Here are seven Buffalo Bills storylines to watch for during the lead up to the team’s Week 14 matchup with the New York Jets:
Josh playing like s---
Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
It’s harsh, but quarterback Josh Allen played a huge part in his team’s downfall against the Jets (7-5) in a 20-17 loss in Week 13. Allen even put it on himself, saying it’s tough to win when “your quarterback plays like [expletive].”
Allen’s efforts that day included two interceptions, both in the red zone, plus two fumbles, one of which was lost. The QB has cleaned that up in recent weeks, but he has to keep that up if the Bills (9-3) are to even their AFC East record to 2-2.
Bills cornerback Kaiir Elam (24) Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
The cornerback position has been the most interesting position for the Bills lately.
Thankfully, Tre’Davious White has slowly returned to the fold. Over the past two weeks, White has seen an increase in snaps played as he returns from his knee injury.
But last week against the Patriots it was complex behind White. Starting across from him was veteran Xavier Rhodes. That was the case because first-round rookie Kaiir Elam was a healthy scratch. In addition, head coach Sean McDermott said Dane Jackson rotated behind White and Rhodes because he was battling an illness earlier in the week and missed practice time.
This position is one to watch ahead of kickoff against the Jets.
Mike White's world
A.J. Klein of the Buffalo Bills hit Jets quarterback Mike White (USAT photo)
The top storyline regarding the Jets will be Mike White. While New York did defeat Buffalo earlier this year with Zach Wilson under center, the Jets decided to bench him and turn the QB spot over to White.
In the two weeks White has started since then, New York is 1-1. More importantly ahead of Week 14, White’s history against the Bills… is not good for him.
In Week 9 last season, White and the Jets lost 45-17 at home to Buffalo. The Bills defense intercepted him four times. Ouch.
Having a healthier defense
Jordan Poyer #21 of the Buffalo Bills (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
While the Bills won’t and did not use this as an excuse in their loss to the Jets earlier this season, they did actually have a pretty good reason for some struggles: Injuries.
Among players who missed that first outing:
All four of those names above are likely to play in Week 14. The ones that were missing on defense were particularly tough to deal with. That won’t be the case this time and that should be something the Bills can hang their hat on this upcoming week.
Coping with their defense
Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams (95) Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
There is two sides to the coin when it comes to defense this upcoming Sunday.
The Bills still have to deal with the Jets defense. That will be no easy task and it will be talked about all week in the media by the likes of Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs and others on Buffalo’s offense.
For reference, look no further than overall team rankings. The Bills have a solid unit that has battled injuries. Buffalo slots in as the No. 10 defense (320.2 yards per game allowed). New York is at fourth (307.0). The Jets have a defense to take very seriously, and the Bills will do just that.
Run games were bad
Jets running back Michael Carter (32) Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
In terms of on the field in Week 9, the ground game really did the Bills in against the Jets in that loss.
Combined, the Bills got a total of 39 rushing yards from their running backs, Devin Singletary and James Cook. Allen led the way with 86, but that’s not a balanced attack at all.
Defensively, Buffalo allowed 174 yards on the ground. New York was led by Michael Carter’s 76 rushing yards.
The Bills have to tighten up against the run on both sides of the ball.
Bills tight end Dawson Knox (88) Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports
There have been a few bright spots, but tight end Dawson Knox and receiver Gabe Davis have not been consistent for the Bills. Receiver Stefon Diggs is very reliable in 2022, but help would be great.
Knox has never been known for putting up big numbers in terms of catches and yards. He only has one outing over 100 yards in his career. In 2022, he only has two games over 50 yards with just two touchdowns.
Davis has tied his career-high thus far: He has 35 catches. But many expected more out of him at this point. Davis set his previous career-highs as a rotational player and he’s on pace for around 54 catches this season. A starter in a pass-heavy offense like Buffalo’s should be expected to put up more than that.
In terms of yards, Davis has a career-high 665 already, but again, you’d expect better. Had it not been for his 98-yard catch against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 5, Davis would not have a single outing over 100 yards this season.
Good news: There’s still time for both to heat up before the postseason.