The Buffalo Bills return to divisional play on Sunday when they take a short flight to New Jersey to take on the New York Jets. Buffalo comes into this one with the best record in the AFC at 6-1. The Jets are 5-3 and have won four of their last five games. The Bills have played just one AFC East game this season, a loss to Miami in Week 3, giving this game a touch more meaning. Here are the top five things I believe Buffalo needs to do to bring another victory back to Orchard Park.
Let Allen Soar
Josh Allen is 5-2 vs. the Jets in his career, but his stats aren’t all that impressive. The Bills QB has just seven touchdowns to five interceptions while passing for 241.3 yards per game. Now there is a caveat to all of these numbers: Allen gets credit for a start in a game where he completed three passes for five yards before Matt Barkley came in to finish things up in a 13-6 loss. Remove that game and Allen is 5-1 with an average of 280.7 yards per game. Even with that, the seven TDs to five picks are still gross. It’s time to let Josh be Josh and continue the MVP pace he is on this year. Entering Week 9, Allen is trending towards 5,338 yards passing with 46 touchdowns on the year. Those averages will do just fine in this matchup.
Zach Wilson has not been good this year. To be honest, he has been bad! The Bills need to just keep him on his current trajectory and things will come up aces. Entering this contest, Wilson is grading out by Pro Football Focus (PFF) as one of the worst QBs in the league. His passing grade of 51.4 is 36th out of 39 qualified quarterbacks. The Jets’ offense, as a whole, with him under center is also ranked 36th out of 39 teams. Now, you might be asking: “but Greg, isn’t he an athletic QB?” This is an accurate statement, and Wilson’s running grade rockets all the way up to 30th out of the 39 QBs. The Bills’ defense doesn’t need a special performance to lock down Wilson, they just need to let him do his thing and the rest should take care of itself.
Take Care of the Ball
The Jets’ best chance in this game could rest in their ability to force turnovers. As of Week 9, they have eight interceptions, which is just two behind Pittsburgh and New England who are tied with ten. New York also capitalizes on opponents passing mistakes, bringing in 3.23% of passes for interceptions, per TeamRankings.com. This is the fifth-best pick percentage in the league. They also have recovered four fumbles through their eight games this season. The good news is that Buffalo is one of the best teams at taking care of the ball with a +.3 turnovers per game, ranking them seventh in the NFL in that category. If Allen and company can take care of the ball and not allow Robert Saleh’s bunch to get points on defense or create short fields, the Bills should be on their way to 7-1.
The Jets are more than willing to give opponents free yards and short distances to first downs via penalties. Their 6.5 penalties per game are 25th, and the 70.9 yards given away on those penalties is 31st. The 10.9 yards per penalty is last in the league. Basically what I’m saying is allow them to go full Plaxico Burress. On the other side, the Bills are currently 12th in penalties per game and fourth in yards against. Hidden yardage like this can be important in all sports, but with the Jets having such little margin for error, this should only help the Bills that much more.
ALL GAS, NO BREAKS
The Bills and Jets have been two of the best teams in the league at scoring in the second half. Buffalo currently ranks sixth at 12.4 points per with the Jets coming in at eighth, just .1 points behind. Looking at these numbers a little further tells a clearer story. The Bills score 7.7 points in the third quarter, and the Jets just 2.1. As we know, Buffalo has rested its entire offense for fourth quarters this season, and the Jets have been playing close games deep into their contest. Our friends over at BetUs.com have Buffalo favored by 11.5 points with an over/under of 46 giving us an implied score of 29-17 Bills. Should this be the outcome, expect more of the same with New York scrambling for garbage yards and possible points. We’ve seen plenty of teams cough up leads late, a couple have been Buffalo opponents, so once again, ALL GAS, NO BREAKS.