Author: NEIL REYNOLDS
The New York Jets face a division rival who they defeated in dramatic fashion in Week 1 in the Buffalo Bills. On the night Aaron Rodgers went down with an Achilles tear, the Jets recorded a 22-16 overtime win that was capped by a thrilling 65-yard punt return touchdown from Xavier Gipson.
Repeating that feat will require the Jets to figure out one of the most perplexing teams in the NFL in the Bills. Buffalo have lost two in a row and three of their last four to fall to a hugely disappointing 5-5. This week, some of their recent failings resulted in the firing of offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey.
Quarterback Josh Allen is the epitome of Buffalo’s up and down season. He leads the NFL with 26 total touchdowns but also has 14 giveaways. Buffalo are third in the NFL with an average of 6.0 yards per play and they are among the league’s best on third downs and in the red zone. Yet they also have 18 total turnovers – second-most in the NFL this season.
With the Bills traditionally being stronger through the air, it should fall upon the Jets’ excellent pass defense which currently ranks third in the NFL to keep Allen off balance as he attempts to get on the same page as new play-caller, Joe Brady.
The Jets have also dropped their last two games and have failed to score an offensive touchdown in either of those outings. They have been quick to address that situation with a players-only meeting this week.
Wide receiver Garrett Wilson said: “It was just us and we got to make sure we are all on the same page about where we are at and how the hell we get out of this funk. We talked and hopefully it leads to results… it doesn’t guarantee anything. This has been something that has weighed heavy on all the players on offense because we want to go out there and perform and leave a legacy and have a chance to win a Super Bowl. That is what we all signed up for and what we believe we have.”
The Jets remain very much alive in a crowded AFC playoff race and are just one win off the final spot in the playoffs, which is currently occupied by the Houston Texans. But they don’t have a huge amount of room for error and that is reflected by the urgency shown within the team facility this week. All that remains now is to go out and get the job done against an inconsistent Bills squad.
New York Jets Player to Watch
C.J. Mosley - Linebacker
Having just said that Buffalo are a pass-heavy team, defending the run could be vital in Sunday’s game. The Bills have talked about the need to find more balance in their attack and new play-callers often come in and send a message by completely flipping the script. If the Bills come out running, New York will be ready with one of the elite linebackers in the game in C.J. Mosley. The 10-year veteran remains as fresh as ever and has recorded a team-leading 96 tackles in nine games. Pro Football Focus has Mosley as their highest-graded linebacker in the league with a rating of 90.1.
Buffalo Bills Player to Watch
Josh Allen - Quarterback
While he has blown hot and cold and been responsible for both wins and losses in 2023, the Bills still rely on Josh Allen at quarterback. And if there is to be a run to the Super Bowl, it will still be powered by their Pro Bowl passer. Allen ranks fourth in the NFL with 2,600 passing yards in 2023 and he leads the league with 19 touchdown strikes. He also leads the NFL with 11 interceptions, offering turnover hope to the Jets.
Josh Allen has a career passer rating of 79.0 when facing the New York Jets. In 10 career games, Allen has a 6-4 record but has only thrown nine touchdown passes compared to 10 interceptions. He has lost two of his last three games to the Jets. In Buffalo’s Week 1 loss to the Jets, Allen threw three interceptions and lost a fumble.
Keys to the game
Take the football away! It all starts there for the Jets. That is the case every week as a fearsome defense attempts to help an offense yet to fire on all cylinders. But that especially has to be the case this week given Buffalo’s total disregard for looking after the football. The Bills may play things closer to their vest this weekend and attempt to establish more of a rushing attack. But the Jets have the bodies to shut that down. And if Allen is forced into difficult passing situations, those are opportunities for New York to strike.
Offensively, the Jets have to wake from their offensive slumber. If the passing game can have more success, the dangerous Breece Hall might discover a little more room to run. New York rushed for 172 yards in that Week 1 win over the Bills, but Hall has not topped 50 rushing yards in game since going off for 177 yards and a touchdown against the Denver Broncos in Week 5. Hall is the focal point of this attack, but the key to his success might actually lie in the hands of quarterback Zach Wilson and receiver Garrett Wilson.