Welcome to Trends to Track, a weekly look at some of the developing trends shown by the upcoming opponent and/or the Jets. Here we foolishly go where smarter people fear to tread and try to establish some trends which might influence the outcome of Sunday's game. This isn't meant to be an exhaustive list, or even necessarily the most important trends and matchups to focus on. Rather, it is a highly idiosyncratic look at trends which caught my eye this week and might prove interesting in Sunday's game. Please feel free to supplement this article with any trends you've noticed. Now, let's get to it.
The Bills came into the week 8 matchup against the Jets as the NFL's best run defense. What a difference a few weeks makes. After starting the season with six straight games holding opponents under 90 yards rushing, the Bills have done their best impression of a treadmill recently, as opponents have run all over them. In each of the last four weeks the Bills have given up more than 110 yards rushing, and in each week it has gotten worse. 118 rushing yards given up against the Vikings, then 137 against the Jets, 151 against the Chiefs and a whopping 205 against the Dolphins. The Jets have run for 130 or more yards in all but three games this year. The Jets rank 5th in the NFL in rushing yards and 5th in yards per attempt. What looked like a tough matchup on the ground in week 8 now looks like a Jets advantage in week 12. If the Jets can mount a strong running game against the Bills and protect the football they stand a good chance of winning against a Bills offense that at 25th in the league is only slightly less anemic than the Jets' 26th ranked offense.
Turnabout Is Fair Play
The Bills are currently tied for 3rd in the NFL in generating turnovers with 21. The Bills have generated multiple turnovers in seven of the ten games they've played, failing to do so only against three of the best quarterbacks in the NFL at protecting the ball, Alex Smith, Philip Rivers and Tom Brady. The Jets are 23rd in the NFL in offensive turnovers with 18 and have turned the ball over multiple times in six of ten games. The last time these two teams met, in week 8, the Jets turned the ball over six times, giving them no chance to win in a 43-23 Buffalo beat down that marked the end of Geno Smith's run as the Jets starting quarterback. However, since replacing Smith in the lineup the Jets have gone two straight weeks without a turnover and they have gone three of the last four weeks turnover free. The Jets are facing a Buffalo team that struggles to score and is highly dependent on generating turnovers to win. In the only three games this year that the Bills have failed to generate multiple turnovers on defense the Bills have lost every game. The Jets are no longer turning the ball over much. The Bills are highly proficient at, and highly dependent on, generating multiple turnovers. Something's gotta give. If the Jets can manage to protect the ball in this game they stand a good chance at picking up another win, which would be only the third time they have generated back to back wins since December 2011. Time to turn the tables on turnovers?
Lucky Number Three
Threes are everywhere this week. This is Michael Vick's third start with the Jets. This is the Jets' third divisional game this year. The Jets are Vick's third NFL team. Percy Harvin now has three games as a Jet under his belt. The Bills could be dealt their third straight loss. The Jets have gone three of the past four games without turning the ball over. The Bills have generated multiple turnovers in all but three games this year. The Jets are looking to be the third team this year that has not turned the ball over against the Bills. The Jets are looking to hold a team under 24 points for the third time this year. The Bills are looking to score 24 or more points for the third time this year. The Jets are looking to score 24 or more points for the third time this year. The Jets have held their opponents under 100 yards rushing in all but three games this year, a record they hope to keep intact against Buffalo. Michael Vick is looking to go three straight games without a turnover, a feat he has only achieved three times in his career. That's a lot of threes. Will the Power of Three make the Jets the Charmed Ones this week? With any luck the Jets will add one more three to the list: this could be the Jets' third win of the season.
This game against the Bills looks like a much more even matchup than it did just a few weeks ago. With Vick under center the Jets' offense is no longer shooting itself in the foot all game. With Harvin aboard and now up to speed in the Jets offense the Jets can now match the Bills in aerial weapons. Both teams have terrific defensive lines. The Bills have a much better secondary, while the Jets have a better run defense and a better running game on offense. Both teams struggle to move the ball and score. This matchup looks like something close to a tossup. If the Jets can manage to protect the football this week, don't be surprised if they come out of this game with a win.