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Top 6 storylines to follow for Bills vs. Jets | Week 9

A.J. Epenesa (57) Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets at Highmark Stadium on January 9, 2022.

Photo by Craig Melvin
A.J. Epenesa (57) Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets at Highmark Stadium on January 9, 2022. Photo by Craig Melvin

The Bills are back on the road for a Week 9 divisional matchup against the New York Jets. Buffalo has yet to face the Jets this season, so it'll be the first of two and an important game if they want to stay atop the AFC East standings.

Here are six things to follow ahead of Sunday afternoon's game.

1. Josh Allen vs. Jets

Bills quarterback Josh Allen has faced the Jets seven times in his career and has a 5-2 record against the AFC East foe. Allen has won the last four games against the New York Jets, and the Bills have averaged 29.25 points per game in those games. We will see if he can make it five straight wins after Sunday.

In those seven games, Allen has averaged 241 passing yards and totaled 13 touchdowns. Allen's best game against the Jets came in Week 10 during last season when the Bills beat the Jets 45-17 and Allen threw for 366 yards and two touchdowns. He also averaged 13 yards per pass attempt, completed 75% of his passes and had a 125.6 passer rating.

The Jets defense won't make it easy on Allen in this one as they have surprisingly limited teams to an average of under 19.9 points per game (11th in the NFL).

Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey says the Jets defense will present a great challenge for the Bills offense.

"They've got a really good combination of talent and scheme," Dorsey explained. "They do a great job over there coaching their guys, and playing sound, fundamental, fast and physical football. So, that's a great challenge for us. They've done a really good job there kind of putting a defense together of a group of guys that play extremely hard and have some speed to them and some ability to go sideline to sideline, getting penetration, all that stuff."

2. Sauce Gardner vs. Stefon Diggs

We frequently hear players talking about "good on good" matchups in games. Well, we will have one of those in this week's game. The matchup between Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs and Jets rookie cornerback Sauce Gardner will be one worth watching. Gardner was the fourth overall pick in this year's NFL Draft, and through eight games he has shown why he's valuable.

The CB has had success with limiting WR's so far this season and ties for most passes defensed in the NFL with 12. Who knows if Gardner will follow or shadow Diggs during the game, but there's a chance they will be lined up near each other more than once. When it comes to going against the best, Diggs doesn't back down from a challenge. The WR ranks first in the NFL with seven touchdowns and second in the NFL with 764 receiving yards.

While Gardner has just one interception so far this season, the Bills will definitely be preparing their game plan with him in mind. Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey said his length is one trait that allows him to play at a high level even if it hasn't led to big interception numbers yet.

"He's really kind of settled in in terms of just his recognition, his feel, his instincts out there," Dorsey shared. "I think he's a player who's probably thinking less and reacting more just from the amount he's played up to this point. So, I think obviously he's a very talented player and they do a good job with playing to his strengths of what he does well in terms of what they ask him to do."

3. Zach Wilson under fire

Jets quarterback Zach Wilson has already helped lead his team to a four-game win streak this season, which could have been five if they beat the Patriots on Sunday. However, Wilson struggled against New England by throwing three interceptions. The QB led the Jets to just two TDs last week on 12 offensive drives. Before that game, Wilson had thrown just two interceptions, which tied for the second lowest number in the NFL.

In addition to his struggles against the Patriots, Wilson has also had a tough time connecting with his playmakers. He is completing only 54.9% of his passes, has a passer rating of 71 and has only thrown three touchdown passes, all of which rank second worst in the NFL.

One reason why the Jets saw a burst of success during their win streak was because of running back Breece Hall. In those four wins, Hall had 351 rushing yards, 468 scrimmage yards and four rushing touchdowns, which all ranked top 5. Hall unfortunately suffered a knee injury against the Broncos and will miss the rest of the season, according to Jets head coach Robert Saleh.

While Wilson's stats may not back it up, Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier believes he's athletic enough to extend plays.

"His ability to be able to make plays outside the pocket, that really stresses defenses." Frazier said. "That's a plus for him. He's got the arm talent to make all the throws. You see his ability with his mobility as well as his ability of being able to get the football down the field, and when you have a good run game along with what he can do throwing the ball, you have a chance to really have a well-rounded quarterback."

4. Two top 10 defenses

This game will feature two defenses who are playing at a pretty high level. Both rank top 10 when it comes to total defense as the Bills tie for third allowing an average of 298 total yards a game and the Jets rank sixth allowing an average of 311 total yards per game.

One reason why both teams have been able to limit teams to under 20 points a game is because of the pressure they generate from their defensive line. Buffalo blitzes at the lowest rate in the NFL but gets pressure at a top 5 rate thanks to players like Von Miller, Ed Oliver, Greg Rousseau and Jordan Phillips. The Jets tie for the most quarterback hits in the NFL with 61 thanks to guys like Quinnen Williams and Carl Lawson. Both teams have 21 sacks through eight weeks of play, which is good for 9th best in the league.

Due to that pressure from the DL, they've also been able to take the ball away at a high rate. The Bills have the most interceptions in the NFL with 11, and the Jets aren't far behind with 9. They've also done a good job at eliminating the pass – both teams are allowing an average of 203 passing yards per game.

We'll see how the Jets plan to stop quarterback Josh Allen and his weapons come Sunday. The Jets have already faced a pretty mobile quarterback in Ravens QB Lamar Jackson but they lost 24-9. In that Week 1 game, Jackson rushed for just 17 yards but threw three passing touchdowns.

5. How the CB position could evolve with Tre'Davious White being activated

The Bills officially activated CB Tre'Davious White off the PUP list Tuesday, meaning he is now eligible to play this weekend. McDermott announced Monday afternoon that the team planned activate him this week but said he would not discuss if they intend to play White on Sunday and explained they plan to keep it day-to-day with him.

As White begins to do more and more with the team in practices, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said it's important to make sure that the rookie cornerbacks still get reps.

"It's a good problem to have," Frazier said. "Tre'Davious back and to be able to have those discussions about integrating him into practice. I think we all are happy to be able to have this conversation, so we'll figure it out. We'll do what's best for Christian (Benford), along with Kaiir (Elam), what's best for them.

"But also find ways to evaluate Tre and just see where he is without setting Kaiir or Christian back. That's the goal. You want to keep those guys progressing until we know absolutely that Tre'Davious is back on the field in games."

6. Going for 5 straight wins

The Buffalo Bills are riding a four-game win streak thanks to their SNF victory over the Green Bay Packers. They're 6-1 for the first time since 1993 and seventh time in Bills history. They have a chance to make it five straight victories with a win against the Jets on Sunday.

If the Bills come out of Sunday with another win, it would be their first streak of five wins in the regular season since 2020 when the Bills finished the season with six straight wins. Their 7-1 record to start the year would also be their best in eight games since 1993. The Bills have won four straight games against the Jets and Sean McDermott has a 7-3 record against them.

Check out the best photos from Bills tailgates and the stands in Highmark Stadium during Week 8's game against Green Bay.

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