Sep 15, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) jumps to try and make a catch as Buffalo Bills cornerback Ronald Darby (28) defends during the second half at New Era Field. The Jets beat the Bills 37-31. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
For the upcoming Bills vs Jets game today, it’s a tale of two teams both headed in a downward spiral. Hopefully, Gang Green will use these top three keys to victory to end the season with pride.
The New York Jets will host their division rival Buffalo Bills to conclude the 2016-17 NFL season. Given the situations that both teams are in, you can say this outing is as close as it gets to meaningless. Gang Green sits at a pathetic 4-11 while the Bills fell to 7-8 last Sunday and fired the Ryan brothers. It’s hard to say but this Bills vs Jets matchup will be a tough one to watch considering just how bad each team is.
Could Todd Bowles be the next coach to go? His group was annihilated in Foxboro in a game that was never competitive. Bryce Petty was knocked out for the year with a torn shoulder labrum and the New England Patriots hung 41 points. Late in the fourth quarter, the Jets desperately kicked a field goal just to avoid a shutout. This is the second week in a row Bowles has opted to take the three points in garbage time. Whether it’s to send a message to his offense or help save his job, he’s the main culprit behind this mortification.
Buffalo, on the other hand, lost a 34-31 heartbreaker at home to the Miami Dolphins. They strung together a tremendous drive to take a 31-28 lead, however, Miami quickly moved downfield to set up a 55-yard Andrew Franks field goal to tie things up. Franks hit another with under two minutes left in overtime to send his team to the NFL Playoffs. Rex and company couldn’t replicate what they did to New York last year in Week 17. Allowing 494 yards of total offense won’t cut it.
Looking at this matchup on paper, the Bills are the pick. E.J. Manuel stepping in for Tyrod Taylor shouldn’t have much of an impact. The Jets’ defense is falling apart and Ryan Fitzpatrick is an absolute disaster. Buffalo has the advantage, but anything is possible in a game of this nature. Without further ado, here are top three keys to victory for New York.
Next: 3. Contain LeSean McCoy
Dec 24, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy (25) celebrates after running for a touchdown during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at New Era Field. The Dolphins beat the Bills 34-31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
3. Contain LeSean McCoy
It’s quite obvious that the Bills’ offense revolves around one player. That one player is LeSean McCoy. The All-Pro has strung together one of the best years of his career and emphatically rebounded from his unhealthy 2015 season. ‘Shady’ has 1,257 yards and 13 touchdowns on 229 carries in 14 games. On the receiving end, he has 350 yards and a touchdown on 39 catches. A full year could’ve potentially put him over 2,000 total yards.
Sammy Watkins and Charles Clay have proven to be viable options through the air, although they don’t match McCoy’s value. Buffalo hasn’t had a back of this caliber since C.J. Spiller‘s 2012 campaign in which he rushed for 1,244 yards. You also have to credit their offensive line. Cordy Glenn (inactive) and Richie Incognito lead a group that has overcome significant injuries and molded into one of the most underrated units in the league.
Gang Green has to load the box and stuff the run or it can be another long day. Carlos Hyde took them to school in Week 14, so they’re by no means a lock to hold McCoy in check. The run defense hasn’t been as dominant largely due in part to a lack of effort and depth. It’s the season finale and Manuel is under center, therefore we shouldn’t expect many passes from the Bills. Look for Buffalo to feed McCoy in an attempt to get the game over with.
Next: 2. Involve everyone on offense
Oct 30, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson (11) celebrates with wide receiver Quincy Enunwa (81) after Enunwa scored a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
2. Involve everyone on offense
As dreadful as it may seem, Fitzpatrick gives the Jets a better chance to win than Petty does. Petty still has the tools to be a successful quarterback in the NFL, but experience matters in this case. The same can be said for Christian Hackenberg, who fans are begging to see play. Fitzpatrick has been around longer and he knows Chan Gailey’s offense like the back of his hand. He should be able to complete passes and spread the ball around in this final week.
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Brandon Marshall (questionable) is nicked up and he’s been working with Petty, so it’d be unfair to target him 10+ times. Quincy Enunwa had himself a night in Orchard Park in Week 2, however, we know what he’s all about. This is the point in the season where New York should be feeling out the rest of the receiving core. Robby Anderson (questionable), Charone Peake, Jalin Marshall and Devin Smith all need to see the field on Sunday. Their fight for a roster spot begins now and they’ll play like it.
The backfield is extremely banged up with Matt Forte (inactive) and Bilal Powell (questionable), so pounding the rock wouldn’t be smart. Brandon Wilds and Brandon Burks aren’t capable of handling a heavy workload. Not to mention the weak offensive line that Barry Sanders probably couldn’t run behind. Every wideout and tight end on the roster should be getting looks. Spreading it out in the passing game is how Gang Green can end the year on a high note.
Next: 1. Force a big turnover
1. Force a big turnover
When it comes to creating turnovers, the Jets are horrendous. The only turnovers they create are on the offensive side of the ball. New York is dead last in the league in the giveaway/takeaway margin at -23. The next two teams are Jacksonville and Chicago at -16. Injuries and coaching blunders have obviously done the defense more harm than good, although a mere 11 takeaways are inexcusable. Bowles and company are better than that.
The Bills have just nine giveaways on the year, but that’s mainly because of how well Taylor takes care of the football. McCoy and Mike Gillislee also rarely cough it up. Luckily for the Jets, Manuel is now the starter and we all know how careless he can be. He has 16 starts in four seasons and he’s thrown 15 interceptions. That’s much worse than Taylor’s 12 interceptions in 29 starts.
New York has to make something happen. Darrelle Revis isn’t himself and neither is Buster Skrine, but the secondary can be opportunistic against a guy like Manuel. Look for Marcus Williams, Juston Burris and Darryl Roberts to continue getting snaps on the outside. Bowles showed no faith in Revis last week using Burris on the goal line against Julian Edelman. The Jets would be hard-pressed not to do the same on Sunday since he’s sadly their best corner right now.