Top 3 Individual Matchups
1 – Stevie Johnson vs. Darrelle Revis – The Jets have had Revis follow the opponent’s number one wideout all over the field, and the Bills aren’t expecting any different on Sunday. Chan Gailey will likely have something drawn up however, to get Johnson some playmaking opportunities.
Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage – 1st down – Buffalo’s offense leads the league in average first down yardage gained as they roll up better than seven yards per first down (7.09). Though the Jets are 12th in the NFL in number of first downs allowed per game, the Bills ability to set up short down and distance on second and third down, could help to neutralize New York’s pass rush.
Best advantage –Run game – The Jets have been uncharacteristically leaky against the run this season allowing ball carriers to get to the edges and make yards allowing almost 127 yards a game on the ground.
Bills Number 1 Must
Protecting the ball – This is a common key for any NFL game, but in the Bills-Jets matchups it’s been even more pronounced. In the last six matchups with Buffalo, New York has posted a 5-1 record. In the Jets five wins they have lost the ball a combined four times to Buffalo’s astounding 17 giveaways in that span. Even in their last three home games against the Jets (all losses) the Bills have had seven turnovers to New York’s one. Ball security and coming out ahead in the turnover battle is essential if the Bills are to post a victory.
Run game revival?
The Jets were all enamored with opening up their offense with spread formations, but it wasn’t working early in the season. In their last outing they got back to their run-to-set-up-the-pass approach and were effective against San Diego in a 27-21 victory. New York got a season-high 112 rushing yards from Shonn Greene in the win boosting the Jets average rushing total, but it’s still under 100 yards per game (92.4). Knowing the Jets have averaged 279 rushing yards per game in their last four meetings with the Bills it’s likely that New York will try to grind out yards again Sunday in an effort to set up play action.
Red zone improvements
Despite reaching the AFC Championship game for a second straight season in 2010, the Jets struggled mightily in the red zone scoring touchdowns just 40 percent of the time last season (20-50). That was worst in the AFC and ranked 30th in the league. The Jets set out to improve that production and through their first seven games are noticeably improved. New York ranks fourth in the AFC and sixth in the league in red zone touchdown percentage. They’ve converted touchdowns on 13 of their 21 opportunities (62%). Plaxico Burress was signed almost solely to help Mark Sanchez in the red zone and he finally paid dividends in Week 6 with three red zone touchdown catches in their win over San Diego.
Field position edge
The Jets have always had accomplished special teams units under Mike Westhoff and this year’s edition has been just as productive. Leading the league in kick return average due in large part to Joe McKnight’s gaudy 40 yards per return average, the Jets return team provides their offense with a league best average drive start of their own 27.6-yard line, a full six yards above the league average (21.6). Only four of their 22 kick returns this season have fallen short of their own 20-yard line.
Meanwhile their kick coverage unit has been almost as good. New York has the best kick coverage unit in the AFC and only St. Louis (18.3) has a lower opponent’s average drive start than that of the Jets (19.5). And New York hasn’t been forcing touchbacks to get that low opponent drive start figure. Only nine of their kickoffs have gone for touchbacks, which is second fewest in the league. Forced to cover most of the time the Jets have a league-leading 14 tackles inside the 20.
Keller quietly leading
Jets tight end Dustin Keller is quietly leading the team in receptions (25), receiving yards (372) and receiving average. A reliable target for Mark Sanchez, Keller has also had a couple of big games against the Bills including his two-touchdown effort in a 38-14 win over Buffalo at Ralph Wilson Stadium last season. Keller has a pair of touchdowns on the season good for third most on the club.
Run ‘D’ slipping?
The Jets have been one of the top 10 run defenses for each of the past two seasons, but with Kris Jenkins retired and Shaun Ellis in New England, New York’s run front doesn’t appear quite as stout. New York is ranked 25th against the run with setting the edge one of the more noticeable problems. The loss of OLB Bryan Thomas to an Achilles injury in Week 3 has been costly as the Jets have not been as consistent forcing ball carriers back inside. As a result committing more players to coverage against a spread offense like Buffalo’s may not be feasible as it will leave the Jets more vulnerable to big plays by Fred Jackson.
Under Rex Ryan the Jets have performed very well on the road. In his first two seasons at the helm Ryan’s club has compiled a road record of 15-7 counting four road playoff victories. This season has been a different story. Heading into Sunday’s game the Jets have yet to win on the road. They come to Ralph Wilson Stadium with an 0-3 record away from MetLife Stadium. The problem is a huge disparity in points allowed. In New York’s four home games their defense has allowed an average of just 13.5 points. On the road this season the Jets are giving up an average of 32.6 points per game, almost a 20-point difference.
Quote of the Week
“We have great character on this team. That’s what I like about us. We don’t worry about what the guys are saying on TV about whether we’re real or fake. We know we’re real so we’ll just keep battling and try to win these games.”
Stat of the Week
The Jets are 0-2 under Rex Ryan coming off the bye week.
Milestones in reach
Scott Chandler needs one touchdown reception to set a franchise mark for most touchdown catches in a season by a tight end (7).
The Bills have scored 20 points or more in each of their first seven games this season. Their average point total against the Jets in their last eight meetings is 15.5 points per game.