The Buffalo Bills enter Week 9 coming off their 10-point win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football. The Bills still sit atop the AFC with a 6-1 record, including wins over the second, third, and fourth seeds in the AFC playoff picture. Buffalo returns to division play as they make the trip to New Jersey for a matchup with the 5-3 Jets. The Bills are currently 0-1 in the AFC East but are 13-point favorites in this one. Before the game kicks off Sunday afternoon, here are five storylines to keep an eye on when things get underway from East Rutherford, New Jersey.
New York vs. New Jersey
The Bills are one of three teams to have only played one divisional game this season, getting burnt in Miami 21-19 back in week three. They now focus their attention on evening up their mark in the AFC East by visiting New Jersey. The Jets come into this one with a 5-3 record, having won four of five, but are just 1-3 inside MetLife Stadium this year.
Our friends over at BetUs.com have Buffalo as a 13-point favorite, and most of the other numbers also indicate an easy win for the Bills. Buffalo leads the NFL in point differential at +105, the Jets are in the middle of the pack at +17. ESPN’s matchup predictor has the Bills with an over 80% chance to win. We know the games aren’t played on paper, but in the showdown of border states, this one is leaning hard towards the Empire State.
On draft night, Jets’ fourth overall pick, Sauce Gardner, was asked about having to cover the top wide receivers in the AFC East, including Bills’ Stefon Diggs, and the rookie didn’t hide his confidence saying: “I feel like I can go against the best easily.”
When those words left his lips, we all started looking forward to this first matchup. We know what Diggs has done so far this season, he is arguably the best WR in the league. To the rookie’s credit, he is currently cashing the checks his mouth wrote.
Through eight games, he has allowed just 19 receptions on 43 targets for 147 yards, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). Sauce is coming off of a game where he allowed -4 yards in coverage vs. the Patriots. Hopefully, we get to see him one-on-one vs. Diggs for much of this game because it could be a fun battle to watch for years to come.
Zach Wilson can’t be sleeping well as he prepares for the Bills’ defense.
Leslie Frazier’s crew paces the NFL with 11 inceptions. Meanwhile, Wilson has thrown five picks to just three touchdowns. The BYU product’s 54.9% completions are the worst of all QBs who have played more than a pair of games.
The Jets’ offense is mustering less than 210 passing yards per game while Wilson is under center. The putrid numbers go on and on for the Jets’ passing attack under Zach, but you get the point. Even if the NFL’s pick leader, Jordan Poyer, doesn’t play, the Bills should have plenty of chances to take the rock the other way.
There were two main spots we thought the Bills may address at the trade deadline, and Brandon Beane and co. did exactly that by acquiring a safety and a running back. Buffalo traded for a pass-catching back in Nyheim Hines, shipping RB Zack Moss and a conditional sixth-round pick in 2023 to Indy. Beane then brought back safety Dean Marlowe from Atlanta for a seventh-round pick in 2023.
I’ve waxed poetic all season about the Bills’ issues getting major contributions from the running back room, and Hines may give you the instant gratification in the passing game we all hoped to see from rookie James Cook. As for Marlowe, he provides much-needed depth at safety, knows the system, and is insurance should Jordan Poyer be worse than day-to-day.
Since Tre’Davious White went down with an ACL tear last Thanksgiving there have been two main thoughts: I HOPE HE IS OK and WHEN WILL HE RETURN? The answer to the first one is that he’s feeling good to go. The answer to the second is still up in the air as the Bills said the corner is currently dad-to-day. Some have been vocal on social media about how long this comeback has taken, but White made sure everyone knew how hard he’s been working saying “I bust my ass during this process,” at Wednesday’s media availability. While a specific date for the two-time Pro Bowler’s return isn’t set just yet, we know it is getting closer after he was activated to the Bills’ 53-man roster Tuesday. Will it come Sunday vs. the Jets? Only time will tell.