With the Jets fighting for position in the wild card race, Rex Ryan and his Bills would love nothing more than to spoil the party for his former team. Bills players have described Sunday’s game as “our Super Bowl”, and have been dangerous at times this season. But can they stop the high-flying Jets? The Jets are on the brink of returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2011, when Rex Ryan guided them to the AFC championship game. Coming off a huge victory against New England, the Jets must now beat their former coach to earn their playoff spot. Buffalo’s season fell apart as quickly as it gained momentum. Injuries and schematic struggles on defense have derailed a potential playoff team, with mutiny seemingly boiling under the surface and some big names rumoured to be on the way out. Can the Bills pull off one last upset?
Three Keys to the Game
Stopping the Jets’ offense
Ryan Fitzpatrick has had an uncharacteristically good December, thanks to the receiving tandem of Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Marshall became the first Jets receiver ever to have over 100 receptions in a season, and could break the franchise’s single-season yards record as well. Chris Ivory is running well, if not with the game-breaking talent that he had early on. With a talented Bills defense struggling under Ryan, the Bills face a tough test to ground Fitzmagic and the Jets.
Buffalo’s running game
The Bills’ offense is built on the run game, and Buffalo lead the league with 154.6 yards per game. But most of that is down to LeSean McCoy, who did not practise this week with an injury. Buffalo could struggle against New York’s strong front seven. The Jets are the league’s best run defense, allowing just 81.5 yards per game. Even strong performances from Karlos Williams and Mike Gillislee may not be enough for the Bills to break through.
Both teams are fired up for this game. The Jets are desperate to get back into the playoffs and are coming off a huge win against New England. The Bills have played with fire this season, and would delight in ruining the Jets’ playoff chances. But that fire has often cost Buffalo this season, and they are one of the most penalised teams in the league. In an emotional game for Rex, his players might struggle to control themselves, while some have checked out altogether after a disappointing season.
Match-up to watch
Darelle Revis vs Sammy Watkins
In their last encounter, Revis held Sammy Watkins to just three catches for 14 yards and no touchdowns. Since then, Watkins has shown flashes of being one of the league’s top receivers, with three 100 yard games. However, after struggling with injury earlier in the season, Revis looked like his old self against the Patriots, and should be able to handle Watkins while the rest of the Jets focus on Tyrod Taylor and the run game.
New York Jets
Serious coaching and effort problems in Buffalo mean that they have caught the high-flying Jets at the wrong time. With New York’s defense playing much better in recent weeks, they should be able to handle Buffalo’s rushing attack and earn a playoff spot while Rex Ryan watches from the sidelines.