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Bills-Jets Preview

Having qualified for the playoffs, the New York Jets aren't concerned about their offense. It's their usually reliable defense that's suddenly a worry.

Facing the last-place Buffalo Bills may present the ideal chance to create momentum for their struggling unit.

The Jets look to cap the regular season by posting their best record in 12 years when they host the Bills on Sunday.

New York (10-5) is in playoffs for a second consecutive season despite losing three of its last four, including a 38-34 defeat at Chicago last week. The Jets, who will likely visit Kansas City or Indianapolis next week, are currently the sixth seed and have only a slim chance to move up to No. 5.

That's not of immediate concern, however.

Coach Rex Ryan is more worried about his defense, which is ranked fourth in the league but hasn't played up to that status recently. It gave up 322 yards to the Bears, with Matt Forte running for 113 to become the first running back to top the 100-yard mark against New York since Week 10 of last season.

The Jets have allowed an average of 309.0 yards over the last four games while surrendering 110 points. Opposing quarterbacks have thrown nine touchdowns and one interception while compiling a 98.9 passer rating in that span.

That's a major departure from last season, when the Jets had the top-ranked defense and held opposing passers to eight scoring throws and a 58.8 rating.

New York will face a Bills team that has clinched a third consecutive last-place finish. Buffalo has scored a league-low six rushing touchdowns and is averaging 18.4 points - 27th in the NFL.

New York's offense has been impressive the last two games, gaining 393 yards against the Bears after rolling up 276 in a 22-17 win at Pittsburgh the previous week.

"I'm excited about where our offense is right now," Ryan said. "I think we've played against two outstanding defensive football teams and we've really looked good offensively, so I think we're peaking at the right time. Now, defensively, obviously, we're not. We've had two games that aren't up to our standards, but I think we can fix it.

"I've got to get this defense back. We have to get this defense back to where we're capable of playing."

While Ryan attempts to address the defensive problems, he will start quarterback Mark Sanchez but may not play him long due to a shoulder injury.

Sanchez was hurt against the Steelers, and played through it at Chicago. He's completed 65.2 percent of his passes for 439 yards with one touchdown and one interception over the last two weeks.

With Sanchez playing well, Ryan wants him to stay in his late-season rhythm heading into the playoffs. He could play anywhere from a few series to a few quarters.

"I'm glad I'm not a head coach,'' Sanchez said. ``I don't know. I always want to play. I like practicing; I like playing. That's all I think about. I love doing it and I just want to be smart with my shoulder. ... It's going to be up to Rex. It's a tough decision and I don't want to be in his shoes.''

Sanchez hasn't fared well against the Bills (4-11), completing 45.6 percent of passes for 384 yards with three touchdowns, five interceptions and a 47.7 rating in three games - two wins. His best effort was a 38-14 victory at Buffalo on Oct. 3, when he threw scoring passes to Braylon Edwards and Dustin Keller with no INTs.

All five of Sanchez's interceptions versus Buffalo came in a 16-13 overtime loss at home Oct. 18, 2009.

Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is also banged up, nursing an assortment of aches and pains. However, he's slated to play Sunday after throwing a season-high three interceptions and losing two fumbles in last week's 34-3 loss to New England.

Rookie running back C.J. Spiller also lost two fumbles.

"It shows we have to go a long way," Fitzpatrick said. "I mean, we got embarrassed out there."

Buffalo's defense is the worst in the NFL against the run, giving up an average of 162.5 yards. The Bills surrendered 217 yards on the ground against the Patriots - the seventh time this season an opponent has reached the 200-yard mark. Buffalo has gone 0-7 in those games.

The Jets have the NFL's sixth-best rushing attack, gaining 139.9 yards per game. LaDainian Tomlinson needs 86 rushing yards to reach 1,000 for the ninth time.

He ran for a season-high 133 yards and two touchdowns at Buffalo in October.

The Jets haven't finished better than 10-6 since going 12-4 in 1998.

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