*Top 3 Individual Matchups
Jerry Hughes vs. Kelvin Beachum *Hughes will be out to put more crooked numbers in his defensive production columns after Beachum held him to three tackles and just a pair of quarterback hits in their first meeting.
*Jordan Mills vs. Leonard Williams *With Muhammad Wilkerson unlikely to play, Mills draws the toughest assignment up front in Williams. The Jets move Williams around to find favorable matchups, but New York’s leader in QB hits (11) will be lining up over Mills most often.
*Jordan Poyer vs. Austin Seferian-Jenkins *Poyer is expected to return from a knee injury after missing last week’s game against Oakland. He’ll draw the coverage assignment of the Jets tight end, who is the biggest the Bills safety has seen thus far this season. Seferian-Jenkins, who missed the first game against Buffalo, goes 6-5, 262 pounds and has already posted career highs in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns.
*Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage – Run defense *Buffalo has done a good job of making opposing offenses one dimensional. The Bills are giving up just 80 yards on the ground per game to rank third in the league in run defense. The Jets rushing attack doesn’t average much more than that at just over 95 yards per game.
*Best advantage – Run game *The Bills ground game is back to form the last two weeks as they have incorporated more of their inside zone plays from the past two seasons with the outside zone stretch plays. Defenses don’t know what’s coming and LeSean McCoy is taking advantage with 242 rushing yards the past two weeks with an average of just over 4.8 yards per carry. The Jets run defense is surrendering almost 130 yards a game.
*Bills Number 1 Must
Prevent early points *The Jets have done a good job this season of jumping out to early leads. Their 35 points scored in the first quarter this season ranks 11th. Buffalo’s offense has gotten off to slow starts this year, so the Bills defense will need to hold the Jets attack in check in the game’s early stages.
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Nicked up secondary *The Jets come into Thursday night’s game hobbling in the secondary. Both of their starting cornerbacks, Buster Skrine and Morris Claiborne are trying to return from injuries. Skrine missed the Jets last game with a concussion. He was limited in practice this week, but head coach Todd Bowles said Skrine had to pass two more tests before he could be cleared from concussion protocol.
Claiborne has been dealing with a foot injury, but has not been able to practice this week. Reserve safety Terrence Brooks is also on the mend from a hamstring injury, but has not practiced.
It leaves the Jets with Justin Burris and Darryl Roberts, their nickel corner, as potential starters on Thursday night.
*New additions *In an effort to address the shortage at cornerback due to injury, the Jets acquired CB Rashard Robinson from the San Francisco 49ers in a deadline day trade. New York gave up a fifth-round pick for the second-year player, who was a former fourth-round pick of the 49ers.
Robinson lost his starting job in San Francisco this season due in part to being flagged for 10 penalties this season with eight being assessed. His 17 penalties over the past two seasons are the second-most in the league over that span.
The Jets also signed DE Xavier Cooper, who has played for the 49ers and Browns in his career. Cooper is a good five-technique DE in a 3-4 scheme who can hold the edge in the run game and could be pressed into duty right away with Muhammad Wilkerson unlikely to play.
*McCown making plays *Say what you will about journeyman Josh McCown, but the Jets quarterback is making play. Completing over 70 percent of his passes, McCown is second only to the Saints Drew Brees in completion percentage this season. He’s the only quarterback in the league to complete over 60 percent of his passes in all eight games played.
Even though he’s been sacked 25 times, he’s thrown 12 touchdowns passes. His favorite targets have been Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse who have caught all but two of his scoring throws.
*Fourth quarter sag *As good as the Jets have been in getting points on the board early in games, closing games out has been a big issue. Though New York has either been tied or had the lead at halftime in each of their last six games, they’ve managed to win only half of them. The main issue has been the fourth quarter.
The Jets have been outscored by 56 points in the fourth quarter this season (76-20). Their 20 points scored in the fourth quarter over eight games is the fewest in the league.
*Going for broke *The Jets aren’t shy about going for the big play. Evidence of that comes in two areas. The first is how New York has been able to score quickly. They’re tied for second in the league in quick strike drives. Drives that result in points in less than four plays. The Jets have scored five touchdowns on drives lasting fewer than four plays this season.
They also rank second in points scored outside the red zone with a total of 90 in eight games. Almost half of their 17 touchdowns have been from more than 20 yards. Three of their scores have come from 65 yards plus this season.
Stat of the week *In his past two meetings with the Jets, Tyrod Taylor has 521 pass yards (260.5 per game) with five touchdown passes and two interceptions for a 102.7 passer rating.
Quote of the week *“We don’t worry about what they’re talking about or none of that. We worry about what they’re doing. We’re over here preparing properly to do whatever they try to dictate. We’re going to be the dictator of this game. If they want to run the ball we’re going to be sound on defense and play as a unit and continue doing what we have been doing. We’re going to do less talking and more playing.”
*--DT Cedric Thornton**
*Milestones in reach *Stephen Hauschka (12) needs one 50-yard field goal to have sole possession of the longest streak of 50-yard field goals made in NFL history.
Tyrod Taylor (45) needs three touchdown passes to move into sixth place on the Bills all-time touchdown passing list ahead of Doug Flutie (47).
Mike Tolbert needs one rushing touchdown to become the fifth active player with 35 touchdowns and 10 receiving touchdowns in his career.
*Final note *Micah Hyde has four interceptions in his last four games. His other interception came in the season opener against the Jets.