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The New York Jets had a bye week that came at the worst time. They had gained some momentum and were riding a two-game winning streak going into the bye. And given their recent history under coach Rex Ryan coming off of byes (they’re 0-2), they’re hoping to change things and are confident that they won’t have a drop off due to time off.
Ryan was at a loss when asked about the trend of his team coming out flat after time off, but said this year that can’t happen. “We have to do something about that trend,” he said. “We need to win this week.” Every game has become a must win for the Jets, especially since the Jets are one game behind the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots for first place, and they face these two teams in the next two games.
Even CB Darrelle Revis called the game against the Bills this Sunday a must win. “You can’t focus on the past coming off byes and losing,” Revis said. “It’s a new year and we’re in control of our destiny and where we want to go.” The Jets do in fact control their own destiny even after a three game skid as if they can take both of the next two games they could potentially be sitting atop the AFC East.
Lose both games, and the Jets’ season could be close to being over. The Jets have owned the Bills in the past few years, winning five of the last six meetings between the two, and that includes three wins in Buffalo. Ryan believes the practices have been good, and the Jets look very alert and aware of the situation which he hopes will translate into a good showing out of the bye.
But the Jets have lost all three of their away games this season and hope to end the streak at three with a win on Sunday. “Would we like to have had a better record? Absolutely, we would’ve, but we don’t,” Ryan said. “We’re 4-3, but we have it right in front of us. The teams you have to beat are right in front of us, so we’ll know. These next few weeks are going to be critical for us.”
Buffalo on the other side sits at 5-2 atop the AFC East and is coming off their best performance of the year dominating Washington 23-0 up in Toronto. They only gave up 178 yards had two picks to add to their league lead 14, and recorded 9 sacks. This was way better than their five previous games in which they gave up 414+ yards in each game.
“You hope that your team gains confidence from that, and that your defense sees how well they can play,” coach Chan Gailey said. “It should create more confidence.” The Bills are 26th in the league giving up 385.9 yards per contest, but the Jets’ offense isn’t much better ranked 29th and averaging 300.1 yards per game.
The problem for Buffalo is that the Jets have recently been playing better, including their season high 162 yards on the ground in their last game against San Diego in which Shonn Greene had 112 yards. This isn’t good for a Buffalo defense that struggles stopping the run. The Jets average 279.0 yards on the ground in the past four meetings with Buffalo.
Buffalo does benefit from having Fred Jackson on their side and they are ranked fifthin rushing averaging 140.6 yards per game. Jackson is ranked second in the NFL averaging 103.0 yards and is sixth rushing touchdowns. His 353 yards receiving out of the backfield is good for fourth among running backs. This matchup looks good compared to the Jets who are 25th against the rush giving up 126.9 yards per game.
They will have to rely on their backfield because Ryan Fitzpatrick has a 62.0 rating in four games against the Jets and, with CBs Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, look for TE Scott Chandler to have a big game as the Bills will try to take advantage of the safeties down the seams the one weakness of the seventh ranked pass defense.
The Bills defense is 20th against the rush and 24th against the pass. The Jets’ offense, which saw a boost against the Chargers as WR Plaxico Burress and RB Shonn Greene had breakout games, is looking to keep the momentum going. Mark Sanchez needs to out-manage Ryan Fitzpatrick if the Jets want to win this game.
This will be a good game that will come down to a key play or drive. Each team is riding momentum and playing well as of late and I believe that the Jets with a few more playmakers on their team will be able to pull the game out late. Final Prediction: Jets 27 Bills 21.
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