Three Keys: Bills vs. Jets


One team, the last-place New York Jets, is coming off of a heartbreaking loss with a blocked field goal ending their game with the New England Patriots 27-25. The other, the second-place Buffalo Bills, is coming off a game that they probably shouldn’t have won, but did thanks to a great drive put together by Kyle Orton, a miraculous catch by Chris Hogan, and a last-second TD catch by Sammy Watkins who had another great game. Now the two teams meet at MetLife Stadium for a 1:00 showdown Sunday afternoon. This is a matchup of two teams that are heading in opposite directions, with the Jets losing six in a row and close to playing spoiler already, and the Bills right in the thick of a playoff hunt. But the Bills are in the middle of a MetLife curse, as all four games played at the new stadium in East Rutherford, NJ have ended in Jets victories. Here are three things to look for in Sunday’s matchup:

1) Sammy Watkins vs. depleted Jets secondary

When their top corner at the start of the season went on IR, the Jets had a problem in an already depleted secondary. With Dee Milliner on IR, New York has to turn to Antonio Allen who has not really done as well as the Jets have hoped. He had a good game last week, so maybe that is signaling a turnaround for the South Carolina graduate. But as for the secondary as a whole, it has been a problem, especially against the more explosive passing attacks in the league. Kyle Orton and this Bills offense is one of four teams to have a completion percentage of 63% or more in the last three games, and it’s safe to say that the Bills have the weapons to attack this secondary. Jordy Nelson went nuts for 209 yards in week 2, Alshon Jeffery was able to put up 105 yards against this DB core in week 3,  and Golden Tate accumulated 116 yards in week 4. He will be going up against probably one of the most promising young receivers in the league in Watkins, who has shown that he can play very well but has been known to have a couple off games. Watkins has broken the 100-yard mark twice in his young career, as well as turning in a seven-catch, 87-yard game against the Detroit Lions. If the Bills are going to win this game, the rookie receiver out of Clemson will need a game like he had last week, catching a pair of touchdowns in the 17-16 comeback victory against the Vikings.  When the Jets allow 250 yards or more passing, they are 0-4.

2) Battle in the trenches

Oct 19, 2014; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills running back

Anthony Dixon

(26) pictured here running against the Vikings, will be a huge part of the Bills rushing attack Sunday in New York. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

This is a matchup of the two best run-defenses in the league, and with the Bills being down their top two running backs, it’ll be interesting to see how the Jets attack the duo of Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon. Buffalo is fourth in the league, averaging 80.4 yards per game, while the Jets are eighth in the league, allowing only 88 yards on the ground per game. The Jets rushing attack has been the lone bright spot on that offense, running for 135 per game with the duo of Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson. The signing of Johnson has been a little underwhelming, as he has gone for 261 yards, averaging 4.1 yards per carry and a touchdown. But the real star in the rushing attack has been Ivory. He’s rushed for 432 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 4.9 yards per carry. The key to the game for Buffalo will be to contain the run game and force Geno Smith to win a football game without a rushing attack, which he has not been able to do this season. The Bills D-line will have to get pressure on said quarterback as well, which has not been a problem all season. Buffalo leads the league with 24 sacks, and the Jets have allowed the 7th-most sacks in the league, letting 18 of them occur. The Jets pass rush has also been effective, totaling 20 sacks on the year. The Bills offensive line has been a problem, allowing 19 sacks. So this is a true game of whoever controls the line of scrimmage will likely go on to win this game.

3) Who are all these new guys?

Both teams will have new faces in their starting lineup on Sunday, with the Bills sporting two new running backs and the Jets starting a new receiver in a trade that you may have heard about late last week. Starting in Buffalo, with C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson out, Brown and Dixon will be taking the handoffs. Dixon is the only one who has carried the ball this season and will most likely be the #1 back. He is averaging 5.1 yards per carry on 27 carries this season, including a 47-yard burst in Chicago week 1. He turned in a 13-carry, 51-yard performance when he was given the carries after Spiller and Jackson went out against the Vikings. Last season for the Eagles, Brown tallied 4.2 yards per carry and a pair of touchdowns behind LeSean McCoy. The Jets also will have a new starter on the field, as they traded for Percy Harvin. Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz has coached against Harvin multiple times, mostly when Schwartz was in Minnesota and Schwartz was in Detroit. His defenses has held Harvin to 5.4 receptions per game and 51.9 yards per game, compared to 5 receptions per game and 58.3 yards per game against other defenses. The new guys are going to play a huge part in this one to decide the winner.


The defenses are both very good and very similar, so they will cancel out. But where the Bills have their advantage is the passing game, where Orton has been better than Smith and that’s where the difference of the game will be. It will be a defensive slugfest, but I think the Bills get their first win at MetLife Stadium.

16. Final. 10. 30. 17