BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Buffalo Bills are putting their undefeated division record on the line on Sunday when they travel to MetLife Stadium to take on the Jets. They're also coming off the worst loss of their season, and maybe one of their worst losses since Sean McDermott took over in Buffalo. Can the Bills flip the script against New York?
It's too early to hit the panic button. But if the Bills lose to the Jets, you can smash that button as hard as you'd like.
Even after scoring just six points against the Jags, the Bills are averaging more than 29 points per game, the fourth-best average in the NFL. Veteran wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders was asked about the Bills' recent struggles on offense and shared some great perspective.
"It's one of those things where you sit back and ask, do you lose or do you learn?" Sanders said Thursday. "I feel like yeah, we lost this game, but it's a learning experience for us all, in terms of what we do best and how we can be at our best. We can see a bigger picture of us going into the playoffs and the style of football we want to play and I feel like, hopefully, this loss that we just had is a learning lesson for us in terms of the brand of football we want to play."
So what brand do the Bills want to play? Well, that's likely different from the brand they'll need to play. Jacksonville and Miami have laid out a blueprint on how to slow down the Bills and that's centered around making the Bills run the ball and attack defenses with quick passes. Unfortunately for the Bills, those are two areas where they struggle.
Against the Jets, the Bills will likely make a more concerted effort to run the ball. If they have some success early, which I believe they will, that should open up opportunities in the passing game. Rookie offensive tackle Spencer Brown is trending in the right direction and will be a huge boost to the run game if he can play. Matt Breida could also see some action on Sunday, as Zack Moss continues working back from a concussion.
The Jets aren't a walk in the park but the Bills need to take care of business against a weaker opponent and I believe they will.
Bills: 27, Jets: 16
Season record: 5-3
Do I think the Bills will coast to a win? No. Do I think the Jets can win this one? Yes. Do I want a mob of Bills fans coming after me? No. That's why I'm taking the Bills, but quite frankly, they have to impress me if I'm picking them as many times as I originally planned to.
Last weekend's game was excruciating to watch at times because the team many predict to make an appearance in this year's Super Bowl looked more like a team that couldn't compete against arguably one of the worst teams in the league on either side of the ball.. and that's a massive concern.
This Bills offense has continually had the same issues since the start of the season - we're talking about the run game, the red zone efficiency, turnovers, and as of late, pass protection. For as many weapons and talent the Bills have on that side of the ball, it's something that needs to be fixed now because those struggles aren't going to win you many games, especially with the schedule the Bills have coming up here.
That being said, the New York Jets are similar to the Jaguars in that they just aren't consistent at all. They can have a good game here and there, but for the most part - they can't compete with a lot of teams in this league, including the Bills on a bad day.
I was tempted to take the Jets because the last time I picked against the Bills, they proved me wrong. But I just can't in good conscience choose a team that shouldn't win and that's what we're looking at this week. I do think it's closer than some expect but the Bills should get their 6th win and if they don't.. WOOF.
Bills: 22, Jets: 16
Season record: 4-4
I shouldn't have had to put this much thought into this one. We're talking about the New York Jets. But Buffalo was shown why the cliche of "Any given Sunday" rings true year after year.
All year long, whether it was against a perennial power like the Chiefs or a rebuilder like the Texans, Bills safety Micah Hyde has stressed keeping everything in front of the defense. Buffalo has always wanted to force teams to "nickel and dime" them down the field. But without second overall pick Zach Wilson, that's what the Jets have become good at.
Whether it's former Cowboy Mike White or journeyman Josh Johnson, short throws, high volume, and a west coast style have become the name of the game. It's how the Jets have been spreading the ball around. It's also how New York got their signature win in an otherwise poor season against the Bengals.
This win is going to come down to a rebound game from Buffalo's offense. Up front, the Bills are porous at best. It takes some of the best looks away from Brian Daboll, Josh Allen, and company if whoever has the ball is running for their life. While the Jets' record might be something to sneeze at, their front seven isn't.
I'm not ready to hit the panic button just yet. But if Buffalo can't pull out a road win after the Jets, I might be.
Bills: 23, Jets 17
Season record: 4-4