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Game Scout: Jets at Bills

The SportsXchange

New York Jets (5-4) at Buffalo Bills (3-7)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Ralph Wilson Stadium, Orchard Park, N.Y. - TV: CBS

*TV announcers: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts

*Keys to the game: The Jets return from the bye week for their second meeting of the season with the Bills. To sweep the season series for the third time in four seasons, the Jets need to put together a two-game winning streak -- something they've done just once in the past two seasons. An NFL-best run defense has helped offset an unexpectedly poor performance by the secondary. The Jets added safety Ed Reed -- his learning curve is nil as a pupil of coach Rex Ryan in Baltimore -- in an effort to shore up communication on the back end, but he was a liability in the open field with Houston. The Jets thrive on play-action, which mandates RBs Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell get off to a strong start. Raw rookie QB Geno Smith is 1-3 on the road. He threw the ball just 19 times against the Saints, and Ryan-coached teams improved to 10-0 when the starting quarterback attempts 20 passes or less. Powell, who racked up a career-high 149 yards of the Jets' total of 182 against Buffalo in the first meeting, could be more involved. The Jets lead the NFL in rushing defense and could place the burden on Bills rookie QB EJ Manuel. He's stressing a quick release to avoid a repeat of the first meeting: Manuel completed only 19 of 42 passes while being sacked eight times.

*Matchup to watch - Jets RT Austin Howard vs. Bills DLE Mario Williams -- Howard has been one of the few tackles in the league to silence Williams, who has 74.5 sacks in 108 career games but none in three games against the Jets since Howard became a starter in 2012. Howard containing Williams will give Smith the time he needs to complete the handful of key throws he'll need to complement the running game.

*Player spotlight - Jets PK Nick Folk: The one-time Mike Westhoff whipping boy hasn't missed in 23 field-goal attempts, including three-game winners this season. The Jets need to rely on him to produce sure points, but the forecast calls for whipping winds in Buffalo.

*Fast facts: The Jets are just the second team since 1978 -- when the NFL went to a 16-game schedule -- to alternate wins with losses through the first nine weeks of a season. ... For the first time since 1975, when O.J. Simpson and Jim Braxton each had 500-plus rushing yards in the first 10 games, the Bills have two backs over 500 (C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson).

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

Geno Smith knows his limitations as a clear second option in the offense for the run-centric Jets. New York's physicality on the line -- offense and defense -- dooms the Bills but EJ Manuel makes enough plays to keep the game tight.

*Our pick: Jets 18-12

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