Top 3 Individual Matchups
1 – Marcell Dareus vs. Nick Mangold/Wesley JohnsonThe Bills Pro Bowl defensive tackle has an opportunity to dominate the play at the line of scrimmage knowing that Jets C Nick Mangold won't be 100 percent if he plays. If his backup Wesley Johnson has to start Thursday night, look out.
2 – John Miller vs. Muhammad WilkersonBuffalo's rookie right guard has held his own most weeks. Fortunately he got some good prep work facing Ndamukong Suh last week because the task gets no easier with Wilkerson leading the Jets with five sacks, 13 QB hits and four tackles for loss.
3 – Sammy Watkins vs. Darrelle RevisWatkins is still not 100 percent and there are some experts who think Revis isn't quite as dominant as he used to be now at 29-years old. Still, this is a matchup worth the price of admission. Watkins is an excellent study of opposing corners as evidenced by the way he set up Brent Grimes last week. Can he outsmart one of the best?
Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage – Big play potentialBuffalo has some explosive weapons back in their offensive lineup. Knowing the Jets defense has been susceptible to big plays, keeping tabs on the likes of LeSean McCoy, Karlos Williams, Sammy Watkins and Charles Clay could be an issue.
Best advantage – Run defenseThe Jets may have the league's best run defense, but they'll be up against Buffalo's number two rushing attack. That matchup is a wash. The Bills sixth-ranked run defense should have the edge over a Jets run game that's struggling big time of late.
Bills Number 1 Must
Win line of scrimmage on defenseThe Jets offensive line is beat up with Nick Mangold and Willie Colon nicked up. Buffalo has to take advantage of the matchups on their defensive line and reset the line of scrimmage in New York's offensive backfield to neutralize the Jets run game and force hurried throws from Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Thumbs downRyan Fitzpatrick has put together a solid season thus far with a nearly 2:1 touchdown to interception ratio, while completing 62 percent of his passes and a middle of the pack 89.3 passer rating. His current problem is the torn ligament in his non-throwing hand that will require surgery. There are reports Fitzpatrick will have the surgery right after the game with the Bills, but the injury did not affect him last week when he went 21-34 passing for 272 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Rolling in the red zoneNew York's offense has looked almost automatic when they penetrate the opponent's 20-yard line. The Jets have been the most efficient offense in the league when it's come to scoring in the red zone. They are registering touchdowns at a 75 percent clip scoring on 21 of their 28 red zone possessions.
Conversely, their defense has been almost as successful in keeping opponents out of the end zone. The Jets defense ranks second in the league in opponent red zone touchdown percentage. They've allowed opposing offenses to manage just a 40 percent touchdown success rate from inside their 20-yard line.
Running in mudThe Jets have a run game that ranks 14th in the league and averages 115 yards a game, but in their last three games they've been largely unproductive. New York's rushing totals have dropped like a stone the last three games with totals of 89, 74 and 29 yards. Over that span the Jets are averaging less than 2.5 yards per carry (2.46). It should be noted that the three defensive units they faced all ranked in the top 10 against the run (N.E. – 3rd, Oak. – 8th, Jax. – 7th), but so does Buffalo at sixth in the NFL.
Over their headsNew York's defense has been susceptible to the big play of late. Evidence of that comes in the total yardage they've surrendered the last three games. The Jets have given up 1,240 yards in the last three games with more than 1,000 coming via the pass (1,069). Todd Bowles' defense ranks 26th in allowing plays of 20 yards or more. There have been a total of 33 this season against the Jets, with 10 alone coming last week against the Jaguars. CB Antonio Cromartie has been one of the more victimized Jets defenders, but he's questionable to play with a deep thigh bruise.
Big targetsA big difference in the Jets passing game this season has been the size their receiving targets offer. Brandon Marshall (6-5), Eric Decker (6-3) and TE Jeff Cumberland (6-4) are all size mismatches in the Jets passing attack. Marshall and Decker have combined for 90 catches over 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns in the first half of the season. Decker has a receiving touchdown in seven of his last eight games, while Marshall has had either 100 yards receiving or a touchdown catch in seven of his last eight games.
Taking itIf there's one thing the Jets defense has been proficient at it's taking the ball away. New York ranks second in the league in turnover differential with a plus-seven margin. Their 19 takeaways represent the third-highest total in the NFL so far this season. Darrelle Revis leads the team with six of those takeaways (3 INT, 3 FR).
Quote of the week"It's a very important game for us. We understand what's at stake and that's why we're taking this week as we are. Making sure we really understand the game plan fully. Making sure guys are able to come out there and communicate because we know on Thursday night is going to be a very hostile environment."
--DE Jerry Hughes
Stat of the weekThe Bills and Jets have a combined nine victories this season, but not one has come against an opponent with a winning record.
Milestones in reach
Charles Clay needs four receptions for 200 in his career.
Ronald Darby (15) needs two pass breakups to set a franchise high for single-season pass breakups by a rookie (Stephon Gilmore 16, 2012).* *Tyrod Taylor with 40 or more yards rushing will become the second quarterback in team history with five or more games of 40-plus yards rushing in a season (Doug Flutie, 1999).
Final noteIn four career Thursday games, LeSean McCoy averages 145 scrimmage yards per game and has six total touchdowns. If McCoy scores against the Jets it would be his fifth straight game on Thursday with a touchdown.