Jets at Bills: Showdown for AFC East Dominance

Posted: November 3, 2011 by ndbohlen in Jets, NFL, Prediction
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Nick: Your New York Jets on the road against the Buffalo Bills. You are just one game back of the Bills and the Patriots in the AFC East standings heading into Week 9. With a little help from the New York Giants (I am pretty sure they only exist to split the rent at MetLife Stadium, making them doubly evil), the Jets could be sitting in a three-way tie atop the AFC East with a win on Sunday. Needless to say, this is an important divisional match-up for you, Michael – I hope you’re Tebowing like crazy (apparently crying is admissible while Tebowing).

On one side of the ball, the high-flyin’ Bills offense clashes against the stingy Jets defense. The Bills are 10th in total offense (with 380.1 yards per game), but 3rd in points per game at 30.1. Meanwhile, the Jets are 8th in the league allowing 323.1 yards per game, but only 14th in giving up 21.7 points each week. That seems like a pretty even playing field.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, ink barely dry on his brand new $59 million contract, has played surprisingly well this year. He has 14 touchdowns to just 7 picks, a completion percentage of 67.7, and a remarkable passer rating of 97.8. That said, he only has one game where he’s thrown for over 300 yards. (Against – who else – the Patriots secondary, of course. Excuse me while I commit seppuku.) In other words, I’m not sold on Fitzy as a legitimate quarterback, particularly against the Jets secondary that has been – and I say this extremely begrudgingly – half-decent. (That’s the highest compliment you’re going to get out of me, so enjoy it.)

If the Bills are going to win, Fred Jackson, the Bills’ sneaky awesome running back, will lead their top-five rushing attack against the Jets surprisingly poor front seven. If BenJarvus Green-Ellis of the Pats was able to find holes at the line, Fred Jackson and his 5.5 yards per carry should be able to do the same. I think he also could be able to move the chains on a lot of dump-offs and check-downs.

On the other side of the ball, the mediocre Jets offense runs into a middling Bills defense (they both fall down crying). I think I have made my thoughts on Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez abundantly clear, but let me reiterate my feelings. The only way I could possibly find anything good to say about Sanchez would be if I were an irrational, homeschooled, six-year-old Jets fan who suffers from a horrible case of ADHD that prevents me from ever seeing more than a split-second of Sanchez on a football field to be able to notice how truly bad he is as a quarterback. Thus, the only positive things I could find to say would compliment his “intangibles” and the ridiculous notion that he is particularly adept at faking handoffs for the play-action pass. In short, Mark Sanchez is only good at looking pretty for high school girls and magazine photo shoots. (Don’t worry, Mike, I’ll buy you a new copy of GQ with pages that aren’t stuck together.)

That said, even Sanchez might be able to throw the ball against the Bills. They rank 24th in pass defense, giving up 265.9 yards per game. While they tallied nine sacks against John Beck and the Redskins last week, they only had four sacks in six previous games. The Bills may not be Patriots bad, but the Jets still might actually be able to move the ball!

Sanchez will be aided by Shonn “My name is spelled phonetically” Greene and the running game. The Jets are ranked 28th with 92 rushing yards per game, but Greene finally played well last week and piled up 112 yards on 20 carries against the San Diego Chargers. I think the Jets will continue to utilize a balanced offensive attack, control the ball, and try to put together long, extended drives (I know that is a hard concept for you to grasp, at least sexually, but I have faith in you, Michael).

For me, the key to this game is turnover differential. The Bills are first with 18 takeaways and only 9 giveaways, for a plus-9 differential. The Jets are a distant 3rd at plus-3, with 16 takeaways to 13 giveaways. In their five wins, the Bills have forced 16 turnovers. So if the Bills can make Sanchez uncomfortable, force him into quick throws, and create some turnovers, then I like their chances. That is, of course, provided that Fitzpatrick holds up his end of the bargain and treasures the ball as much as his Harvard degree.

Otherwise, I think the Jets have a favorable matchup. Rex Ryan is coming off an extra week to think up some crazy blitz packages to confuse Fitzpatrick (when he’s not lost in his foot fetish daydreams), and the offense might even be finding its rhythm (the Little Engine that could!). It helps that they decided to switch back to the swaddling-cloth playbook so Sanchez doesn’t crap himself every time he drops back to pass.

My only hesitation is that the Bills are perfect at home and the Jets are winless on the road. Trends can’t go on forever, though. I mean, look at you – if you finally managed to stop lathering your scrotum in peanut butter and serving it to stray dogs, anything is possible.

My point is, I think the Jets are going to win their third in a row.

Who cares if my logic is such that if the Jets win, I get to brag that I’m right, and if they lose, I get to rub it in your face that the Jets are 4-4?

Final Score: Jets 27, Bills 24

Mike: You’re right, Nick, this game is huge. If the Jets can pull into a three-way tie atop the AFC East, that sets up another epic showdown between the Jets and Pats (oh, how my balls are tingling!) on Sunday night at Metlife Stadium. Even if the Pats win this Sunday, that still sets up an amazing clash. And speaking of Tebow, guess who the Jets play three weeks down the road! I know I’m supposed to preview this week’s game, but I just can’t wait to see Mohammed Wilkerson do a Muslim interpretation of the Tebow.

This game will be about as run-happy as it gets. The Jets and Bills both have a run-to-pass ratio of about 50-50. But the statistics that matter most here: Fred Jackson’s 5.5 yards per carry, and the Bills’ defensive line allowing 4.9 per rush. On average, the Jets only allow 4.2 per rush attempt, but the Cowboys allowed fewer than 90 rushing yards per game before they visited Philly… with the right opponent, these averages can change really fast. The Bills have 9 runs for 20+ yards, the Jets have allowed 5, the longest of which went for 70 yards. I don’t think I could have said it better, Nick, long, extended drives will rule the day. (And you know damn well that my long, extended drives rule the night.) With NT Kyle Williams still out with a foot injury, the Jets will take advantage of the Bills’ porous D-line like Julian Edelman does with women in bars.

This is another Jets game with some moderately interesting player story lines. (For the record, I think all these storylines are complete crap. They play for money, not redemption, payback, or emotional catharsis. Get over it. They’re not in high school.) Brad Smith, Mr. Wildcat, was not re-signed in the shortened free agency period. But Smith hasn’t been explosive for the Bills on special teams or in the wildcat formation. Mayhem Maybin was released by the Bills with barely a tackle to his name, but now has three sacks, three forced fumbles, and six total tackles (four unassisted). I guess Brad Smith has a reason to be slightly annoyed with the Jets front office. But he’s on a team that has 5 wins, so why should he care? And Maybin might have felt slighted by being dropped, but he got an undeserved second chance and he’s playing better than ever, so why would he hold anything against the Bills’ front office? Like I said, storylines in sports are dumb. Beyond franchise rivalries in which bench-clearing brawls are the norm, who cares? Why should I want my team to win more or less based on some personal story? Trust me, I’m a lunatic on Sundays regardless of the personal circumstances of the players on the field.

For the most part, I agree with you on the turnovers. The Bills’ defense has an uncanny ability to give their offense extra opportunities… 18 turnovers in 7 games. And they have incredible luck in recovering fumbles. They’ve recovered every single one. But they’ve lost 15 straight games in which they did not force a turnover. Their defense doesn’t stand a chance if they can’t take the ball away. Between the Bills’ weak rush-defense and the fact that the Jets have averaged 279 rushing yards in games against the Bills since Rex took over, I doubt that Brian Schottenheimer will be stupid enough to call passing plays. They picked off Brady four times. There’s no reason to see if they can do it again. (I beg you, Brian.)

The reason for Fitzy’s low yardage totals is because he doesn’t really air it out down field. His longest completion was 60 yards to Naaman Roosevelt. He punishes teams with his quick deliveries. His average yards per completion is third lowest in the league. Yet, somehow, both the Jets and Bills have 21 receptions for more than 20 yards. (The real difference, surprise surprise, is the number of long receptions allowed: Jets 18, Bills 27).

Revis Christ was quoted this week saying, “They’re the same team, they’re just playing better.” In other words, they’ve finally gelled and can play together. Disrupting the Bills’ togetherness will be key for the Jets to stop Fitzy and the offense.

One trend is certain to continue this week: Jets dominance over the Bills. Jets win coming off the bye: 30-27.

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