Welcome to Trends to Track, a 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 this week'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 this week's game. Please feel free to supplement this article with any trends you've noticed. Now, let's get to it.
The Bills rely to a large extent on big plays to score. Of 24 offensive touchdowns scored by the Bills this year, 14 have come on plays of 20 or more yards. Eight, or one third of their offensive touchdowns, have come on plays of 30 yards or more. This is not an offense that slices you up with a precision short game like the Patriots. Rather this team tries to pound and pound the ball with the running game until you bring your defense up into the box, then they hit you with a decisive quick strike deep down the field. If you can manage to keep the plays in front of you and force the Bills to put together long drives of relatively short plays, you will go a long way towards neutralizing the Bills offense. This has been something the Jets have done relatively well this year, at least until the last couple of games. In their first six games the Jets gave up only 3 scoring plays of 20 yards or more. However, in their last two games the Jets gave up five scoring plays of 20 yards or more. If the Jets can regain their form of most of this year it should go a long way towards neutralizing the Bills big play offense. On the other hand, if we see the Jets defense of the last two games it could be a long night for Gang Green.
The Bills and the Jets have both lived and died with turnovers this year. The Bills have lost all four games in which they had a negative turnover differential, and have won all three games in which they have had a positive turnover differential. Likewise the Jets have won all four games in which they have had a positive turnover differential, and lost three of the four games in which they have had a negative turnover differential. Whoever wins the turnover battle here will likely win the game. Fortunately for the Jets, this favors them just a bit. The Jets are second in the NFL in turnover differential at +7, while the Bills are middle of the pack at +1. Unlike recent seasons, the 2015 Jets defense has managed to generate turnovers at a prodigious rate. This may prove the difference in the game tonight.
Stop The Run, Bills Have No Fun
The Bills have run the ball extremely often and extremely well this year. They rank fourth in the NFL in rushing attempts per game and second in the NFL in rushing yards. They have two talented backs in LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams. Stopping the Bills running game is not an easy task. It is, however, not impossible. In five games this year the Bills have rushed for more than 125 yards. They've won four of those five games. In the other four games the Bills have rushed for less than 120 yards. They lost each of those games. The Jets have not allowed more than 125 yards rushing all year, and have only allowed more than 100 yards rushing in three games, two of which resulted in Jets losses. If the Jets can maintain their excellent run defense against the Bills, the Jets stand an excellent chance of winning this game. If on the other hand the Bills become the first team to really run wild against the Jets, the Jets will likely lose. The trend here favors the Jets.
Will The Trends Be Our Friend?
Many trends point to a possible Jets victory on tonight. But trends can be fickle. If the Jets can do the things they've done well for most of this year, the trends point to a Jets victory tonight. We'll shortly see how those trends play out