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Top 6 storylines to follow for Bills vs. Jets | Week 18

Devin Singletary (26). Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets at MetLife Stadium, November 14, 2021. Photo by Bill Wippert

One final game in the regular season and one final opportunity to claim the division. It's all going down at Highmark Stadium in Week 18.

Here are six storylines to follow ahead of Sunday's regular season finale.

1. Division title on the line

The Bills want to end the season with some momentum, which means one last win before going to the playoffs. But, more importantly, a victory would also mean the AFC East belongs to Buffalo. It would be first consecutive division title for the Bills since they won four in a row from 1988 to 1991.

Bills head coach Sean McDermott has three consecutive 10-win seasons, has made it to the postseason in four out of his five years in Buffalo and has the opportunity to do something that hasn't been done in over 30 years.

Here are the logistics of how it needs to play out for Buffalo to clinch the East.

1. BUF win OR

2. NE loss OR

3. BUF tie + NE tie

The Buffalo Bills, on paper, matchup nicely with the New York Jets but that doesn't mean the Jets won't come to fight. Buffalo is currently averaging 28.5 points (3rd) and 379.3 total yards (5th) per game. The Jets are allowing 29.8 points (32nd) and 396 total yards (32nd) per game.

Buffalo's on a three-game win streak and they can end the season with four straight wins heading into the playoffs. Bills head coach Sean McDermott hopes his team can build off their recent success and play their best football in January.

"I think that's the way you want it, it doesn't always go like that, but the teams that I've been around that have been the good ones, they play their best this time of year," McDermott said. "It's certainly necessary to have that. And again, I've been happy with that. I think we've got more room to grow there as well. I just think we got to continue to embrace the growth mindset and stay humble yet confident in our approach."

2. Going for second straight sweep of the Jets

The Bills have been perfect against the Jets in the last three meetings and have the chance to sweep the Jets for the second consecutive season on Sunday. In their first meeting of the season, Buffalo beat the Jets 45-17 in Week 10.

Bills quarterback Josh Allen threw for two touchdowns and four different players had a rushing touchdown. Buffalo's defense forced five turnovers, four of which were interceptions thrown by Jets quarterback Mike White. The Bills didn't get to play against rookie quarterback Zach Wilson in that game because he was out with a knee injury.

Buffalo will get to play against Wilson for the first time ever on Sunday. The rookie QB is averaging 187 passing yards per game and has totaled 12 touchdowns in 12 appearances. Wilson is completing 56.7% of his passes and has thrown 11 interceptions.

We will see if the Bills can make it four-game win streak against the Jets on Sunday. In four seasons, Bills quarterback Josh Allen is 4-2 versus the Jets.

3. Watch out for the feisty Jets

Yes, the Jets are 4-12. Yes, they are averaging under 20 points a game and giving up close to 30 points a game. But...they've looked different the last few weeks.

Their last three games have been determined by seven points or less. In Week 15, they lost to the Dolphins 31-24. The next week they beat the Jaguars 26-21. Last week, they were close to beating the Buccaneers but lost 28-24.

The Jets put it all on the line in Week 17 against the defending Super Bowl Champions. They had the lead for most of the game until the Buccaneers scored the go-ahead touchdown with 15 seconds left in the game.

The Jets did that? You bet.

They were 3 of 4 in the red zone that day and Wilson had one of his best games as a pro.

In their win against the Jaguars, offensive lineman Conor McDermott, a former Bill, caught a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. It could be their rookies starting to step up, a new sense of pride from being in some close games recently or the creativity in some play-calling but don't dismiss the Jets.

The Bills need to do a good job of getting in an early rhythm and setting the tone from the jump.

4. Devin Singletary's hot stretch

The Bills run game is alive and well and it showed up in Week 17's win against the Atlanta Falcons. Buffalo totaled a season-high 233 rushing yards and the running backs averaged over five yards per carry.

Bills running back Devin Singletary had a career game by totaling 23 carries, 110 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. Singletary has had some important and impressive runs over the last few weeks but he took over in Week 17 when the passing offense wasn't producing points. The coaching staff and players have said multiple times they want to be able to win in multiple ways and they showed that was possible by letting the run game take over after Josh Allen threw a few interceptions.

Singletary has a career-high 782 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns this season. As the regular season winds down and the playoffs begin, Buffalo will look to Singletary for consistency when his number is called.

"Since he's been here, all he's done is improve," Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll said. "He's a really good kid that has worked really hard. He busts his tail in the offseason. Doesn't say a whole lot. And you know, he's certainly been very dependable for us in a lot of areas playing the running back position."

The running back could see continued success this weekend because the Jets are allowing 136.3 rushing yards per game, which is the fourth most in the NFL.

5. Why Ed Oliver and Harrison Phillips have been breakout players

Bills defensive tackles Ed Oliver and Harrison Phillips have put together a productive couple of games. The two have accounted for three sacks and five quarterback hits over the last two weeks. Their value at that position and their growth this season go beyond what the stat sheets say.

Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier needed Oliver to step up this season and he has. He leads the team with 11 quarterback hits.

"We needed that breakout season," Frazier said of Oliver. "And you hope for that from players, but you don't always get it. But he's worked so hard to put himself in a position to succeed, and now to see some of that success and obviously we're the beneficiaries as a defense. He's been so disruptive for offensive linemen trying to block him."

For Phillips, it was about finally feeling like his old self after tearing his ACL two seasons ago. He's now playing like a defensive tackle that can affect the quarterback and plug the gaps in the run game. And the coaching staff is taking note because Phillips earned the game ball after finishing with three quarterback hits and fumble recovery against the Falcons.

Frazier said he's liked the chemistry out of the group and they'll need it going forward.

"They've really got to do a great job of all being where they need to be gap-responsibility wise, so that continuity and that really, working off of each other, it's important on the defensive line, that chemistry," Frazier explained.

That chemistry helped the defensive line grab four sacks in last week's game. This week they'll face a rookie quarterback in Zach Wilson who's been sacked 36 times, which is the 6th most in the league.

6. Milestones within reach

With the end of another regular season comes the opportunity to set some new records and establish more milestones. Plenty of records have been broken since Bills head coach Sean McDermott took over and there will be several more under his watch, including many this year.

Here are some records and milestones to watch for this week.

  • Need 46 points (currently at 456) to have the most points in a season.

Old record: 501 in 2020

  • Need 7 touchdowns (currently at 54) to have most touchdowns in a season.

Old record: 60 in 2020

  • Need 25 first downs (currently have 373) to have most first downs in a season.

Old record: 397 in 2020

  • Need 274 total yards (currently at 6,069) to have most total yards gained in a season.

Old record: 6,343 in 2020

  • Need 21 pass completions (currently at 390) to have most pass completions in a season.

Old record: 410 in 2020

  • Tyler Bass needs 16 points (currently at 126) to have most total points in a season.

Old record: 141 by Tyler Bass in 2020

  • Josh Allen needs 12 pass completions (currently at 385) to have most pass completions in a season.

Old record: 396 in 2020

  • Josh Allen needs 377 passing yards (currently at 4,168) to have most passing yards in a season.

Old record: 4,544 in 2020

  • Josh Allen needs 4 touchdown passes (currently at 34) to have most touchdown passes in a season.

Old record: 37 in 2020

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