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Friday Preview: Buffalo Bills vs. New York Jets

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Despite leading the AFC East, the Bills are in desperate need of a win. Luckily for them, this week they travel to New Jersey to play the hapless Jets, the final winless team in the league. I think we will see a different, much more efficient, Bills team this Sunday. And speaking of Sunday, it will feel weird to have the Bills play at the usual 1 pm time slot, won’t it? There was a time in the not so distant past that I complained about the “boring” 1 pm start times. Well, going three weeks without an early game and having to rush home from work to catch games on weeknights has me excited for the usual 1 pm start time once again!

The Last Five

Bills 34 Jets 24 (2020)
Jets 13 Bills 6 (2019)
Bills 17 Jets 16 (2019)
Jets 27 Bills 23 (2018)
Bills 41 Jets 14 (2018)

The Bills and Jets have alternated wins for the entirety of Sean McDermott’s tenure. Thus, McDermott has never swept the Jets. This week is an excellent opportunity to do so. The game that I have been thinking about a lot this week was the 2018 41-14 game mentioned above, the “Matt Barkley” game, as it is known. This weekend, I can see the game in Jersey looking a lot like that game from two years ago.

What To Watch For: Bills

Offensive Struggles: Where is the offense that we saw during the first quarter of the year? The offense that moved the ball ease against the Jets and didn’t bat an eyelash when they fell behind against the Dolphins and Rams has not been seen since the game in Vegas. We know from watching the All-22 film this week that the Titans and Chiefs blitzed Allen often to keep him from picking them apart, and it worked. Allen will need to figure out a solution for that, as Greg Williams will throw some unique looks at Allen since a blueprint is out on how to make him uncomfortable. More specifically, a lot of the struggles on offense can be attributed to their lack of a run game. Devin Singletary, Zach Moss, or TJ Yeldon have not been able to be the playmakers that Daboll needs them to be. The Jets have an above-average run defense, so getting the run game going won’t be an easy task this week, but it is an essential one for Buffalo.

Where Are The Turnovers? An important facet of winning football is also winning the turnover margin. In order to win the turnover margin, you have to force turnovers, something the Bills have not been able to do this year. Most likely because of their inability to put pressure on the opposing quarterback, the Bills’ defense has just two interceptions and five forced fumbles on the year. Regardless of who starts for the Jets, either Sam Darnold or Joe Flacco, I think the Bills have an opportunity to add to that total this week.

Defense: I won’t give this one up. The defense has been the talking point for the entire week since the Chiefs game. Even though the offense managed to put up just 17 points last week, the defense has been the unit raked over the coals by the fanbase this week. To be more specific, if we are looking for a spot for the Bills to improve, a good place to start would be 3rd down defense. The Bills are letting teams convert 3rd downs 53% of the time, which is 3rd worse in the league. We saw it time after time on Monday night. The Bills could not get off of the field and force a punt when they needed one. And I do believe that if the defense forced a punt on that final Chiefs drive, we are talking about another Josh Allen comeback win, and the narrative this week is very, very different. If the Bills are able to improve their 3rd down defense and give more opportunities to their offense, we should see some of the fires go out surrounding Sean McDermott’s unit.

What To Watch For: Jets

Quarterback: I like the Bills chances in this game regardless of who is under center, but naturally I would like to see backup QB Joe Flacco lead the team out of the tunnel on Sunday. Sam Darnold has been sidelined for the Jets past two games with a shoulder injury. In those two games, Flacco led the Jets to 10 points combined. For as bad as the Bills defense has been this year, I am not sure the ex-Super Bowl MVP has it in him to outscore the Bills. On Wednesday and Thursday, Sam Darnold was limited for the Jets in practice, which is a positive sign for him returning to the field this Sunday.

Firesale! Make no mistake about it, the Jets are tanking. You’d think they hired Tim Murray with some of the moves this week, flipping players that do not have a future with the team for future draft picks. Last Tuesday, they released RB Le’Veon Bell just two years into a 4-year $52 million deal. Within hours of their embarrassing shutout loss to the Dolphins last Sunday, GM Joe Douglas traded DL Steve McLendon to the Buccaneers. On Wednesday, they traded DE Jordan Willis to the 49ers. If the Jets are handed another embarrassing loss this weekend, it will be interesting to see who is moved out as the November 3rd trade deadline approaches. Personally, they are releasing and trading the wrong people. Adam Gase should have been fired before they boarded the plane back to Jersey. It will be interesting to see how long Gase is able to stay on for. Would another tough loss from the Bills force owner Woody Johnson’s hand? We’ll see.

Wide Receivers: Back when I was previewing Week 1 against the Jets, I mentioned their revamped wide receivers as something to watch for. While Jamison Crowder has been a really nice addition for the team, injuries have prevented their new WR unit from seeing the field all at the same time. That should change this week as rookie Denzel Mims is ready to suit up for Gang Green. If Darnold starts with a full complement of WR’s for the first time this year, the Jets could find some success through the air, especially with the lack of film that the Bills have on the unit that has never played together.

Prediction

Bills 40 Jets 23 – This seems bold considering how the once-elite offense has played the past two weeks. The Bills are 13-point favorites on the road, and I think they will cover with a bounce-back performance. Sean McDermott scoffed at a question on Wednesday regarding the Jets’ ability level. While he might not say it, I have no issue saying it: The New York Jets are hot garbage. They are a laughingstock. This game is exactly what the Bills need, as they look to jumpstart all three phases of their team. If Buffalo wins, while it won’t be the measuring stick win that they wanted the last two weeks, I don’t think too many fans would be bummed about getting back on track.

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