As the weather cools and fall begins to settle in Buffalo, NY, Week 3 has approached us. The Bills take their act to the Big Apple, to face the sports-circus otherwise known as the New York Jets. Led by Geno Smith, E.J. and the crew have their work cut out for them on their first road game of the 2013 season. This will be the first time in the teams’ 106 meetings that both will be lead by rookie QBs. Beyond the typical fanfare that a Bills-Jets game provides, there are a few key points fans should expect in the “Separation of AFC Pretenders and Contenders” game.
E.J. will see his first real test today. While both New England and Carolina certainly did not have pushover defenses, New York has shown that it can hang around too with better teams because of its defense (right now the #2 defense in the league). We all know that Buffalo’s defensive coordinator, Mike Pettine, is a disciple under Rex Ryan, but don’t think for a second Rex won’t throw the kitchen sink at Manuel. Defense will be key today, and how Buffalo responds to New York will be the determining factor in the outcome. Look for: 2nd year man Colin Brown vs Sheldon Richardson or Muhammad Wilkerson, whichever lines up against him. Both Richardson and Wilkerson are coming off injuries (both listed as probable for today’s game), but Brown has been the weakest link on the O-Line so far for the Bills. Expect C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson to get into the action there to protect Manuel.
Mike Pettine will get very creative. It is easy to write off Mike Pettine as using the same approach in Buffalo as he did in New York, especially being only one year removed, but don’t think for a second that Pettine is a one-trick pony. What made Pettine so respected and the Jets’ D feared is his creativity and pressure packages, something to expect today. Mario Williams didn’t cause 4.5 sacks last week running the same stunts and bull rushes, so look for more of that today. Pettine also showed great courage in throwing Kiko Alonso in a delayed blitz the final play of the game against Cam Newton, causing a sack that ended the game. Look for: Mario Williams. And good luck finding him. Mario will be moving around so much today the Jets will think they are playing against a 6-6, 292 lb Harry Houdini. Mario’s versatility should open the door for Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, and Alonso to get in the backfield as well, disrupting the run and giving Geno Smith a run for his money.
The turnover battle will decide the game. Both teams will make numerous rookie and dumb mistakes in this game. Occasionally it is possible to lose the turnover battle but win the war, but I don’t see that happening today. The team that commits the fewer turnovers will go home with a W today, and from what we’ve seen in 2 games that should bode well for the Bills. Nathaniel Hackett will need to bring in extra protection, but assuming the Bills can keep the Jets defense quiet for most of the day, they should be able to move the ball as they wish. Jarius Byrd is listed as questionable for today’s game, however I don’t see him playing much if at all today. Rookies will rule the game and turnovers will decide it. Look for: Buffalo’s DB’s vs Jets’ WRs. If the Bills’ secondary cannot step up and create turnovers against Santonio Holmes and the Jets’ big receivers, it will be a long day for Bills fans.