© Jamie Germano / USA TODAY NETWORK
After a few rocky weeks, the Buffalo Bills are looking more and more like themselves lately. That may not necessarily be the case with the New York Jets, but they are playing much better as of late.
In past years we could overlook the Jets as a team that wasn’t too competent on either side of the ball. From our Week 9 matchup earlier this season, it was clear that coach Robert Saleh’s defense is a respectable unit, as they held the herd to 17 points, the fewest the Bills have scored all season.
Buffalo also lost the tight, hard-fought battle, 20-17.
Yet things change around the NFL quickly. In Week 9, it was Zach Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick from the 2021 NFL Draft, starting at quarterback. He may have helped get the ‘W,’ but the Jets finished with just 136 passing yards against Buffalo’s impressive defense.
The Jets have been much more of a threat since switching quarterbacks, going to 2018 fifth-round pick Mike White, who has five career starts under his belt. After averaging 182.7 passing yards per game with Wilson, the Jets are now airing it out for 342 YPG with White. Yet, it’s a very small sample size, with just two starts -- one of which came against the NFL’s worst passing defense, the Minnesota Vikings.
What we’re saying is White is bound to come back down to earth, but he’s not likely to have the Jets flying as low as Wilson was. With White under center, the Jets are a much scarier opponent, but as we said, this is in large part to their defensive playmakers.
We may not want to remember the Jets’ victory earlier in the season, but there are a few factors going Buffalo’s way for this upcoming matchup. For one, they are much healthier, getting players such as Tre’Davious White, Matt Milano, Jordan Poyer, and Spencer Brown back in the lineup. So while the Jets may have a more formidable passing offense, the Bills also have more reinforcements on hand, making this an intriguing battle.
Buffalo Bills vs. Jets game details, where to watch
- Sunday, December 11, 2022
- Start time: 1 PM ET
- TV channel - CBS
- Location - Highmark Stadium, Orchard Park, New York
© Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Matchups to watch
- Josh Allen vs. Jets secondary
One way the Jets were able to limit the Bills’ offensive attack in their first matchup of the year was thanks to a pair of lockdown cornerbacks. Josh Allen threw for just 183 yards, his lowest mark of the season so far.
But with Pro Football Focus’ second-highest graded corner in rookie Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner on one boundary and D.J. Reed, PFF’s 19th-graded corner, on the other, it’s not hard to see why teams continue to take flight against the Jets. Heck, even Justin Jefferson was held to just 45 receiving yards a week ago against New York.
The Jets play fast, they’re physical at the point of attack, and you better believe they also play dirty, getting flagged for multiple defensive holding penalties, and we all know those are just the ones the zebras happen to notice.
In turn, there are multiple reasons why Allen and the passing offense could continue to struggle, but they also have the advantage of facing them earlier in the season. It’s not like they’re set to try the exact same approach. Let’s see what adjustments they make, and maybe it’s trusting James Cook and the rushing attack a bit more.
- Protecting Josh Allen vs. Jets swarming pass-rush
Another reason why the Jets are so effective on defense is thanks to a potent pass rush. Gang Green has the NFL’s sixth-best pressure rate (24.6%), and to no surprise, it’s translated to having the sixth-most sacks in football (3 per game).
Leading the way is defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, who has nine sacks on the season. But really, it’s a team effort, as 13 different members of the defense have gotten into the sack column already this season. This unit swarms, and having a pair of lockdown corners in the secondary only buys them more time to get to the quarterback.
This means the Bills will have to keep Allen on his feet, which the offensive line failed to do in Week 9 at MetLife. Allen was sacked a season-high five times, contributing to a fifth of his season sack total, having gone down 25 times. Buffalo must be on their A-game this week with a playmaking secondary and a ferocious pass rush.
- Bills defense vs. Jet speed
Another way the Jets can sting Bills Mafia is by taking advantage of all their speed on the field. It starts at wide receiver, with two of their top three receivers who can run sub-4.4 40-yard dashes. Rookie first-round pick Garrett Wilson was clocked at 4.38 seconds coming out of Ohio State. Last year’s second-round pick Elijah Moore was clocked at 4.35 in his 40-yard dash, and return man Braxton Berrios also has some jets, being clocked at 4.44, but he looks much quicker in live action.
Suddenly, the Jets are taking better advantage of their playmakers. Maybe it’s from pent-up frustration that’s built all season long, perhaps it’s Mike White’s emergence, who knows, but they’ve shown they have the speed to change the game in a flash. In other words, Buffalo might want to find a way to get up by more than two scores as quickly as possible. If only it were that easy.
© Jamie Germano / USA TODAY NETWORK
Buffalo Bills vs. Jets game prediction
- This season’s record: Buffalo Bills 9-3, 1st in AFC East
- New York Jets: 7-5, 3rd in AFC East
The Jets are much better than the team we saw in Week 9, and that’s what’s kind of scary heading into this matchup. But the Bills have to have restored confidence in the locker room after three consecutive victories. And to be fair, the Bills are still the far-better coached team and also much more experienced. The Jets are still learning what it takes to be consistent, whereas the Bills have been here before.
Oddly enough, Vegas doesn’t see this as being a tough matchup for Bills Mafia, with Buffalo favored by 9.5 points. We just don’t see the score being so far apart, either. We also don’t foresee a ton of points getting scored, with both teams having top-10 defenses. Either way, the Rumbling Herd gets the win, making all Bills Fans happy for another week.
Game prediction: Bills 23, Jets 17 - Bills victory
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