With a blooming roster in Florham Park and quarterback controversy in Foxborough, this could’ve been the year the NY Jets finally swept head coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots.
But as the more things change, the more they stay the same.
The Jets lost to the Pats for a 13th straight time last Sunday, no thanks to three Zach Wilson interceptions and a John Franklin-Myers roughing the passer penalty that wiped out a Michael Carter II pick-six.
Now as head coach Robert Saleh’s team regroups, an even tougher opponent is on deck. Superstar quarterback Josh Allen and the 6-1 Bills come to town Sunday. Buffalo is riding a four-game win streak, sits atop the AFC East, and has defeated the Jets four straight times. Thus, the chance of the Jets dropping a second straight game is significant.
As is the chance of Wilson struggling again.
Despite his 4-1 record as a starter this season, the second-year quarterback has been below-average. He enters Week 9 with a 54.9% completion rate, tied for worst in the league (minimum 68 pass attempts), per NFL Next Gen Stats. Wilson’s 71.0 passer rating is currently second-worst in the NFL (minimum 68 pass attempts), also per NFL Next Gen Stats.
Another horrid performance could put Wilson on the hot seat. So it’s not ideal he has to face a Buffalo pass defense allowing only 203.1 yards per game (ninth in the NFL).
Will we hear “Mike White” chants at MetLife Stadium this Sunday?
Jets vs Bills
When: Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022
Where: MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Radio: ESPN Radio New York 98.7 FM
Keys to victory
Unleash the rush. General manager Joe Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh built this defensive line for this stage. If Josh Allen has time in the pocket, the MVP candidate will torch the Jets for upwards of 350 yards. Defensive linemen Carl Lawson, John Franklin-Myers, and Quinnen Williams can’t allow that to happen.
Superb DB play. The Jets also built the secondary for this type of moment. Cornerbacks D.J. Reed, Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, and Michael Carter II need huge games against receivers Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis.
Strong O-line play. This Buffalo defense is third in total defense and first in scoring. But the pass rush is only recording a 40% pass rush win rate (20th in the NFL, per ESPN). The Jets’ offensive line, while looking very different than it did entering the preseason, needs to have its way with the Bills’ front seven. Zach Wilson is going to have another disastrous performance if he doesn’t have time to operate.
Wilson now has more responsibility on his hands. Running back Breece Hall (ACL) and offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker (triceps) are out for the year, while wide receiver Corey Davis (knee) is about to miss his second straight week.
And in his first game without those three last Sunday, Wilson looked very much like his mistake-prone rookie self. He completed only 48.8% of his throws with a 64.6 passer rating and the three picks.
When you consider Wilson’s 54.9% completion rate, 71.0 rating, three touchdowns, and five interceptions for the season, his 4-1 record loses its legitimacy. But he has an enormous chance to right the wrongs, change the narrative, and heavily contribute to a huge division win this Sunday.
Did you know?
The Jets haven’t defeated the Bills at home in five years.
It was Nov. 2, 2017 — the Jets beat Buffalo 34-21 at MetLife Stadium. The victory came on the shoulders of quarterback Josh McCown and running back Matt Forte. While McCown threw for one touchdown and ran for another, Forte rushed for 77 yards and a pair of scores on the ground.
The Bills actually made the playoffs that year for the first time since the 1999 campaign. They’ve made the postseason every year since, with the exception of Josh Allen’s 2018 rookie season.
I can’t pick the Jets in this one. The Bills sport a Super Bowl roster, an elite quarterback, a great defense, and are well-coached. And the Jets have a mistake-prone quarterback and injuries across the board.
The Bills are the better team in essentially all facets of the game, and while the Jets are more talented than in recent years, they’re not at Buffalo’s level just yet. Bills 34, Jets 17.