The Bills have one game left as they finish out the 2016 regular season. And the New Years' Day matchup with the Jets is filled with interesting issues, even though the outcome of the game means nothing in terms of playoff implications. Here are the top seven storylines for this week:
1. AN INTERIM SHOT FOR ANTHONY LYNN
The Bills will have Anthony Lynn on the sidelines as Head Coach this Sunday after he was named interim coach yesterday. It's the culmination of a quick rise through the coaching ranks over the last four months for Lynn. He began the season as Buffalo's Assistant Head Coach/Running Backs. On September 16th, he was promoted to offensive coordinator. And Tuesday, he became the team's interim Head Coach.
Lynn has interviewed for head coaching positions at least two times over the last two years, with the Dolphins and the Jets, and removed himself from consideration for the 49ers job last year after an interview was scheduled.
With 17 seasons of NFL coaching on his resume, he has the credentials to be the head man. This Sunday, Lynn will continue to call offensive plays, as he has done since mid-September. And he'll juggle that responsibility with overall management of the game—no small task.
Lynn spent six years as running backs coach for the Jets, so his first opponent as interim coach will be a familiar one.
2. ANOTHER SHOT FOR EJ MANUEL
The Bills are going with EJ Manuel at QB Sunday in New York, his first start since October 2015. And it's a golden opportunity for Manuel to show how much he's developed as he nears the end of his contract. Manuel could wind up on the free agent market in March and no doubt he'll be eager to put up some recent regular season tape for NFL talent evaluators.
Manuel will be making his 17th NFL start. He started the Bengals and Jaguars games in relief of Tyrod Taylor in the middle of the 2015 season. He won rave reviews from Bills coaches for his work in training camp and he played well in four preseason appearances this past August.
Manuel started the Bills final preseason game at Detroit and played four series, but he only threw five passes. There will be real regular season bullets flying in Met Life Stadium this week, and Manuel has to be eager to show how far he's come.
- LAST SHOT FOR FITZ?**
The Jets go back to Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback this week after last week's injury to Bryce Petty. And as he nears the end of his one year, 12-million dollar contract, Fitz has to be looking ahead to his re-entry to the free agent market.
At age 34, with 12 seasons of service in the NFL, Fitzpatrick's options may be dwindling. And his 17 interceptions and won-loss record of 2-8 this year will weigh against him. But Fitzpatrick is nothing if not resilient. And he'll be eager to put on a good show against his old team, and for NFL scouts, in this season finale.
4. GRUDGE MATCH FROM SEPTEMBER?
The high water mark for Fitzpatrick and the Jets came way back in week two, when they undressed the Bills in Orchard Park in front of a national TV audience on Thursday Night Football.
Fitz threw for 374 yards. Eric Decker produced 126 yards on six receptions, Brandon Marshall posted 101 and Quincy Enunwa added 92. The Bills gave up 37 points to the Jets in the early low point of Buffalo's season.
Needless to say, the Bills should be motivated to even the score with the Jets this Sunday.
5. RUSH TO THE FINALE
The Bills are in good shape to finish the season as the NFL's top rushing offense for the second consecutive year. They're number one in rushing yards, yards per play and rushing touchdowns.
The Bills have rushed for 200 yards in five games so far this season. But they only produced 86 yards on the ground against the Jets back in week two.
6. PLAY KEEP AWAY ONE MORE DAY
The Buffalo Bills have just nine turnovers through 15 games, the fewest turnovers in the NFL this year. They have just one turnover in their last three games, none in the last two.
If they don't turn the ball over against the Jets this Sunday, their nine turnovers will be a new NFL record for a single season. The 2011 49ers and the 2010 Patriots finished their seasons with a total of 10 turnovers.
7. BETTER THAN A LOSING RECORD
There will be no fireworks or parades down Delaware Avenue if the Bills beat the Jets and finish the season 8-8. But it will be the third consecutive year the team has avoided a losing record (9-7 in 2014, 8-8 last year).
The last time the Bills went three consecutive seasons without a losing record was 1998, '99, and 2000. Baby steps.