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Previewing the Jets’ opposition: Buffalo Bills

New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

After an eventful week, it’s difficult to know what to expect from this week’s opponent. Like the Jets, they probably already have an eye on next season, having lost four in a row and scoring just 33 points in those losses. Let’s break down each position:


At the time of writing, it’s unclear who will be starting at quarterback for the Bills, after veteran Derek Anderson was ruled out.

Rookie Josh Allen, who is working his way back following an elbow injury, may not be ready in time, but the team seems to have lost patience with Nathan Peterman, so it might end up being Matt Barkley that gets the nod.

Barkley hasn’t thrown a pass in the NFL since 2016, where he went 1-5 in his only six NFL starts. Peterman has been the butt of many jokes after putting up historically bad numbers in his first few starts. Allen had been a bit erratic, but at least went 2-3 as a starter while showcasing his arm strength and mobility.

Offensive Line

The Bills lost long-term starting center Eric Wood to a career-ending neck injury in January and his replacement, veteran Russell Bodine, has been a downgrade in the running game. However, he’s yet to allow a sack and has only two penalties, the lowest of all five starters.

The other four starters, tackles Dion Dawkins and Jordan Mills and guards Vladimir Ducasse and John Miller were all on the team last year, although Miller spent most of it coming off the bench. The left tackle Dawkins has given up a team-high five sacks and six penalties having played well as a rookie in 2017 but Mills has also struggled.

The group are struggling badly in the running game and have given up 21 penalties between them. Ducasse, a former Jet, is having a solid year in pass protection, but is grading out as the worst of their starters in the running game.

The main reserve off the bench is Ryan Groy, who started a couple of games when Bodine was out. Rookie Wyatt Teller is promising too. They also have Connor McDermott, who was a late round pick for New England last season.

Running Backs

LeSean McCoy is still the Bills’ most potent offensive weapon, but he’s having a tough time of generating any offense this year, as he’s averaging just 3.1 yards per carry and has only 23 catches. McCoy is also yet to score a touchdown this year.

Ex-Jet Chris Ivory is actually the Bills’ leading rusher with 280 yards, although he’s only averaging 3.5 per carry and has just one touchdown himself. He’s averaged over five yards per carry in the previous three games though, so he seems to be getting in gear after a slow start. However, he’s dealing with a shoulder injury and has been listed as questionable.

Another former Jet, Marcus Murphy, is the number three back. He’s been good as a change of pace, as he’s averaging almost six yards per carry.

Former Pro Bowler Patrick DiMarco is the blocking back, but doesn’t feature that much on offense.

Pass catchers

After an underwhelming rookie campaign, Zay Jones has been more productive this year, as he leads the team with 29 catches. No Bills player has more than one touchdown catch on the year though.

Kelvin Benjamin has been a disappointment. Although he’s averaging over 15 yards per catch and leads the team in receiving yards, he only has 20 receptions.

The Bills are hoping that Terrelle Pryor can provide them with a boost. As Jets fans will recall from the joint practices in training camp, Pryor relishes the challenge of going up against his former teammates.

With backup Andre Holmes listed as questionable, perhaps rookie Ray-Ray McCloud will get a chance to add to his four catches on the year.

Tight end Charles Clay led the Bills in receiving last year, but he’s been ruled out for Sunday. Jason Croom and Logan Thomas will split reps with Clay out.

Defensive Line

While the offense has been really bad, the Bills defense has been performing well. They’ll be down a starter, though, as defensive end Trent Murphy has been ruled out. Eddie Yarbrough and 2016 first rounder Shaq Lawson will presumably get more reps as a result. Jerry Hughes, who has 4.5 sacks, will start on the other side.

On the inside, the ageless Kyle Williams is still plugging away and will be eager to take advantage of the Jets’ struggles on the interior. He’ll line up alongside another former first round pick, Star Lotulelei.

Impressive rookie Harrison Phillips and his namesake Jordan Phillips will provide depth off the bench.


With Murphy unavailable, the Bills will probably run plenty of 3-4 sets with Lorenzo Alexander coming off the edge. He’s having another good year after his out-of-nowhere breakout 12.5-sack campaign two seasons ago. Alexander is tied with Hughes for the team lead in sacks.

First round rookie Tremaine Edmunds is leading the team in tackles, but has been picked upon a lot in coverage. By contrast, Matt Milano has been playing an every-down role and has done well in a coverage role.

The Bills’ bench includes an experienced former starter in Ramon Humber and another former Jet in Julian Stanford. One of them may need to start if Edmunds - who has been dealing with concussion symptoms - cannot play.

Defensive Backs

The Bills’ best cornerback is last year’s first round pick, Tre’Davious White. However, they just cut their other starter - Phillip Gaines - so they need some youngsters to step up.

Ryan Lewis, an undrafted free agent signing from last season, has been listed as the other starter but rookie Taron Johnson also gets plenty of reps.

At safety, Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer combined for nine interceptions last season, but only have two between them so far this year. Rafael Bush sees plenty of action as the third safety.

Special Teams

Bills kicker Stephen Hauschka has had a decent season, as he’s is perfect on the year from inside 50 yards, including a game-winner against the Titans last month. Their punter is Colton Schmidt, who returned to the Bills after his replacement - Corey Bojorquez - hurt his shoulder and went onto injured reserve.

In the return game, the Bills have several options, but Murphy has been the main one. Hyde is listed as the punt returner.

In kick coverage, Holmes, Humber and reserve defensive back Lafayette Pitts have been the most productive players this year.