The Buffalo Bills will attempt to stay in the playoff discussion when they take on the New York Jets tonight in their adopted “home” of Ford Field in Detroit. This game was originally scheduled to be played Sunday afternoon at Ralph Wilson Stadium, but a massive snowstorm that dumped around eight feet in just a few days prompted not only the re-scheduling of this game, but the relocation to the Motor City.
The Bills (5-5) are aiming for a season sweep of the Jets (2-8) and a third straight win overall against their AFC East rivals. Buffalo trounced New York 43-23 at MetLife Stadium back in Week 8, thanks to four touchdown passes from Kyle Orton and six turnovers committed by Jets quarterbacks. That game also was the last time Geno Smith has been under center. He was replaced by Michael Vick after completing just two passes and throwing three interceptions in the first quarter in front of a thoroughly dissatisfied home crowd.
New York Jets vs. Buffalo Bills
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
TV Channel: CBS (locally), NFL Sunday Ticket (DirecTV)
Spread: Buffalo -2
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New York’s Key to Victory: Stay Grounded
The Jets have 18 giveaways on the season. A third of those (six) came in their Week 8 43-23 loss to the Bills. All six were committed by New York quarterbacks and while Geno Smith grabbed most of the headlines due to his nightmarish first quarter (2 completions, 3 INTs), it should be pointed out that Michael Vick threw a pick and lost two fumbles (out of four total). In fact, Smith and Vick have combined for 15 of the team’s 18 turnovers this season. Even though Smith (10 INTs, 2 fumbles) has been responsible for the vast majority of these, the argument can be made that the Jets are better off when the ball isn’t in their quarterbacks’ hands. New York is fourth in the NFL in rushing at 140.9 yards per game and dead last in passing (178.5 ypg). Buffalo’s defense has done a pretty good job against the run (99.0 ypg, 9th), but gave up a season-worst 175 yards (on 33 carries) and three touchdowns to the Jets back in Week 8. Even though the Bills won the first game by 20, they were outgained (280 to 312), especially on the ground (67 to 175), by the Jets. In fact, the final margin of victory was the exact number of points Buffalo scored on all of those New York miscues. If the Jets stay committed to the running game tonight, it could prove fruitful against a Bills defense that’s had to deal with a lot of extenuating circumstances in its preparations for this game. Besides, we’ve already seen what happens when this offense funnels primarily through the quarterback.
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Buffalo’s Key to Victory: Maintain Edge in Turnover Margin
Statistically, the Bills’ offense has been just a hair more productive than the Jets’. Buffalo is 25th in the NFL in total offense (321.6 ypg), a little more than two yards ahead of New York. The defenses are also equally close in yards allowed, but the Bills have a near-touchdown advantage in terms of scoring defense (20.4 ppg compared to 26.5). The difference has been with turnovers. Buffalo is tied for seventh in the league with a plus-seven differential while New York is tied for 29th at minus-11. The Bills are near the top of the league in takeaways with 21 (12 INTs, 9 fumbles) while the Jets are last with just seven (3 INTs, 4 fumbles). To put it simply, Buffalo is plus-nine in its six wins and minus-two in its wins. New York is plus-two in its wins and minus-13 in its losses. One of the reasons the Bills are sitting at .500 and the Jets have won just two games is the vast discrepancy when it comes to ball security. This part of the game was huge in the first meeting and Buffalo would be well served to capitalize on its apparent advantage in this area tonight as well. The Bills may not be playing a true home game, but that doesn’t mean they can’t stick to the formula that has worked so well for them this season.
It has been anything but business as usual for Buffalo this past week. Not only did the snowstorm disrupt the Bills’ schedule, it forced the relocation of this game to Detroit. New York had to change up its routine too, but from a readiness standpoint, the Jets have a distinct advantage. However, there are plenty of reasons why one team is at .500 and one team is 2-8, and it starts at the quarterback position. Both teams have gone through quarterback changes, but Buffalo’s switch has been more successful than New York’s. Kyle Orton’s best game this season came back in Week 8 when the Bills trounced the Jets. I’m not expecting a repeat, but I do think Buffalo will take care of business at “home” tonight.