others. We need Bart to show up and kill any runs down the middle in progress.
Potential MVP: Shonn Greene
You know how every week I say this isn't the week for us to establish our running game? Well, this is the week to establish our running game. The Bills aren't very good across the board on defense, something our bottom ranked offense deeply needs right now. The absence of DT Kyle Williams will only make the weak rush defense weaker.
Everything here has the makings of a break out rushing game. A good match-up, well rested players, an improving O line and a back with everything to prove. Greene is dying to prove to the world he's a number one back. Meanwhile Joe McKnight and LaDainian Tomlinson figure to be part of a rotation that I expect will keep running it down the Bills throat all night long. If Greene is successful, we will win.
Prediction: Jets 20 Bills 17
I think this will be a close fought game. The Bills are not to be taken for granted anymore. I expect both passing offenses to under-perform, while the two teams use dueling running games, so to speak. The Jets superior defense should make this a very winnable game.