Sunday, November 17, 2013

Four Point Stance: Jets at Bills


The New York Jets (5-4) and Buffalo Bills (3-7) entered the season in somewhat similar situations but are trending in opposite directions past the halfway point. Gang Green is off to a surprisingly positive start and coming off an impressive victory over the New Orleans Saints, while Buffalo has lost five of its last six games.

New York looks to strengthen its hold on the AFC's final Wildcard spot by completing the sweep of its cross-state division rival, a task that won't necessarily be easy in the unfriendly confines of The Ralph.

With a loss, the Jets would be the first team in NFL history to start their season rotating wins and losses in its first 10 games. The Bills would be more than happy to help New York earn that record.

When the Jets have the ball:
Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith abused the Bills' depleted secondary, namely Justin Rogers, in the teams' last matchup, hitting Stephen Hill and Santonio Holmes for sideline touchdown bombs to lift New York to a win. This time around, the Bills look much different. Top cornerback Stephon Gilmore is back on the field and at full speed opposite fellow starting corner Leodis McKelvin. Also, safety Jairus Byrd has since made his return to anchoring the Bills' backfield. With the Jets' running game rolling of late, they'd be best served going that route early and often to set up play action later on.

When the Bills have the ball:
Bills first-year signal-caller E.J. Manuel missed four games this season, but he's been available for both of his team's matchups with their division rival in green. The Jets sacked Manuel eight times in their September meeting and will certainly look to rattle the young signal-caller, who is still trying to get his feet back under him, in the rematch. Manuel will be without his top two wide receivers in Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods, so like Smith, he'll rely heavily on his tailbacks in this one. Coincidentally, the Jets boast the league's best run defense.

Tight ends. New York gets back tight ends Kellen Winslow and Jeff Cumberland, both of whom were top targets for Smith prior to their respective absences from the lineup. Smith will look to get them involved early. Meanwhile, Bills tight end Scott Chandler had a strong game in Week 3 against the Jets and should be a big part of what Buffalo does Sunday with a limited number of reliable hands running routes. A touchdown reception by a tight end will be the difference.

The Jets have won nine of their last 11 bouts with the Bills, including seven of the last eight. However, Buffalo still leads the overall head-to-head series by a 55-51 margin. In the team's last meeting, Gang Green was able to overcome a record-setting amount of penalties with a 27-20 victory earlier this year.

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