Breaking Down the Jets vs the Bills
The Jets were lucky to escape with a win against the awful Chiefs, but the win still has the team hanging on in the early playoff race. New York now travels to Buffalo with first place potentially on the line to visit the 5-2 Buffalo Bills, winners of 3 in a row at home and winners of 4 of their last 5 against the Jets in Buffalo.
Bills Offense vs. Jets Defense
On offense the Bills will likely remind many Jets fans of the game manager approach the Jets had grown accustomed to under Chad Pennington for so many years. QB Trent Edwards completes a high percentage of passes, mainly short, and they try to limit his attempts to avoid any mistakes. Edwards does have the go ahead to throw long when he sees his favorite target Lee Evans streaking down the field. Evans is a game changer with a ridiculous 20.5 yards per catch average on the season. Evans has only had one game where he did not catch at least 1 ball over 30 yards. Edwards does his best to spread the ball around the field using Josh Reed and his tight ends and running backs underneath. The Buffalo Bills running game is led by Marshawn Lynch who has found some good success around the goalline and as a receiver where he has 24 receptions on the year. He is the featured player of the offense, but is not the kind of threat that is paid extra attention to. His 3.7 yards per carry average is nothing special and he does not have breakaway speed. Fred Jackson is a good complementary back to Lynch being brought in to try to pound out first downs or take part in the passing game. The Bills offensive line seems to be improving as LT Jason Peters is rounding back into shape. Early in the year they were seeing Edwards under some heavy pressure, but the last three games have shown much improvement, though their starting right guard will miss this weeks game.
While the Bills offense rarely wows you, it’s a terrible matchup for the Jets defense. The Bills will just pick away at the Jets secondary and take 10 yard completion after 10 yard completion after 10 yard completion over the middle to the Wr’s, Rb’s, and Te’s. The Jets secondary has shown no ability to contain any passing attack and Edwards accurate game is a nightmare for a Jets team that can not defend the pass. Darrelle Revis is coming off his worst game as a pro where he was just manhandled by the physical Dwayne Bowe and will now need to try to blanket the small, but ultra speedy, Evans. The Jets secondary has limited much in the way of big plays this year, but there have been times where the oppositions Wr’s have beaten Revis and the Jets coverage deep, but the Qb’s they have played have either been unable or unwilling to get the ball to the open wideout. The Jets linebackers must do a great job of keeping Lynch and Jackson in check in passing situations. Allowing Edwards to just sit back there is a bad strategy this week. The Jets have to take their chances blitzing him and make him beat them under pressure, something the team has failed to do since week 4. The Jets should try to take advantage of the Bills right side of the line and attack from there.
The Jets have to limit Buffalo early on and not allow them to jump to a lead. Buffalo has basically started slowly in most games this year and have yet to score a 1st quarter TD in their last 5 games. The Jets have been very strong to open games and must continue the trend. The Jets also need to try to improve their late 1st half defense to win this game. The Jets are slacking off on those final drives of the 2nd quarter and being caught off guard too often by the opposition. In 2 of the last three games they have given up touchdowns to some very inferior players. The Bills are doing well in the 2 minute drill setting up for quick field goals to steal some momentum back. The Bills never quit and have some big 4th quarter comebacks under their belts this season, so no lead is safe against the Bills.
Bills Defense vs. Jets Offense
The Bills defense is very solid as they do a very good job limiting teams on both the ground and in the air. Other than Steven Jackson of the Rams no running back has even come close to putting up a good performance against the defense, a tremendous upgrade over last year. The addition of Marcus Stroud has basically eliminated the middle of the field in the same way Kris Jenkins has limited the middle of the field for the Jets. The teams defensive ends are all good against the run and LB Paul Posluszny has done a tremendous job in keeping players from escaping to the outside if they get past the line. The Bills rely on their secondary, led by Terrence McGee, to keep the passing game in check. McGee is banged up with a knee injury and will not be 100% for this weeks game. Buffalo does not have an easy time harassing the QB and needs their corners to blanket the field for a good amount of time. They will bring blitzes from the secondary and from the OLB’s from time to time, which have been their best ways to get to the QB, but in general they like to cover the field and try to confuse the QB. The Bills are excellent on third downs and rarely allow teams to convert, something the Jets have a major problem with in 2008.
It is impossible to predict what the Jets will try to do in this game. Their offense just looks completely lost as Brett Favre is struggling through a terrible stretch of bad decisions and bad passes. Favre is forcing the ball deep and often into double and triple coverage. These plays have no chance of working the way the team is setting them up, but it seems as if that has become the norm for him. The Bills have given up a few big plays, but those are going to speedy players and often after they have been set up and are caught off guard. The Bills, similar to the Jets, try to keep everything in front of them and short. Favre has to take what is available for his Wr’s rather than forcing something that is not going to be there. That means trusting his guys to go and grab the ball in the middle of the field off of some safe throws. The Jets have to make an conscious effort to utilize Chansi Stuckey and Leon Washington in the passing game this week. Buffalo has not had great success against teams backup wide receivers nor against running backs in the open field. Thomas Jones will likely not be a factor at all this week and should be avoided for the most part against this defense. Stroud has given the Jets fits in the past and draws into him with Jones are a wasted play.
The most important thing for the Jets to do this week is protect the football. You can turn the ball over against teams like the Bengals, Chiefs, and Raiders and have a chance to win. You can not have a chance to win doing that against Buffalo. The Bills have turned every turnover they have received with more than a few seconds of time on the clock into points. The offense can not allow the Bills to begin to pull away at any stage of the game. The offense has to help the defense and force Buffalo to stay aggressive on offense rather than allowing them to sit on the football and try to drain the clock and put the game away with a late FG. You have to play the game from ahead to beat the Buffalo Bills.
The Jets special teams have become a major cause for concern outside of Leon Washington’s amazing year returning kicks and punts. The kickers are both poor and Jay Feely is almost a lock to leave at least 3 points on the field and change the momentum every week. The coverage is letting the team down with missed tackles and last week an inexcusable mistake trying to down the football. Buffalo does not do a great job covering punts and they often have very short kickoffs so Washington could be a huge factor this week. Bills kicker Rian Lindell has no leg, but is very accurate inside 45 yards.
This is a very important game for New York. Its an important game for their mental state and the chance to begin to believe they can really compete in the AFC. The Jets faced a similar situation, albeit much later in the year, back in 1994 where they played Miami for first place in the infamous fake spick game. The Jets did not recover from that game for over 3 years. Could this game be that important? Possibly.
The way the Jets are currently playing it is hard to imagine them beating a Bills team on the road. That is not to say they can not do it, but they will have to play their best game of the season in order to win this weekend. No turnovers. No drops. Convert on third down. No easy completions. No blown assignments. No missed tackles. They have yet to really do that this season, but maybe last week was a wakeup call for some on the team. The players all seemed down about their effort against the Chiefs and it seemed to send a better message to them than the Oakland and San Diego games did where the excuses ran wild about traveling out west. Hopefully Mangini read his team the riot act behind closed doors. Too many weeks go by where the reaction from all the players is “we looked at the tape and 1 or 2 things is what got us, we’ll be fine and fix it”, but the players have to begin to be told its not just 1 or 2 things but the overall effort and careless attitude that is a problem.
A win puts the Jets in a potential tie for first place and erases the memories of the past three weeks of bland and terrible football. A loss puts the Jets back at .500 yet again and right in the huge cluster of bad teams in the AFC struggling for a spot. At some point, if the Jets want to be a good and a successful team they need to put together some type of winning streak. Their season high is 2 games and those wins were separated by a bye week. It needs to start here as the Jets are about to begin their hard part of the schedule with 3 road games in the next 4 weeks. If the Jets split these next 2 and are looking at 5-6 going into their November 30th game against the Broncos the season might be over.
The Jets will likely give a decent effort, but the mistakes will prevent them from winning this week as the panic in New York continues.
Bills 27 Jets 17