It was only two months ago when many people believed the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets might not only be two of the worst teams in the NFL, but contenders to finish with the lowest win total in the NFL overall.
After all, new General Manager Brandon Beane and new head coach Sean McDermott came into Buffalo, and started dismantling remnants of regimes past, with eyes on the future. Meanwhile, only two seasons removed from an impetuous free agent spending spree, General Manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles found themselves with what many considered to be the least-talented roster in the NFL, and their job security being tenuous at best.
And yet, halfway through the season, not only are the Buffalo Bills only one-half game behind the New England Patriots in the AFC East standings, but their 5-2 record is tied for the second best record in the entire conference. Their +38 point differential this year is the third highest in the conference, and even greater than that of the Patriots. And perhaps most notably, Buffalo is the only team in the AFC to have not lost a single home game this season.
If the New York Jets entered this game with a 1-6 or 2-7 record, nobody would’ve thought twice about it. There was still a ton of housecleaning needed on that team, before they could be anywhere near competitive in the division or the conference. And yet, their 3-5 record is actually something to be positive about, considering they’ve won three of their past six games, after starting the year 0-2. Their three losses in the past six games were all seven points or loss, and they actually held third quarter leads in two of those three losses.
The biggest matchup to watch in this game will be whether the beleaguered Jets rushing defense can stop a Bills team that would prefer to pound the football right down the collective throats of their opponents.
The Jets are ranked 27th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed to opponents, giving up over 128 yards on the ground per game. Meanwhile, Buffalo is ranked 10th in the NFL in rushing yards per game, putting up an average of over 124 yards per game on the ground. Veteran running back LeSean McCoy of the Bills is currently ranked 6th in the NFL in rushing yards with 521, and quarterback Tyrod Taylor is always a threat to pile up rushing yards because of his athletic ability.
If the Bills are able to control the clock with the running game, then it will be up to the Jets to score anytime they get the ball on offense. Unfortunately, that might be easier said than done. In contrast to the Jets, the Bills are one of the most stout teams in the NFL against the run, giving up only 80 yards per game (good for third in the NFL). On top of that, they only allow 16.9 points per game to opponents in general (also good for third in the NFL). The Jets only score less than 20 points per game themselves, so it might be the case where the first team to score 20 points ends up winning the game.