Bills at Jets: 3 keys to a Buffalo win

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The Bills have experienced a wake-up call during the past two weeks courtesy of Florida’s Dolphins and Jaguars teams. Both clubs were underdogs who came to play when facing Buffalo.

While the Bills ultimately defeated their AFC rivals in Buffalo, they didn’t have the same favorable outcome the following Sunday in Jacksonville.

With the Jets next up this weekend in the first of two-division meetings this season, it’s the ideal time to make necessary adjustments in the teams’ mental and game preparations.

Unlike in recent years, this season Buffalo finds itself not as the perpetual NFL underdog out to prove itself, but as an odds-favored Super Bowl contender. They’ll have challenges across the remaining regular-season schedule with opportunities to prove they are just that, and it starts Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.

Here are three keys to the game for the Bills (5-3) against the Jets (2-6):

Protect Josh Allen

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, right, looks for a receiver as Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack (44) puts on pressure during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

To put it plainly, the Bills offense needs to protect and help Josh Allen. The failure to do so has a ripple effect on the rest of the offense’s ability to do its job, and to do it effectively.

While injuries kept difference-makers like RT Spencer Brown out last week, the Bills offensive unit played poorly at and around the line of scrimmage, missing blocks and allowing the Jacksonville Jaguars defense to take full advantage of their lack of discipline and preparation. Even with poor officiating and questionable play-calling, Allen has shown an ability to create offense if given some time.

His ability to execute, and to extend and make plays sets the Bills offense up for a significant amount of the success they’ve had over the past two seasons.

The Bills offense is flush with weapons, but if the QB doesn’t have time to read the coverage and determine the right route to take, having all that talent available doesn’t have the intended impact.

At the line, they’ll need to contain players like Jets DE John Franklin-Myers to make sure the QB has a chance to make the plays needed on their side of the ball.

With the passing game as the primary threat for the Jets to try and defend, it may open up opportunities for the Bills run game to gain some ground.

In Week 9 alone, the Jets gave up 260 yards with 7.0 yards per rush before contact in a loss against the Indianapolis Colts. This could bode well for Buffalo’s running backs, who are looking to bounce back from their own recent performances.

The Jets struggling defense has a lot of youth and inexperience and has been ravaged by injuries. They are also vulnerable to the Bills’ air attack.

Per JetsWire, the team allows 274.9 passing yards per game, which ranks fourth-most in the league. They have allowed 38 passing plays of at least 20 yards, which ranks second.

Be 'Disruptors' On Defense

Nov 7, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Buffalo Bills defensive end Greg Rousseau (50) rushes the quarterback past Jacksonville Jaguars offensive lineman Jawaan Taylor (75) during the first quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

The Bills defensive players need to be “disruptors” to the Jets, continuing their progression, and performing at the level they’ve shown this season.

Defensive leader Tremaine Edmunds might be sidelined should he still need time to recover from a hamstring injury, so other players will need to step up.

As for the Jets offense they’ll be facing, despite having Championship-winning Super Bowl MVP veteran Joe Flacco and journeyman Josh Johnson who had a career game and win for them, the Jets announced Mike White as their starter for Sunday’s game. The contest will pit a top ten first-round NFL pick QB in Josh Allen against a fifth-round selection in White, who Dallas took in the same draft.

White helped the Jets upset the Bengals in a historic first start, going 1-2 in three games of play since Wilson was injured. He’s performed better than Wilson by getting the Jets offense in more of a rhythm, but still lacks the experience that a veteran starter would have. It will be key for the Bills to disrupt that rhythm, applying pressure to that inexperience and containing the Jets offense.

That type of disruptive execution and pressure has earned the Bills some shutout wins, and can cause a ripple effect that could help Bills players like Levi Wallace and Cam Lewis. The former will be tasked with defending rookie WR Elijah Moore who may be targeted more as Jets wideout Denzel Mims was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list this week and might not play, and the latter will be filling in for Taron Johnson, who is recovering from a concussion.

Play Prepared, Disciplined Football

Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll at the start of practice.
Jg 080621 Bills Daboll 1

It’s unclear whether the Jaguars were simply not viewed as a threat on account of their record, or if Miami was seen as another likely win based on their previous matchups in the Sean McDermott era. But both teams reminded Buffalo’s players that they need to get back to treating each game as a serious matchup, as they seemed unprepared in recent weeks. As the team kept that disciplined preparation against opponents in their successful 2020 campaign, this will be important to correct and not repeat throughout the rest of the season, as they will be facing a number of teams who could have their own big game of the year and may see the Super Bowl favorite Bills as a team-to-beat.

Buffalo tends to be motivated against their AFC East rivals, which will be crucial as they still have two matchups apiece against the Jets and Patriots. Josh Allen spoke last season about how division games are worth double. They’ll need to play like it on Sunday.

While it’s often mentioned in good humor, the club also likes to remind the Jets (and Giants) that they are the “only team from New York”. Those games against them come with some additional motivation going in as well as confidence afterward when victorious.

It will take teamwork and complementary football from the offense, defense, and special teams to win games against the opponents remaining on their schedule. The team looked sloppy in its performance last week, and head coach Sean McDermott has spoken openly in recent years about not beating themselves with penalties and lack of discipline, so disciplined execution will be key. They also players like Isaiah McKenzie on special teams as well as their turnover-causing secondary on defense, who could add an impact play as well,

A win with good execution could help re-build some confidence, which would likely prove helpful with games against the Colts, Saints, Patriots, and Buccaneers all looming just on the horizon. A streak like the one after last season’s blowout loss to Tennessee would certainly be timely and could start here against the Jets.

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