COMMENTARY | The Buffalo Bills enter their Week 3 showdown with the New York Jets with great momentum after their last-second victory over the Carolina Panthers in Week 2. Not only was it nice to win in such thrilling fashion, but the way the Bills took care of business during the game was especially encouraging.
The defense generally implemented new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine's system to perfection, keeping constant pressure on Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. Notably, Bills superstar Mario Williams lived up to his reputation, tallying 4.5 sacks and toying with the Panthers offensive line throughout the entire game.
Now the Bills defense will look to do the same to the Jets on Sunday. If anything, on paper it would seem like the Bills should have an easier time shutting down the Jets offense than it had with the Panthers, considering the inexperience of Jets quarterback Geno Smith and the team's general dearth of playmakers.
With this in mind, it would not be a stretch to suggest that the Bills have a legitimate chance to pitch a shut-out on Sunday or, at the very least, keep the Jets from scoring any touchdowns. On the way to that happening, here are the three players on the Bills defense that are likely to have the biggest games.
It would seem easy to suggest that Mario Williams would be set for another record-breaking day against the Jets. After all, he is the most explosive pass rusher in all of football when he is healthy, and he's currently healthy. Such a conclusion seems so obvious that it's likely that even the Jets will be prepared for it. As a result, I expect much of their offensive attention to be on not letting Williams be the one who beats them.
The added attention to Williams' end of the line will open things up for the pass rusher on the other end of the Bills' line, Alex Carrington. A 2010 3rd round draft pick by the Bills, Carrington is ripe for a breakout. Although he does not have any sacks this year, he did a great job in Week 2 of keeping Newton contained and in the pocket to allow Williams to apply consistent pressure from the other side. This week against the Jets I expect Carrington to break through and get a couple of sacks of his own while the Jets line focuses on Williams.
The Bills' second round pick in this past spring's draft, Alonso is already establishing himself as one of the leaders of the Bills very good defense. As a middle linebacker, Alonso has shown a rare ability to excel in defending both the pass and rush. His toolbox of talent was on full display in Week 2 against Carolina, as he registered nine tackles, a sack and an interception.
Expect a similarly-impressive, all around performance from Alonso against the Jets. In terms of blitzing, he should be able to fluster Smith into making poor decisions, especially when you consider the attention that will be paid to stopping the defensive line rushers. At the same time, the Jets uninspiring running back duo of Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory should not present much of a challenge for Alonso either in coverage or when he comes up to stop the run (assuming either can even get by defensive tackles Marcel Dareus and Kyle Williams).
Through two games, Smith has four interceptions to just one touchdown. In the Jets' Week 2 loss to the New England Patriots, he looked especially lost when under pressure and did not show an ability to make good decisions when needed. Because of the intense pressure that Carrington, Alonso and the others will likely have Smith under, expect a series of more poor decisions on Sunday.
Due to an injury to Buffalo's top cornerback Stephon Gilmore, McKelvin has been forced to defend opposing number one receivers in his absence. After two weeks he has shined in the role, which included shutting down Steve Smith in Week 2. McKelvin has become much better with his timing and decision making, which couples well with an elite athleticism that allows him to take advantage of any mistakes made by opposing quarterbacks. The combination of Smith's likely mistakes and the Jets lacking any true number one receiver should lead to a great day for McKelvin, with the possibility of at least one interception looking likely.
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Del Pearson is a lifelong Bills fan from Upstate New York. He has been attending games since childhood and idolizes Jim Kelly. Follow Del on Twitter @DelPearson44.
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