Where Each Team Is
Both teams are 1-1 with rookie quarterbacks under center. Almost certainly all eyes will be on Geno Smith and EJ Manuel as they try to steer their respective teams back to a winning record. At the current pace, the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets are in a 2 team race to the bottom of the AFC East. The Bills are frequently a trendy pick to turn the corner while the Jets are expected to have a rebuilding year and losing record. Regardless of how close or sloppy the game is, the outcome will either turn that media perception on its head or validate it entirely. There isn't much of a middle ground on this one, you simply HAVE to win games against your most inferior/mediocre divisional opponent, especially when your teams schedule looks as grueling as the Jets. It certainly is not a gimme, but when you have the Saints and Falcons waiting for you down the line, a home game against the Bills is a must-win.
Sister Site: Buffalo Rumblings
Location: Metlife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ.
Field: Open air, artificial turf.
Weather: Partly sunny. High today of 70.
Record: Bills lead the series 55-50.
What happened last time? The Bills handily defeated the Jets by a score of 28-9 to close out last regular season.
Who is favored? The Jets opened up the week favored by 2.5 points.
(Players designated "Probable" status are omitted)
Out: Mark Sanchez (QB) Shoulder, Oday Aboushi (T) Knee.
Out: Rob Brooks (CB) Foot, Dustin Hopkins (K) Groin, Marquise Goodwin (WR) Hand, Stephon Gilmore (CB) Wrist. Questionable: Doug Legursky (G) Knee, Jairus Byrd (S) Foot.
Jets: Three weeks in and the Jets are offensively speaking 29th in points scored, 26th in overall yardage, 26th in passing yard production and 12th in rushing. On defense, the Jets are considerably more impressive, ranking 3rd in points allowed, 2nd in overall yardage allowed, 6th against the pass and 3rd against the run.
Bills: On offense the Bills impressive on the ground and middled in every other manner of speaking; 17th in points scored, 15th in overall yardage, 23rd in passing yards, and an impressive 4th in rushing. On defense the Bills could be described as average as they rank 15th in points allowed, 18th in yards allowed, 13th against the pass and 30th against the run. The last ranking brings us to the next order of business:
Attacking the Bills
GGN favorite Crackback put up one of his legendary fanposts which laid out how balanced the Jets were split between pass attempts and rush attempts both in the past as well as last week against the Patriots. Crackback then went on to decry the strategy and suggested that the Jets stick with what is working best in order to win. I agree with this sentiment.
The Bills are hands down one of the worst rushing defenses so far this year and the Jets would be prudent in testing their opponents run defense all day every day. The Jets will never be a consistent winning team without a viable QB completing passes, but gang green needs steady consistent gains on the ground all day if they want to hang with their opponents. If Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory can capitalize on the chances they are given today on the ground and perhaps also be threats catching passes out of the backfield, the Bills will have a very hard time keeping pace against one of the most stout defensive teams in the NFL.
Jets X-Factor: Stephen Hill
For clarification: X-factor is a weekly designated non-QB player for the Jets who will potentially make or break the game with their positive and/or negative plays. Essentially it is just a player who needs to step it up if the Jets are going to have a good game. So when in week 1 I say Dee Milliner is the X-factor, I'm not saying he'll be player of the week, I'm simply identifying said player as a gambit for the Jets.
Buffalo Bill to Watch: C.J. Spiller & Fred Jackson
For all the talk that has been done about containing CJ Spiller, it is Fred Jackson who is getting the most production out of his rush attempts as has been in the past. Jackson is a bruising runner and great player who is arguably the best 2nd RB in the entire NFL. One could argue (successfully might I add) that Jackson should be given the nod over Spiller, who is a threat but still rarely realizes his full potential on the football field.
The likes of Demario Davis and Dawan Landry will have to be ready with sure tackling in case Spiller breaks out a run which is a huge possibility today. A battle between a force in motion like Fred Jackson and human wall like the Jets D-line is imminent and the outcome uncertain. In order to win, however, the Jets will have to force Manuel and the Bills to abandon the run game and try to win through the air. This will not be easy against a running powerhouse like the 2013 Bills.
Bro's Bottom Line
The homer in me thinks this is one of those games where the Jets surprise people by playing more capably than what is expected of them. The Jets inept offense and the Bills heavy reliance on the run with both teams falling back on unproven raw rookie QB's do not match up particularly well with the opposing defenses. The Jets are, at least by averages, one of the better rushing teams and the Bills are one of the absolute worst run defenses. For that reason alone I have a great deal of reserved optimism regarding the Jets chances for victory in this game.