The Buffalo Bills suffered a tough loss to the Jaguars last week, but there's no time like the present to bounce back and get on the winning track. Buffalo has the opportunity to do so in Week 10 as the team gets set to face a division opponent in the New York Jets. Buffalo has won its past two games against the Jets and the past three games against the Jets in MetLife Stadium.
Here are five storylines to follow ahead of the matchup.
1. Turning a loss into a learning opportunity
The Bills will try to do what every team does after a loss — learn from the tape, correct their mistakes and earn a win the following week. Just like many players said after the AFC Championship loss, a bad game can turn into something positive if you take the time to work at it.
While the loss to the Jaguars didn't knock them out of the playoffs, the team can still take a similar approach and turn this opportunity into growth. Bills head coach Sean McDermott thinks the team needs to have honest conversations about their mistakes.
"I believe that you make the adjustments that need to be made, you have the conversations that need to be had and you don't ignore some of those rocks that are in our shoe right now," McDermott said. "And so you figure out what those things are, you address them directly and you make adjustments for the betterment of the team."
Since 2019, the Bills have lost two games in a row only twice.
2. Who will be the Jets QB in Week 10?
One thing no one is sure about just yet is who will start at quarterback for the Jets on Sunday afternoon. Rookie quarterback Zach Wilson suffered a knee injury in Week 7 and has not played since. Jets head coach Robert Saleh said they will know who will start on Wednesday.
Quarterback Mike White took over for Wilson in Week 7 and started in Week 8. White helped the Jets beat the Bengals 34-31 and completed 37 of 45 passes (82%) for 405 passing yards. He threw for three touchdowns, two interceptions and posted a 107.9 passer rating.
White started again in Week 9 against the Colts but was sidelined with a hand injury. Veteran quarterback Josh Johnson came in and threw for an impressive 317 yards and three touchdowns. Unfortunately, for the Jets, it wasn't enough, and they lost to the Colts 45-30.
Wilson has started in six games this season and White has started in two. Saleh said they will be conservative if Wilson is not fully healthy this week.
"We're not in any hurry to rush him back because of the fact that this is a two-to-four-week injury," Saleh said about Wilson. "He's working on it. He's going into week three and there's a couple of hurdles he has to pass."
3. How healthy will the Bills be come Sunday?
While the Jets are dealing with quarterback health problems, the Bills have some health issues of their own on the offensive line. Guard Jon Feliciano (calf) was placed on the IR last week and tackle Spencer Brown has missed the last two games due to a back injury. The Bills have averaged only 16 points over the last two weeks but Sean McDermott isn't blaming just one position group.
"It's hard to do anything without line play, right?" McDermott said. "And everything goes through the line on both sides of the ball, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. So, I would just say it's never just one position, as you're saying, `Hey, what was the issue?' It's more than that. It's more than one position and one player.
"We have to do a better job overall offensively, of putting our players in position, and the players have to execute."
On Monday, McDermott announced that he is hopeful they will have Brown back at practice on Wednesday as well as tight end Dawson Knox. If Brown can play, that will help the offensive line take another step to getting close to full strength.
McDermott also announced that cornerback Taron Johnson and running back Zack Moss are in concussion protocol.
4. Taking control of the top of the AFC East
As we inch closer to the playoffs, we are starting to get a better sense of who could win the AFC East. But are we? There were some head scratching results in Week 9, including Buffalo's loss.
Let's dig into the AFC East and how it looks heading into Week 10.
The Bills (5-3) and Jets (2-6) lost in Week 9, while the Dolphins (2-7) and Patriots (5-4) won. Miami beat Houston 17-9 and New England beat Carolina 24-6. There are still nine weeks left in the regular season, which means anything can happen.
If the playoffs were to start today, Buffalo would win the AFC East. But that's not the case and the Patriots aren't too far behind. Right now, New England is second with the same number of wins as the Bills, the Jets are third and the Dolphins are last.
Buffalo swept Miami, but has yet to face the Jets or the Patriots. They'll see the Jets on Sunday and in Week 18, and they'll play New England in Week 13 and Week 16. Last year the Bills swept the division for the first time in team history.
On NFL Network's Good Morning Football on Tuesday morning, the breakfast table was debating if they thought the Bills or the Patriots would win the AFC East this year. Former Bills running back LeSean McCoy is a guest host this week and said he still thinks it's Bufffalo's division.
"One bad game doesn't make the Bills a bad team," McCoy said. "Josh Allen, he's still there. Stefon Diggs, he's still there. Tre'Davious White, he's still there. It's changed, we're the big guys now. Tom's (Brady) gone, so we're the big guys in the AFC East."
5. Bills defense facing another inexperienced QB
Buffalo's defense has made it tough for young quarterbacks this season. They've faced two rookie quarterbacks and held them both to a total of nine points. Rookie quarterbacks have also completed less than 58% of their passes against the Bills this season and have thrown four interceptions and no passing touchdowns.
The Bills could face another rookie quarterback in Zach Wilson if he's healthy. If Wilson isn't ready, which head coach Robert Saleh said they would know by Wednesday, then they'll most likely turn to quarterback Mike White. White has played in three games, including a win against the Cincinnati Bengals. White has three years of experience and was drafted in the fifth round of the 2018 Draft.
Buffalo has also been dominant against quarterbacks with three years of experience or less this season. Those quarterbacks that fall into that category are Davis Mills (Houston), Tua Tagovailoa (Miami) and Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville). The defense has held those quarterbacks to an average of 6.7 points per game, a 54.7% completion percentage, a 43.3 passer rating and zero passing touchdowns compared to five interceptions.
Even though defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier's squad has had their way with young quarterbacks this year, Frazier said it's not easy preparing for a team who has played three different quarterbacks (Zach Wilson, Mike White, Josh Johnson) over the last three weeks.
"For me, it'll be a matter of going back and looking at all three quarterbacks who have played the last few weeks," Frazier explained. "Then it's a little bit of a guessing game as the week goes on. We'll see. We'll try to get a feel. It's tough for our players as well, but we'll just try to get a feel for all three as best we can."