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If there was ever a time to start winning, this is it. The early Sunday afternoon game against the Buffalo Bills at home will be the Jets easiest and most likely chance for victory before their bye in a few weeks. With Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller out from injuries, the Bills will likely be forced to be even more one-dimensional in their offensive attack than in recent games. The Jets can finish the brutal first half of their schedule 4-6, or as bad as 1-9. Every single game (including this one) for the remainder of the season is virtually an elimination game for the Jets. Anything worse than 10-6 isn't likely to get it done in the AFC. A loss here is the nail in the coffin.
Where Each Team Is
The Buffalo Bills are having a season that isn't half bad, with a record of 4-3. The Bills have narrowly survived 3 of their NFC North opponents, and devastated the Dolphins like a commercial tuna fishing boat. The rest of Buffalo's AFC tilts have not gone favorably for the Bison. After benching E.J. Manuel in favor of Kyle Orton, a journeyman QB most famous for losing his job to Tim Tebow, the Bills became more pass-happy but remain one of the lowest scoring teams in the NFL.
One of the few teams worse than the Bills at putting up points on offense are the New York Jets. Unlike the Bills, Gang Green hasn't given up on its young project quarterback, much to the chagrin of many Jets fans who are losing patience with the sophomore signal caller. The Jets are looking to snap a six game losing streak and a 1-6 start that is the worst for the team since going 4-12 in 2007. It's worth noting that the Jets retained their embattled head coach for another year after that disastrous season.
Bills vs Jets coverage
Sister Site: Buffalo Rumblings
Location: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ.
Field: Open air, artificial turf.
Coverage: CBS. Your home for cheesy procedurals.
Weather: Sunny with a high of 62 degrees F.
Record: Bills lead the all-time series, 56-51.
What happened last time? The Bills trampled the Jets by a score of 37-14 on November 17, 2013.
Who is favored? Jets by 2.5.
Greg Salas and Trevor Reilly reportedly will not play. The rest of the roster is likely to suit up.
Jets: On offense the Jets are 29th in points scored, 26th in overall yards on average, 31st in passing yards and 5th in rushing yards. The Jets are consistently an effective running team, but with their scoring and passing game this inept it really doesn't matter. Even teams that are poor against the run have easily outpaced the Jets on offense. This is a passing league, and the Jets cannot pass.
On defense the Jets are 26th in points allowed, 8th in overall yards allowed, 15th in passing defense, and 8th in rushing defense. You could call the Jets a bend-but-don't-break defense, but they are scored upon quite easily even if the team does hold their opponents to minimal yards gained. The defense has been quite stout, but unable to stop offenses from getting in the end zone.
Bills: On offense the Bills are 27th in points scored, 22nd in overall yards, 19th in passing yards; and 19th in rushing yards. The Bills don't do anything particularly good on offense, although things are moving upward for Buffalo since making a QB switch. Even playing fewer games, Orton is on pace to overtake Geno Smith in every manner of passing production.
On defense the Bills, like the Jets are a mixed bag, ranking 7th in points allowed, 10th in overall yards allowed; 20th against the pass, and 4th against the run. The Bills are an even better run defense than the Jets, but their pass defense has been pretty lousy on average. One of the reasons for this is that the Bills are up against the same mega-lineup of opposing quarterbacks the Jets face this year. Another reason is that they're the Bills. If I can think of one franchise besides the Jets known for giving seasons away, it's the Buffalo Bills.
AP Pro Ranking has the Jets sitting pretty at 29th overall, and the Bills ranked 16th.
Attacking the Bills
There are two steps to victory. The first is to put Kyle Orton on his back more than a kid sick with mono. The second is for Geno Smith to outpace Orton in production and commit less turnovers. With two teams this evenly matched, a single turnover or mistake can mean the difference in the game. The Jets will likely take away the Bills already hobbled running game very early in the game, forcing the Bills to be completely one dimensional in their attack. The question is whether the likes of Phillip Adams, Darrin Walls, and Antonio Allen can consistently stop the Bills advance in what many are expecting to be a low-scoring affair. One blown coverage that gives up a touchdown might be an insurmountable lead for the Jets offense to overcome.
It's tempting to list Percy Harvin as the Jets X-Factor. All eyes will be on Harvin after the Jets acquired the versatile receiver and special teamer from the Seattle Seahawks for a conditional 2015 draft pick. The truth of the matter is that Harvin is likely to be eased into whatever his role may be on offense, and you are more likely to see him active in the return game. Reports have it that Harvin will be used for less than 50 percent of offensive snaps.
Muhammad Wilkerson is the biggest threat to the Bills struggling offensive line and the mediocre passer relying on it for protection. Expect him to give the offense fits all day long. Sheldon Richardson had a productive outing the last time the Jets hosted the Bills at home. If the Jets terrible twosome wreak a fraction of the havoc that they are capable of, the Bills will struggle.
Bills to Watch
Alright, apparently there's some guy on the Bills roster called Boobie Dixon. I'm just getting that out of the way now like an unpleasant topic in health class that gets a lot of giggles. That's not me trying to be funny. That's not a reformed porn actor trying to break into the NFL. That's the way he is listed on the depth chart. His real name is Anthony Dixon. Apparently that wasn't rough enough of a name. Anyway, Boobie will be the feature back in the absence of Spiller and Fred Jackson. Some guy named Bryce Brown is also likely to get some carries, but his name isn't nearly as interesting.
Sammy Watkins is the Bills best receiver, both in terms of catches and scores. It's really no contest; the next most productive receiver for the Bills is the injured and absent Fred Jackson. Jackson and Spiller were two of the Bills top 5 receivers, so don't let a Bills fan tell you they won't be missed. Robert Woods is the Bills most active WR behind Watkins. Tight end Scott Chandler is also a favorite target of both Orton and Manuel. Chris Hogan is a rising threat on offense.
Leodis McKelvin has been a turnover machine this year, with 4 interceptions and a fumble. McKelvin is also the teams leading solo tackler and has been active as a kick and punt returner. McKelvin could singlehandedly beat the Jets if Geno Smith and the special team coverage aren't both up to par against him.
Marcell Dareus has 7 sacks on the season. Jerry Hughes and Mario Williams have 5 and a half sacks apiece. Kyle Williams, Nigel Bradham, and Brandon Spikes are all threats to get to the Jets backfield as well. The Bills will be looking to rush the Jets, and they have no lack of talent to use in order to get to the quarterback.
Bro's Bottom Line
This is a must-win game for the Jets. Every win from here on out is a must-win for the Jets. The Bills are not nearly as desperate, and the team is worse than their 4-3 record. The Jets might be pretty lousy in 2014, but they aren't quite as bad as their 1-6 record. The bookies and media pundits favor the Jets, and I agree with them. This feels like a Jets victory, even if a very messy one. If the Jets can't pull out a win against the banged up Bills at home, all hope is truly lost for the year. On the other hand, the second half of Gang Green's 2014 schedule is like playing Candy Land in comparison to the half they wrap up this week. A win could set the Jets up for a historic run. But let's take it one step at a time. The first step is the very beatable Buffalo Bills.
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