Top 3 Individual Matchups
1 – Austin Howard vs. Mario Williams – It’s only the second NFL start for Jets RT Austin Howard and he’ll be going against Buffalo’s top pass rushing talent. Howard will undoubtedly get help from the Jets’ back and tight ends or Mark Sanchez will be on his back a lot Sunday.
2 – Darrelle Revis vs. Stevie Johnson – Johnson enters the opener as a game time decision, but he had success against Revis with a torn groin last year. The wideout insists his groin issues now are more mental than anything else. We’ll see what the matchup brings Sunday.
3 – Scott Chandler vs. LaRon Landry – This could be the biggest mismatch for the Bills in the passing game knowing Landry is struggling with a heel injury. Chandler has been a machine in the preseason and training camp. Sunday could be a big day for him.
Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage – Kick coverage – Even though the Jets are an accomplished special teams unit, there’s no way to counter a kickoff that goes through the back of the end zone. Rookie kickoff specialist John Potter had 11 of his 13 kickoffs go for touchbacks in the preseason (85%). No returns mean 80 yard fields for New York’s offense.
Best advantage – Bills pass rush – Buffalo spent an awful lot of money to improve their pass rush. The Jets gave up 22 sacks in five preseason game this summer, and just made a switch at right tackle less than two weeks ago. With all four players across Buffalo’s front capable of rushing the passer, the Jets will have to get it out quick or choose someone to double and hope the rest can win their one-on-ones.
Bills Number 1 Must
Run defense – The Jets are not known as an explosive offense. They rely on solid defense and a consistent rushing attack. In the last six meetings New York has averaged 230 rushing yards per game, with a 5.7 yards per carry average winning five of those games.
Ready for no huddle?
The Jets defense had its share of struggles against ‘No Huddle’ attacks last season, the byproduct of poor conditioning more than anything else. So Rex Ryan set out to make sure his team was finely tuned from a conditioning standpoint this summer. The Jets head coach believes that every one of their division rivals will be employing some measure of a ‘no huddle’ attack this season and wants his unit prepared.
New York’s most talked about additions on defense have been at safety position with LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell both signed in the offseason. Landry is a big hitter, but not super strong in coverage. Bell came over from division rival Miami and is familiar with Buffalo’s offense.
Landry however, is battling a heel injury that kept him out of practice Thursday. Their other safety incumbent Eric Smith has already been declared out for Sunday’s game with hip and knee problems. And fourth safety, rookie Josh Bush is coming off a concussion, though he practiced fully this week.
One injury and the Jets will be down to just a pair of safeties. How the new arrivals fare together could say a lot about where the Bills try to exploit New York’s pass defense with the likes of David Nelson and Scott Chandler working the middle of the field.
Pass pro woes
Sure you could say it’s only the preseason, but when you give up 22 sacks in five games and the defenses you’re facing are just as vanilla as your offense it should set off some alarm bells. For the Jets it did as they jettisoned RT Wayne Hunter to St. Louis in exchange for Rams first-round bust Jason Smith. The hope is both benefit from new surroundings. The previously mentioned Austin Howard starts at right tackle. A former tight end in college, Howard has decent feet for a 330-pound man, but is seen as a road grader type. It’s likely that the Jets will use a lot of play action and three-step drop to help Mark Sanchez get the ball out quick knowing Buffalo’s pass rush is much improved.
The New York media would love to see it happen in light of the coverage it’s getting, but Tim Tebow’s package of plays is not expected to be big. The Bills are expecting 10-15 plays for Tebow in their version of the Wildcat package over the course of the game. What’s added to the intrigue is the way in which the Jets have kept it under wraps like a Federally classified document in the preseason.
Tebow part 2
Tebow could line up in any number of places, like fullback down in the red zone or goal line situations. He’s also the signal caller on the punt team, which opens up a world of possibilities for fake punts. So although his role on offense might not have him as the primary ball handler all that much, he figures to see his share of the field in a few different roles.
Coples rolls through
Jets top pick Quinton Coples is not a starting defensive end for New York in their 3-4 system, but he was rather disruptive in the preseason. He led the league in preseason sacks with 4.5 and also had batted passes and his share of quarterback pressures in a rotational role. In his time on the field he’ll be facing another rookie in Bills left tackle Cordy Glenn Sunday.
Quote of the Week
“If we want to be that playoff team, if we want to be that championship team it goes through the Jets, it goes through the Patriots and it goes through the Dolphins. So it’s a great opportunity for us to start our season and see where we’re at. We’re at a division opponent, at a rivalry team like that… I think they’ve beaten us seven of the last eight, so they’ve had our number. It’s time for us to get that hump off our back and make a statement in Week 1.”
--WR David Nelson
Stat of the Week
Under Rex Ryan the Jets defense has allowed an average of 13.7 points per game on opening weekend.
Milestones in reach
Fred Jackson needs 56 rushing yards to move into fourth place on the team’s all-time rushing chart (Travis Henry – 3,849)
Leodis McKelvin needs three kickoff return yards to move into fourth place in team history (Kevin Williams – 1,899)
Mario Williams needs two sacks to reach 55 in his NFL career.
Chan Gailey has a 3-1 record as a head coach on Kickoff Weekend.