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Bills vs. Jets: 3 keys to victory for Gang Green

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Head Coach Sean McDermott of the Buffalo Bills and Head Coach Todd Bowles of the New York Jets shake hands after the Buffalo Bills defeated the New York Jets 21-12 on September 10, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Head Coach Sean McDermott of the Buffalo Bills and Head Coach Todd Bowles of the New York Jets shake hands after the Buffalo Bills defeated the New York Jets 21-12 on September 10, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
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ORCHARD PARK, NY – SEPTEMBER 10: Head Coach Sean McDermott of the Buffalo Bills and Head Coach Todd Bowles of the New York Jets shake hands after the Buffalo Bills defeated the New York Jets 21-12 on September 10, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NY – SEPTEMBER 10: Head Coach Sean McDermott of the Buffalo Bills and Head Coach Todd Bowles of the New York Jets shake hands after the Buffalo Bills defeated the New York Jets 21-12 on September 10, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

The New York Jets suffered yet another crushing defeat to drop to 3-5. One more puts any postseason hopes to rest.

Week 9 has quickly sprung on the New York Jets as they’ll host their division rival Buffalo Bills on Thursday Night Football. Both teams have a huge stake in this contest, specifically Buffalo who’s in the middle of the AFC playoff race. The Bills took care of business when these two met in the season opener and at this rate, we may see history repeat itself.

Gang Green posted a third-straight fourth quarter clunker in their 25-20 loss to Atlanta. Josh McCown finished the afternoon with 257 yards and two touchdowns on an impressive 78.8 completion percentage. The defense and special teams were the units at fault. They folded like a tent when it mattered most.

Buffalo turned heads with their 34-14 blowout win over Oakland to get to 5-2. Derek Carr and the offense were on the field for a mere 24 minutes. Tyrod Taylor is continuing to play mistake-free football while Sean McDermott’s defense is bringing their lunch pail. Don’t look now, but the Bills might finally be getting over the hump.

New York is in some trouble heading into this matchup. Their secondary is banged up, they’re currently on a three-game skid and Buffalo is scorching hot. Can they manage to stay afloat in this wide open conference? Here are their three keys to victory.

Next: 3. Stack the box

3. Stack the box

The Bills haven’t flexed their muscles through the air in their first seven outings. Taylor takes phenomenal care of the ball with his 4:1 touchdown to interception ratio, though he has just 1,343 yards on the season. That averages out to just south of 192 per game. Even New York’s battered secondary doesn’t have much to worry about.

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The tall task is stopping the run. All-Pro LeSean McCoy has 512 yards and three touchdowns on 147 carries thus far. He additionally has 38 catches for 242 yards. Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison force feeds him and deploys him in a variety of ways. He gashed the Jets for 159 all-purpose yards in Week 1.

Buffalo, as usual, will try to chew the clock and keep New York’s offense on the sideline. How Todd Bowles can counter this is by keeping everyone close to the line of scrimmage. Dare Dennison to throw the ball and abandon the run game. Make Taylor be the guy who has to beat you.

Next: 2. Spread the defense

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – OCTOBER 29: Quarterback Josh McCown #15 of the New York Jets throws the ball against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of the game at MetLife Stadium on October 29, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Ed Mulholland/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – OCTOBER 29: Quarterback Josh McCown #15 of the New York Jets throws the ball against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of the game at MetLife Stadium on October 29, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Ed Mulholland/Getty Images)

2. Spread the defense

We all know how stout the Bills are defensively. McDermott and his 4-3 scheme have revived some of the personnel that failed in Rex Ryan’s 3-4. The front four is producing as well as it did under Jim Schwartz in 2014, but it’s the secondary that has turned heads most. No one thought the new faces would perform at this level in year one.

The tandem of TreDavious White and E.J. Gaines (questionable) has been one of the best in the NFL. On Pro Football Focus, White has an overall grade of 88.9, which ranks fifth out of 114 corners who have earned at least 139 snaps. Gaines sits at 34th with an 80.7. Nickel corner Leonard Johnson‘s 72.2 isn’t shabby either.

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Throwing on those three is a challenge, so spreading the defense out should be John Morton’s goal. Four and five-wide sets can create matchups with linebackers, dime corners, and safeties. Involving rookies ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen is a must given the pending Jeremy Kerley suspension. Austin Seferian-Jenkins has a chance to rebound from his 28-yard day vs. Atlanta as well.

Next: 1. Execute on special teams

CLEVELAND, OH – OCTOBER 08: Chandler Catanzaro #7 of the New York Jets watch his field goal go though the uprights in the second half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 8, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH – OCTOBER 08: Chandler Catanzaro #7 of the New York Jets watch his field goal go though the uprights in the second half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 8, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

1. Execute on special teams

Silly special teams blunders cost the Jets a win last Sunday. Chandler Catanzaro went 2/4 on kicks, missing a 46-yarder in the first quarter and another from 48 in the third. On the year, he’s 13/17 and a flawless 16/16 on extra points. Perfection on PATs is what you want to see, but four misses in eight games are too many.

The kick/punt return and coverage teams were just as poor. Kerley muffed a deep punt in the fourth to set up the Matt Bryant field goal which made it 25-20. Minutes later, New York allowed an 80-yard Andre Roberts punt return for a touchdown that was mercifully nullified because of a questionable block in the back call.

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The Jets can’t afford to make those mistakes on Thursday. Brandon Tate is a veteran return man like Roberts who just needs one or two blocks to go the distance. Taiwan Jones falls in the same boat. The weather will also have no impact, so Catanzaro has no excuse for any misses. The biggest mystery will be who replaces Kerley if he’s indeed suspended.

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