The Buffalo Bills are back on top of the AFC as the regular season hits its final month. After three straight games outside of Buffalo, including an unexpected away “home” game, the Bills will return home for two straight against the Jets and Dolphins. Let’s dive right into matchup.
The Last Five
Jets 20 Bills 17 (2022)
Bills 27 Jets 10 (2021)
Bills 45 Jets 17 (2021)
Bills 18 Jets 10 (2020)
Bills 27 Jets 17 (2020)
The Jets handed the Bills their second loss of the season back in Week 9 in the Meadowlands. Five weeks later, the Bills have stabilized from what appeared to be a mini-meltdown and look primed to avenge their loss from a few weeks ago. The Jets’ victory over the Bills was their first since the 2019 season. New York will look to sweep Buffalo for the first time since the 2016-2017 season, which was Rex Ryan’s last year as the head man in Buffalo.
What To Watch For: Buffalo Bills
Cookin’ with Gas – To help their struggling offense, the Bills have elected to get rookie RB James Cook more involved in their gameplan. Cook set a career high in rushing yards against the Browns two weeks ago with 86. Last week, Cook rushed for 64, but added 41 through the air on six receptions, a season high for him. With Sean McDermott wanting a more even run-pass split, it is encouraging to see Cook on the field as much as he was. Last week, Cook was on the field for 43% of the offensive snaps. His previous high was 26% against the Titans, a game which was over by halftime. Last Thursday is the best indicator of where Ken Dorsey and Sean McDermott want this offense to go down the stretch. Look for another healthy dose of James Cook this week.
No Milano Again for Round 2? – Matt Milano is officially listed as questionable could miss his second game of the year. The first game he missed was the first Jets game back in November. Naturally, with Milano playing at an All-Pro level this year, fans pointed to Milano’s absence as one of the main reasons for the loss. With just one limited session of practice this week, and McDermott not sounding optimistic, it is clear that the Bills will have to find a way to beat the Jets without Milano in the lineup. This time around the Bills have AJ Klein as Milano’s backup, who might be an upgrade over rookie Terrel Bernard.
Bounceback for JA17 – Allen played his worst game of the season against the Jets back in Week 9. Outside of his success running the football in that game, Allen was very vocal about being the reason they lost. Allen threw a puzzling red zone interception on the game’s opening drive, where he admitted to not seeing Jets Safety Jordan Whitehead. The game in the Meadowlands last month was really what started the “regression” talks and ended the MVP discussion for the Allen this year.
While he has been slowly bouncing back, there is still something off about the star quarterback. Let’s not forget that it was on the penultimate play of the game where Allen injured his elbow. This is something Allen has said he will have to deal with for the rest of the year. OC Ken Dorsey spoke about the offensive approach this week considering the struggles the last time these two teams played.
“I think schematically, for them, they do what they do and they do it very well…So we’ve just got to figure out ways to attack a sound defense that plays fast and create matchups for us, and create ways to move the ball and get in the end zone. So, it’s a great challenge for us on offense.”Dorsey on the Jets Defense (via Jack Bell/NYJets.com)
What To Watch For: New York Jets
Mike White: QB1 – Since making the switch from Zach Wilson to Mike White the Jets offensive has been unrecognizable. Three weeks ago, after putting together one of the worst offensive performances in recent memory against the Patriots, Jets coach Robert Saleh decided to make an immediate change to the most important position on the field. Through two games, it is clear that he made the right choice.
White lead his team to a 31-10 win over Detroit, throwing for 300 yards and 3 TDs. Last week, the Vikings defense slowed White down a bit. However, he still lead the team back from a double-digit deficit and had a chance to win at the end. Zach Wilson didn’t do anything special in the Jets’ victory over the Bills a few weeks ago, so you have to think the Jets are already in a better position this Sunday than they were the last time these two teams played.
Defensive Line – A large reason for the Buffalo Bills’ offensive struggles the first time these two teams played was the performance of the Jets’ defensive line. The Bills were dominated up front, which had Allen looking very uncomfortable throughout the game. Allen was sacked five times and was hit eight times in the Week 9 defeat. With Dion Dawkins questionable this week, the Jets have an opportunity to flex their D-Line muscles once again. That could disrupt any plans the Bills offense has to improve on their 17-point performance against this defense last time. Defensive Tackle Quinnen Williams will be one player to watch; the DT has four sacks in his last five games and is playing at his usual Pro-Bowl level this year.
Statement Game 2.0 – The Jets treated their last game against the Bills as a statement game for them. They did not take too kindly to being underdogs in their own house despite a 5-3 record at the time. After their bye, the team was humbled by the Patriots; many considered them firmly “in the hunt” instead of “a lock” for one of the three Wild Card spots. The team sits at 7-5 and, once again, has a statement game against the team they are looking up at in the AFC East. Can the Jets knock off the best team in the division twice in one year? Or will they fall to 7-6 and firmly into the “in the hunt” conversation?
Bills 27 Jets 13 The Buffalo Bills are back on top of the conference and I do not see them giving it up as easily as they did last time. There are a handful of toss-up games left for the Bills this season, but this should not be considered one of them. The Bills remember that first Jets game, and I think the team is more equipped to beat them this time. I think the Bills will jump ahead early and win their second straight divisional game.
Featured Image: Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports