The fun times continue for Bills fans, as their beloved Bills go into Sunday’s game against the NY Jets at Met Life Stadium (in New Jersey!) as 11 ½ point favorites. This is despite the fact the vastly improved Jets are 5-3 under 2nd year coach Robert Saleh. Although 6-1, this is a division game for the Bills, and that alone makes it big knowing the Jets could suddenly move within a half game of the Bills.
These aren’t the same old Jets under Saleh. The former 49ers Defensive Coordinator, somewhat like Bills coach Sean McDermott, is all about changing the culture in the organization, and his plan is working under the direction of GM Joe Douglas. They’ve purged some bad attitudes and drafted well, but the obvious problem they have, is that they don’t have Josh Allen. Second year qb Zach Wilson is an enigma inside a conundrum. Strong arm and some mobility, and accurate when not under pressure.
And there’s the rub. Unlike Allen, Mahomes and a few others who are actually BETTER under pressure, Wilson has happy feet and too often bails out before he really has to. This was especially apparent in last week’s 22-17 home loss to the Patriots. Wilson threw for just over 350 yards (yay!) but also was under 50% (20/41) with THREE (boo!) interceptions.
Offensively the Bills are close to full strength, plus they’ve added some speed and depth by acquiring running back/kick returner Nyheim Hines, who just started practicing and probably won’t play much if any.
Allen will enter this game with a chip on his shoulder, which is probably a good thing if he doesn’t try to run over everybody. The Bills and Allen clearly lost some focus in last week’s 27-17 win over the Packers after jumping out to a 24-7 halftime lead. The Bills didn’t score a touchdown and Allen threw two interceptions in the 4th quarter, after not throwing ANY in 6 games prior to this one. It’s hard to say, but Allen might have become impatient watching the Packers settle for running the ball and chewing clock, and forced a couple throws he normally wouldn’t make. We do know it was obvious Allen did his best to put up a positive front after the W, but he clearly wasn’t happy with his performance.
So with the Packers rushing for over 200 yards against the Bills, the logical assumption would be this is a weakness the Jets might exploit. Run the ball, use the clock and keep Allen on the bench.
That’s not gonna happen though. The Bills purposely stayed in their nickel defense against the Packers even though they were getting gouged on the ground, because with a 3 possession lead, they knew the Packers had no chance to win without Aaron Rodgers making some chunk plays with his arm. My gut tells me the Packers knew the game was all but over at the half, and Rodgers would be a sitting duck if they tried to come from behind with a passing attack. Live to fight another day, in other words. They didn’t get blown out and played a respectable game, but they never really threatened after the first quarter.
Defensively the Bills won’t have safety Jordan Poyer after he injured his elbow in the Packers game, and linebackers Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds are questionable. Cornerback Tre White looks fully healthy in practice, but I’m guessing they’ll wait another week before putting him back on the field after one full year recovering from a torn ACL.
Against the Jets, the running lanes open to the Packers won’t be there most likely. The Bills think their 4-man front can pressure Wilson enough to drop 7 yet still control the running game enough to put Wilson in some third and long situations.
This will be a tough, physical game and the Jets crowd will be a factor until the Bills do something to quiet them a bit.
I don’t see a high scoring game, but I do see a Bills win…..24-10.
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