Buffalo Bills vs. New York Jets: Three Keys to the Game

Well, this is it.

All that’s left for the Buffalo Bills between now and an offseason full of what-ifs and what-could-have-beens is a is a date with the New York Jets.

Sure, this might be a “meaningless” game for the Bills, but it would be a very sweet victory for each one of the players and members of the coaching staff.

Do you think Rex Ryan wants to lose and watch the team that fired him waltz into the playoffs? Do you think guys like Eric Wood, Cordy Glenn, Marcell Dareus and Leodis McKelvin want to lose to the quarterback that wasn’t good enough to get them in the playoffs and was abruptly cut at the end of the 2012 season? No, they do not.

The opportunity to beat the Jets for a second time this season and possibly preventing them from the playoffs is more than enough motivation to come ready to play.

While you’re disappointed Bills fans with the 2015 season, and rightfully so, just remember that this is the last time you’ll see you’re favorite team take the field for eight months. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Here’s this week’s Three Keys to the Game for the matchup with the Jets, which kicks off Sunday at 1 p.m. from Ralph Wilson Stadium:

1) Shut down Fitzmagic.

Will the real Ryan Fitzpatrick please stand up?

Bills fans everywhere are shocked week after week to see Fitzpatrick have the best season of his career. He continues to leave everyone wondering, “Why couldn’t it have been with us?”

At some point something has to give. And what better time than Week 17 with the playoffs on the line? Remember, there’s a reason Fitzpatrick has been on four different teams in four years.

The biggest key this week is to shut down the Jets’ pass offense.

Believe it or not, it’s really the only way they move the ball consistently. While the Jets are 11th in the league in rushing, lead back Chris Ivory has been ineffective at times this season and with Bilal Powell possibly out Sunday, the Jets could be in trouble on the ground.

With Stephon Gilmore on injured reserve and Ronald Darby not at 100 percent the Buffalo pass rush is going to be even more important this week.

This is one last chance for Mario Williams to step up.

Williams has been at the center of a whole lot of criticism this week about having checked out. Williams says he hasn’t, and if that’s true then Week 17 is the perfect time to prove it.

2) Feed Sammy Watkins the ball.

While it didn’t show in the boxscore during the last meeting, Sammy Watkins got the better of Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis regularly.

Watkins is one of the hottest wide receivers in the league right now, and is only 89 yards from 1,000.

Considering the rapport has continued to grow between Watkins and Tyrod Taylor and the two have had success against elite cornerbacks in the past, there’s no reason the former Clemson wide receiver shouldn’t be fed the ball once again.

Don’t be surprised if Taylor throws it to Watkins deep during the first drive Sunday, just like he did the first time around. Maybe this time Watkins will catch it.

3) Protect Tyrod Taylor.

The Bills offensive line has been one of the more pleasant surprises this season, and it was no more evident than last week’s impressive 236 yards on the ground.

However, if there’s one criticism of this unit it’s that it has struggled to protect the quarterback at times this season, and it was something the offensive linemen struggled with Week 10 as well.

If the Bills want to win this game, they have to protect Taylor. The former dual-threat quarterback was running for his life the last time the Bills faced New York, and this time he doesn’t have Charles Clay and Robert Woods to throw to.

Taylor needs to be protected this week so he doesn’t put himself in danger by extending the play at unnecessary times.

If Taylor can stay in the pocket and have time to deliver the ball, the Bills will score enough points to beat the Jets.

Prediction: Bills win 24-21

It’s a close one, but the Jets go home packing. Watkins records his sixth straight game of at least 80 yards receiving. The Bills defense does just enough to limit the Jets passing game. Williams has a game to remember in what will most likely be his last time wearing a Buffalo uniform.

See you next year!