Jets vs. Bills Week 10 pick and prediction

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Mike White embracing Michael Carter black jerseys
Mike White embracing Michael Carter black jerseys

Buffalo Bills (5-3) at JETS (2-6)

Sunday, 1 p.m.

Spread: Bills -11 1/2

If Mike White pulls this off, maybe the Jets really will have a full-blown quarterback controversy.

This game, against the AFC East-leading Buffalo Bills, is by far the toughest test yet for the Jets’ new star quarterback. Despite their maddening, inexcusable, 9-6 loss in Jacksonville last Sunday, the Bills are one of the top teams in the NFL. They also boast the No. 1-ranked defense in the league.

The 26-year-old White has been outstanding, efficient and even dazzling at times in his one full game against the Cincinnati Bengals and in his partial games against the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts. He’s shown he can move the Jets’ offense consistently, make big throws, and get the ball into his playmakers’ hands. He’s been a huge improvement over rookie quarterback Zach Wilson.

But this is an enormous step up in class.

The Bills are only giving up 262.2 yards per game. They also rank first in passing yards allowed (177.0), points allowed (14.75), third in rushing yards allowed (85.6) and they’re third in interceptions (11). Their pass rush isn’t as fierce as they hoped (18 sacks, which ranks them 18th in the NFL), but their secondary has been so good, especially at disguising coverages, that even quarterbacks with time don’t have many clear options for where to throw the ball.

That’s going to put a lot of pressure on White to do what he’s been doing – make quick reads and throws, probably mostly short ones, just to keep the offense moving along slowly. In other words, he’ll need to play “boring” football. And he’ll need to really hope that the Jets’ rushing attack – which has looked better the last two weeks, but still hasn’t topped 100 yards since way back in Week 2 – can do something against the Buffalo front.

The real unfortunate part for White, though, is that despite what the Jaguars were able to do to Buffalo last week, he’ll probably need to score a bunch of points to have any chance in this game. The Bills have the eighth-ranked offense and are averaging nearly 30 points per game, despite that disaster against the Jaguars.

What happened in that game? Bills quarterback Josh Allen said it was all because he “played like s—t.” He was still 31 of 47 for 265 yards, but didn’t throw a touchdown and was picked off twice. His offensive line really struggled too, and the Bills had just 301 total yards.

Don’t expect that to happen again, though, given the way Allen and the Bills have played this season. It should help him that the Jets’ defense has been mostly terrible for the past month or so. Their defensive line was practically non-existent in Indianapolis, which is a big reason why they gave up a ridiculous 260 yards on the ground. In fact, they’ve been ripped for more than 500 yards twice (by the Patriots and Colts) in the last three games.

Even a rebound performance by the defense isn’t likely to completely shut down the Bills the way the Jags did. Which means, once again, their hopes fall to White.

It’s sure hard to doubt him right now, considering he’s completed 72.7 percent of his passes for 702 yards, with five touchdowns and four interceptions in the roughly eight quarters he’s played so far. It’s been enough for the Jets to give him this start and keep their prized, young franchise quarterback on the bench for at least one more week.

If White can pull this one off, it could be a while before Wilson gets back on the field. And it would sure go a long way towards showing the Jets they might need rethink their long-term quarterback plans.

But this is still only White’s second NFL start. He’s been a miracle so far since he emerged out of nowhere. Winning this game might take his biggest miracle yet.

Pick: Take the Bills, giving the 11 ½ points

Prediction: Bills 37, Jets 20

My record straight up: 5-3

My record against the spread: 3-5