Where We Are
The Jets looked like the superior team for most of Sunday's matchup against the Bengals. That is saying quite a lot considering that the Bengals are not only a perennial playoff team, but also especially fierce in the regular season. This week will be the true test, however, as the Jets have to travel to a division rival on a short week. A division rival that swept them last year and knocked them out of playoff contention in week 17. Coached by their bombastic former coach. If the Jets lose this week, things could start to spiral out of control. Teams that start 0-2 rarely reach the playoffs and their schedule only gets harder after week 2.
Where They Are
The Bills lost an extremely dismal game against Baltimore in the opener that saw Tyrod Taylor pass for a paltry 111 yards on 22 attempts. Any game in which your leading passer and leading rusher combine for 169 yards is one you'd likely hope to forget. The Bills looked mediocre on defense and entirely anemic on offense while playing against a team that was outscored 401-328 in a 5-11 season last year. With all that said, the Bills were hardly impressive last season but swept the Jets in nearly identical games. With Rex Ryan as your coach, there are a few things you can expect. The first and foremost of those is mental errors. Somewhere near the top of that list, however, is that the team will play big in meaningless week 17 games. And also against favored opponents with playoff hopes.
|Davis, Kellen||TE||Neck / Ribs||LP||FP||FP||-|
|Petty, Bryce||QB||Rt. Shoulder||DNP||DNP||DNP||Out|
|Wilkerson, Muhammad||DE||Ankle / Toe||LP||LP||LP||questionable|
|Winters, Brian||G||Hand / Groin||FP||FP||FP||-|
|Jones, Cardale||QB||Right shoulder||LP||LP||LP||questionable|
After picking Darrelle Revis as my X-Factor in week 1 and seeing A.J. Green lead the NFL in receiving, I almost don't want to pick an X-Factor for the Jets this week. Scratch that: I actually don't. But to prove that I'm not superstitious (knock on wood), I really have to choose Ryan Fitzpatrick for this week. Fitz has some demons to purge after two miserable showings against the Bills last season, including a week 17 game that essentially flushed the Jets' season down the toilet. If Fitzpatrick can even post a respectable 80+ passer rating, I have full confidence that the Jets should win this game. Getting his top 2 targets active early will be important: Marshall and Decker combined for a paltry 5 receptions for 54 yards in week 1 while Fitz looked uncomfortable and inaccurate throwing to them. Fitz wasn't helped by a costly drop by Marshall during a desperation drive at the end, but it appeared that a large share of the blame rested squarely on Fitz's inability to get comfortable on Sunday. Just play okay, Fitz...okay?
If I'm going with a QB for the Jets, I might as well go for a QB for the Bills. While McCoy shredded the Jets in their first matchup last season, Taylor is the one on the hot seat after a pretty dismal debut. Taylor signed a 6-year megadeal worth up to $92M in the offseason, but it is mostly a prove-it contract that relies heavily on a 2017 team friendly option. Throwing for 111 yards while averaging 2.2 yards per carry and accounting for 0 touchdown in a 13-7 loss was probably not what Bills fans were hoping for when they saw those contract numbers. After looking totally ineffective against a mediocre Ravens defense, Taylor will have a lot to prove in the Bills home debut. As a dual threat QB who thrives on deep balls and escaping the pocket, Taylor is somewhat of a frightening boom or bust player who can take advantage of a Jets defense that is extremely stout most of the time, but has a tendency to give up long pass plays and lose contain. Hopefully the Jets continue getting to the QB en route to another disappointing day at the office for Taylor.
Keys To Victory
Offense: Stay balanced and take what the Bills give you. The Jets should have the advantage with Marshall and Decker if Rex leaves his DBs on islands, and Matt Forte and Bilal Powell can provide solid safety valves when the receivers aren't open.
Defense: Do not give up deep balls. Do not lose contain. Do not miss tackles on Taylor and McCoy. Water is wet.
The Bottom Line
I was extremely optimistic for the Jets' home debut against the Bengals. I saw almost everything I expected from both teams, but the Jets managed to lose due to minor, nagging errors. Coming off of a heartbreaking loss at 0-1 and going up to Buffalo on a short week to face a team that swept them last year, I expect this team to respond with an impressive win. If the Jets lose on Thursday, it may not necessarily mean the end of the season. But at 0-2 with games against the Chiefs, Steelers, Seahawks, and Cardinals in the next 4 weeks, I would more or less expect the season to start slipping away. I'm still optimistic that the Jets will get through this stretch of the schedule with at least 2 or 3 wins and I believe that starts with a win on the road this week.