This Sunday, the Buffalo Bills travel to New Jersey to take on the “New York” Jets in an AFC East showdown. The Bills will come into MetLife Stadium with a 4-3 record, while the Jets are sitting in last place at 1-6. While the Jets haven’t been able to put together wins, this is a divisional game that could be tough for the Bills.
Here at BillsMafia, we’ve got you covered on which matchups to keep an eye on, keys to the game and a sleeper to check out.
Bills OL vs. Jets DL
The Bills’ offensive line has been struggling all season, and it appears that they’ll go into the game with their third combination, as Kraig Urbik saw first-team reps in practice over the struggling rookie left guard Cyril Richardson.
Buffalo’s offensive line has surrendered 14 sacks on the year, but has allowed another 28 QB hits and 55 QB hurries. This week, they’ll face off against Rex Ryan’s pressure defense that features three dominant defensive tackles in Sheldon Richardson, Muhammed Wilkerson and nose tackle Damon Harrison.
The Jets’ defense has gotten to opposing quarterbacks 20 times this year, good for fifth in the league, with Richardson and Wilkerson combining for seven sacks and 41 pressures. The battle in the trenches will be a big part of the game, as the Bills not only need to be able to establish the run against a unit that ranks No. 2 in the league in that department, but to keep a clean pocket for Kyle Orton to spread the ball around.
Bills WR Sammy Watkins vs Jets CB Darrin Walls
Just seven games into his professional career, Sammy Watkins has proven that he’s a true No. 1 wideout, creating ridiculous separation with excellent, fluid route running ability and incredible speed. Watkins has already been targeted 61 times, catching 34 for 433 yards and four touchdowns.
This week, he’ll face off with Darrin Walls, a mediocre cornerback who’s allowed a 66.2% catch rate for 346 yards and 3 TDs. Watkins should be in for another big day, as long as the offensive line provides Kyle Orton with sufficient time in the pocket.
Bills S Duke Williams vs Jets TE Jace Amaro
Second-year safety Duke Williams has seen a recent uptick in snaps with Aaron Williams missing some time with a neck injury, and has seen most of his coverage snaps against tight ends. Williams has been inconsistent, taking poor angles and getting out-muscled by the larger tight ends he’s matched up with.
This week, Duke should see a fair dose of the Jets’ rookie second-round pick Jace Amaro, a 6’5” 250 pound tight end out of Texas Tech. Amaro has been one of Geno Smith’s favorite targets, catching 27-of-34 passes in his direction for 234 yards and a touchdown. The Bills’ defense has done a good job of controlling the middle of the field in short-intermediate situations, but Amaro will definitely be a player they need to be aware of.
When the Bills have the ball
While the Bills do need to stay true to the run, they’d be wise to take advantage of New York’s depleted secondary that will be starting Darrin Walls, Kyle Wilson, Philip Adams, Dawan Landry and rookie Calvin Pryor.
The Bills have enough talent at wide receiver and a competent veteran quarterback in Kyle Orton that should be able to sense pressure from Rex Ryan’s exotic blitz packages to exploit the weak back end of the Jets’ defense.
The Bills will need strong pass protection, which is easier said than done, as we’ve seen throughout the season, but the Jets lack a true difference maker behind the defensive linemen.
When the Jets have the ball
The Jets will look to run the ball early and often with Chris Ivory, who’s led the offense to the No. 2 unit in the league. Ivory’s averaged 4.9 yards-per-carry for 432 yards and three touchdowns this year, and is a physical, downhill runner that the Bills will need to contain.
Ivory isn’t a running back that will pick up huge chunks of yardage, or hit a home run, but he’s powerful enough to pick up four or five yards a pop and keep the chains moving. Shutting down the run should be a priority, in order to force a struggling Geno Smith into long passing situations.
Sleeper to watch
Jets LB Demario Davis
David Harris is the veteran “Mike” linebacker in the Jets’ defense, but Demario Davis is a versatile and athletic inside ‘backer that is extremely effective against the run. Davis has racked up 54 tackles and two sacks this season, but can be exploited when dropping into coverage. Davis should make a few plays for the Jets this Sunday.