The Buffalo Bills and New York Jets will hit the field at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ this Sunday in a game where both teams are desperate for a win. After the conclusion of week 11, Bills and Jets fans are having doubts about their teams in a major way. Both the Bills and Jets currently have 5-5 records, but both records are disappointments for various reasons.
Going into the year, the Jets were a Super Bowl favorite and a team that a lot of football fans expected to see raise the Vince Lombardi trophy by season end. The Bills on the other hand were at the bottom of the pack and were expected to be mediocre at best. The beginning of the NFL season was not following that pattern and the Bills seemed to be the team to reckon with while the Jets were losing close games that the Bills were accustomed to losing last year.
The year started with the Bills shocking experts everywhere by beating perennial power house New England in week 3, intercepting the untouchable Tom Brady 4 times and ending New England’s domination of the Bills since week one in 2003. The Bills continued to impress by beating the Philadelphia Eagles “dream team” and trouncing the Washington Redskins, sacking John Beck 9 times.
Jets fans were not treated with a very favorable start to the year on the other hand. After 2 wins to start the year in a late comeback against the Cowboys and a routing of the Jaguars, the Jets dropped 3 straight games, falling to 2-3. Rex Ryan’s Jets did bounce back and win their next 2 games, improving their record to 4-3 going into their crucial week 8 meeting with the Bills in Orchard Park.
The Buffalo Bills, sporting an impressive 5-2 record, had its biggest meeting with the 4-3 Jets in a very long time. Ralph Wilson Stadium was rocking; fans provided whiteout conditions wearing their white clothing and the stage was set for the Bills to prove they could beat the Patriots and Jets in the same year and prove their relevancy. The game received a lot of national attention and expectations were high for a great game. As the clock wound down on the first half, the Jets went into the locker room with a 3-0 lead in a defensive struggle with both offenses making costly turnovers and failing to convert on crucial third downs. As the second half progressed the Jets dominated in every aspect of the game, beating the bills 27-11 in a score that makes the game sound even closer than it was.
Bills fans left with their head’s hung, but viewed it as one bad game in a long season, with their playoff hopes still a very realistic possibility. Jets fans had a sense that their season was just beginning and that if they continued to play like they did in week 8 for the remainder of the season, they would be a force. What fans of both teams didn’t realize was that their teams would lose both of their next 2 games going from 5-3 to 5-5 and hanging on to their playoff hopes by the slimmest of margins.
Although at the beginning of the year Bills fans probably would have been satisfied with a 5-5 record, that has changed people are frustrated. After building up a lot of hope in the city and improving to a 5-2 record, the Bills have lost their last 3 games by a combined score of 106 to 26. In all 3 games, the Bills have been man-handled and looked out of groove and not the team that fans saw earlier in the year. The Jets are also struggling after losing pretty handily to the Patriots on their own turf and then losing a game where they were a substantial favorite against the Tim Tebow-led Denver Broncos. Both teams are desperate for a win and that should be clearly seen on the field Sunday.
The Bills will play this weekend and the rest of the year without their best offensive player, as Fred Jackson was placed on injured reserve Wednesday afternoon. Jackson was on a tear this year with almost 1,000 rushing yards averaging 5.5 yards a carry. Not only is Jackson a running threat but also a huge weapon in the receiving game, averaging 11.3 yards a catch with over 400 receiving yards. Second year back C.J. Spiller will need to step up his game and play well if the Bills have a chance this weekend. Spiller faces a big test against a Jets defense that only allows 116.9 yards against a game. This is a golden opportunity for Spiller according to Bills head Coach Chan Gailey. The Bills also claimed running back Tashard Choice off waivers to improve their depth.
The Jets will get a spark with Shonn Greene expected to play, even though his status was questioned earlier in the week. The rushing attack will be vital to the Jets, considering the Bills rush defense is not spectacular. Mark Sanchez completed over 70 percent of his passes last time these teams met, but has struggled to stay on his feet the last few weeks. The last 2 weeks against the Broncos and Patriots, Sanchez was sacked a combined 8 times and knocked down multiple other times. Although the Bills pass rush has struggled the last few weeks, they have shown that they can explode sacking John Beck 9 times 4 weeks ago.
Turnovers will play a huge role in the showdown between the Jets and Bills. Earlier in the year the Bills led the league in takeaways but interceptions and fumble recoveries have declined the last month or so. The previous time the Bills and the Jets played, Sanchez threw a crucial interception in the red zone but after that played a pretty sound game. Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw 2 crucial first half interceptions that stopped the Bills momentum.
Defense as a whole could be the deciding factor this weekend. The Jets defense only allows 317 yards a game which is 7th in the NFL and a lot of that can be accredited to their stud cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Expect to see Aaron Maybin, former Bills 1st round pick, on the field a lot this Sunday. Since signing with the Jets head coach Rex Ryan has increased Maybin’s role and he has yet to disappoint. If the Jets defensive backs can take Stevie Johnson, the Bills top receiver, out of the game with Jackson, and key offensive lineman Eric Wood and Demetrius Bell it could be a long day for the Bills offense.
All in all, fans should be in for a treat this Sunday. Although both teams are on cold streaks, this game is essentially a must win for both teams. These teams do not like each other and want to make a statement Sunday. Look for the Bills to seek revenge after their loss to the Jets earlier in the month and the Jets team is angry after losing late last week to the Broncos. This essential elimination game should be the perfect way to end the holiday weekend for football fans of the Jets and Bills along with fans around the country.