In Week 18, the Buffalo Bills will be looking to clinch their second consecutive AFC East title and their first at home since 1995. In order to do so, they will have to beat the division rival New York Jets.
It has been a predictably rough season for the Jets. They enter the final week of the season at 4-12 and are coming off a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in which they lost in an inexplicable way. They currently hold both the fourth and seventh picks in the upcoming draft, the latter thanks to Seattle’s struggles in 2021. The Jets could also move up to third overall with a loss and a Texans win.
As was expected of them in 2021, the Jets do not do anything particularly well. They are 25th in points scored, and 21st in total yardage on offense. Part of their offensive woes has been their turnover problems. The Jets have turned the ball over 27 times this season, fifth-worst in the NFL, and they have the second-worst turnover differential at -13.
It has been a tough start to the Zach Wilson era for the Jets. The first-year signal-caller has thrown just eight touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and has completed just 56.7 percent of his passes.
Other rookies on the New York offense have shown more promise than Wilson, like wide receiver Elijah Moore and running back Michael Carter Jr. Wilson still has time to change the narrative surrounding him, but he likely will not fare well against the league’s best pass defense.
The Jets have not been much better on the defensive side of the ball. They are dead last in the NFL in both points and yards allowed. They do, however, have two young players who have flashed promise on an otherwise bleak unit.
Those players are defensive tackle Quinnen Williams and cornerback Bryce Hall. Hall has 16 passes defended in 2021, and Williams has six sacks from the interior of the defensive line. The Jets will likely lose one of their only other defensive players, safety Marcus Maye, to free agency in 2022 after a 2021 season where he played just six games.
The Buffalo Bills are in a completely different situation than their division rivals. They have both an elite offense and an elite defense. They rank third in offensive scoring, and second in defensive scoring.
Josh Allen did not have an elite day throwing the football last week, however, completing just 11 of 26 passes for 120 yards and three interceptions. Allen will look to rebound from what was his worst game as a passer in the NFL.
The Bills will also likely want to keep Devin Singletary heavily involved in the offense this week. Against Atlanta, Singletary carried the ball 23 times for 110 yards and two scores. The rushing offense was also boosted by Josh Allen’s 15 carries for 81 yards and two touchdowns.
If the Buffalo Bills can find a balance between the solid passing efforts by Allen this season and the rushing performance they put together against the Falcons, they might be the most dangerous offense in the AFC.
Buffalo’s defense had another solid effort against the Falcons, making that their third one in a row. They held Atlanta to 265 yards of offense and just under 200 yards through the air.
The pass rush had an outstanding day, dropping Matt Ryan five times for 28 yards. Greg Rousseau had the most impactful one, stripping Matt Ryan of the football and giving the Bills the football. The unit will look to build upon this effort against a young Jets offensive line that has allowed Zach Wilson to be sacked 36 times.
Final Score Prediction: Buffalo Bills 28, New York Jets 10
This may seem like a clear cut win for the Bills, and it might be. However, it is never a good idea to immediately count out the opponent in a division rivalry.
The Jets have shown they can hang with the powerhouses, as seen in their wins against the Titans and Bengals, and in their loss to Tampa Bay last week. The Jets would love nothing more than to spoil Buffalo’s chance to clinch the division at home for the first time in nearly 30 years.
Expect this one to go how the last few Bills-Jets matchups have gone; competitive early, but the Bills pull ahead to defeat their inferior division opponent, this time for the AFC East crown.