Both the Bills and the Jets head into the bye after their game on Sunday.
Buffalo has lost four in a row; the Jets have lost three straight. So, recovery and relief are the goal for both AFC East rivals.
Here are some of the issues to keep an eye on as the game approaches:
1. SIMILARITIES BETWEEN BILLS AND JETS
It’s been a struggle for both teams this year, even though the Jets have one more win than Buffalo. They’re both in the “rookie quarterback” business—trying to work their first-round draft pick QBs into the NFL and trying to keep them healthy. Buffalo’s Josh Allen may be ready to return after missing three weeks with a sprained elbow. The Jets Sam Darnold will miss Sunday’s game after injuring his foot last Sunday.
Rich Cimini is the ESPN NFL Nation reporter covering the Jets and he’s been a Jets beat reporter for more than 30-years. He sees plenty of similarities between the Jets and the Bills.
“I think they’re pretty much in the same ballpark,” Cimini told One Bills Live. “They’re rebuilding. The Jets started their rebuilding process maybe a year earlier. They tore down their roster last season, but they didn’t get the quarterback until this year much like the Bills.
“Maybe the Jets are slightly ahead in that respect because I think this offseason in Buffalo you’re going to see a lot of turnover--a lot of roster overhaul. I think maybe the Jets are a little past that stage but they’re still way far away from the Patriots.
2. MORE STRONG PLAY FOR THE BUFFALO DEFENSE?
The scoreboard didn’t reflect it, but the Buffalo defense played one of its’ strongest games of the year last Sunday against the Bears. Chicago was held to 190 yards of offense. This week, the Bills have a chance to hold an opponent under 200-yards of offense for the second straight week. That would be the first time a Buffalo defense has done that in 19-years.
The Jets have struggled moving the ball in their three-game losing streak and they’ve been held to 207 yards or less in two games this year.
3. HUGHES LEADING THE WAY
Veteran defensive end Jerry Hughes has been one of the top performers on the Buffalo defense all year long. He shares the team lead with 4.5 sacks and has consistently been among the league leaders in QB pressures.
STATS LLC, a sports data and technology company, says only two other NFL players have generated more pressure on opposing quarterbacks this year. The Rams Aaron Donald has 65-pressures, the Chiefs Dee Ford has 50, and Buffalo’s Jerry Hughes has 46.
4. HOW TO GET THE OFFENSE GOING?
Buffalo's offense has had a tough go this season. The Bills have scored one total touchdown in the last three games, and they’re averaging less than 7-points scored in those games.
What will it take to get the offense going?
Just one play, according to new WR Terrelle Pryor.
“We need one big play,” he told One Bills Live this week. “We need to taste it, we need to feel it, you know?”
“If we just come out a couple games and we can just come down and make some big plays you know our defense will be riled up we can get a jump on them. I think that happened with Minnesota earlier in the season."
5. YOUTH MAY BE SERVED
If practice reps are any indication, the Bills may be ready to insert at least three first year players in the starting lineup this week.
If he can start Sunday, it would be a return to a starting role for rookie QB Josh Allen, who started five games before his elbow injury.
Fifth round draft pick Wyatt Teller played 17-snaps at guard last Sunday and the Bills may be ready to start him at left guard, in place of Vlad Ducasse.
And free agent pickup Ryan Lewis, picked up off the waiver wire in September, looks like he’s returning to a starting role at CB opposite Tre’Davious White. Lewis acquitted himself well in three starts in September and October.
Defensive coaches from both the Bills and the Jets may be advising their players to be ready to take the ball away. These two teams turn it over as much as any two teams in the league.
Buffalo is last in the NFL with 22-giveaways through nine games. The Jets are 30th, with 20 turnovers.
Nine of the Bills turnovers have occurred in the 4th quarter, (32nd in the league), 7 Jets turnovers have been in the last quarter.
7. LONG TIME PASS RUSH SPECIALIST LIKES QB PROTECTION
It’s been a concerted effort in recent years for the NFL, an effort to protect QBs from unnecessary hits with strict enforcement of rules.
And one long time NFL pass rusher is OK with that.
Former Bills DE Marcellus Wiley spent ten years in the league, four with Buffalo, trying to terrorize opposing QBs.
He was in Buffalo last week as the “Leader of the Charge” and he appeared on One Bills Live a few days ago.
“A lot of people are criticizing what they’re seeing today in football but I’m actually applauding it.” Wiley told the radio show. “I actually like it. I like high scoring even though I’m a former defender. I just think it’s a better entertaining product”
“Football is always going to be a brutal sport,” Wiley continued. “You’re always going to know you were in a battle, in a war, but at the same time if you want to make it safer at the margins I don’t see anything wrong with that. Protecting the investments, which are quarterbacks, and trying to make the passing game be accented so we can see more points. I just don’t see the issues with it.”
Wiley currently works as a host on FS1’s show, “Speak for Yourself.” He is also the author of a recently published book about his career, “Never Shut Up.”