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3 key matchups to follow for Bills vs. Jets | Scouting Report


3 key matchups

1. Taron Johnson vs. Jamison Crowder

Coming off a matchup with Julian Edelman, the task gets no easier against the Jets leading receiver in Crowder. The veteran slot receiver leads the Jets in receptions, receiving yards and is tied for the team lead in touchdown catches.

2. Jordan Phillips vs. Jonotthan Harrison

Buffalo's sack leader has been a handful inside for most opponents and Harrison will need help against the big and powerful defensive tackle. Otherwise Phillips will make life for the Jets backs and Sam Darnold difficult.

3. Devin Singletary vs. Jets run defense

The New York run defense looks a lot different than it did at the start of the season, but it's still ranked second in the league giving up fewer than 88 yards on the ground per game. Singletary is different too as he's now the lead back and has been among the league leaders in yards per carry average all season.

2 Things to know about the opponent

Still struggling to run it

The Jets made a big splash in free agency with the signing of Le'Veon Bell, but they haven't been able to maximize the back's talents in the run game this season. New York ranks 31st in rushing offense and Bell himself is averaging just 3.3 yards per carry, a career low. Though the team fared well running the ball vs. Baltimore two weeks ago (4.3/avg.) they struggled against Pittsburgh (2.7/avg.).

Darnold still working toward consistency

New York's QB is not turning the ball over as much down the stretch with 11 touchdowns and just three interceptions in his last six games, but the offense is just 3-for-7 in their last four games scoring touchdowns in the red zone.

1 Thing that could decide the game

Who's in and who's out

Head coach Sean McDermott intends to play most of his starters in an effort to keep his units sharp heading into the postseason. But most are not expected to play the entire game. Who is in and who is out could impact how effective Buffalo is on offense, defense and special teams. The outcome of the game has no impact on the Bills playoff positioning, but if key players are watching it could make earning their 11th win a bit more challenging.


-- Jets 1st down defense is stout: Despite all the struggles the Jets have experienced winning games, there is no questioning their first down defense. New York leads the league in net yards per play allowed on first down at just 4.2 yards and also leads the NFL in opponent first down efficiency, giving up four yards or more on first down just over 40 percent of the time.

The Jets hand opponents negative outcomes on run plays more than 14 percent of the time, which is also a league-leading mark.

-- Still lacking big play ability: New York's offense has had trouble generating big plays over the course of the season. When it comes to total plays of 20 yards or more, the Jets have just 30, which ranks 31st in the league.

-- Emerging return man: The Jets chose not to re-sign veteran return man Andre Roberts, who now plays for the Bills. But they may have found a quality punt returner in Braxton Berrios. Claimed off waivers from New England early in the season, Berrios has been a shot in the arm for the Jets punt return game. He currently leads the NFL in punt return average with a mark of 11.6 yards per return. That's one less return that the New York offense needs to get on every possession to reach scoring territory.

-- Third down a troubling one for Jets: The Jets still have problems on offense when it comes to converting on third down. They move the sticks at a rate of just over 30 percent (30.3), which is last in the league. It's also a big reason why the Jets offense goes three-and-out on their possessions more than any other team in football. New York possessions last just three plays before having to punt almost 31 percent of the time (30.7).

Scroll through to see the best photos from Buffalo's practice as they prepare for Week 17 against the New York Jets.

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