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JETS-BILLS: 10 Things to Watch For

Posted Nov 15, 2013

Many want to hear Rex Ryan say the Jets are going for it, whatever "it" might be. Why else acquire Ed Reed before Week 11? Why be 5-4 and not take aim at the playoffs?

Rex won't bite.

"We haven’t really thought about it," Ryan said today about things like stretch runs and postseason positioning for these suddenly (to some) in-play Jets. "We know there’s one game left and that’s the one we’re focused on, this one. Down the road, I understand where you’re coming from, the big picture of things, but it’s this game. Is it important? Absolutely, it’s important. That’s why we put every bit of our energy and all of our focus on it."

Ryan surely does want the Jets to bust out of their picket-fence prison of the first nine games, and as he assured, "We did lose" the bye week. So even though this is Game 10 of the season, it's Week 11. Time for one more stellar odd-week win.

Also, there is the divisional element in play. We have the opportunity to start 3-1 in AFC East games for only the second time under Rex. Division excellence in a division with New England is always elusive, but this is the next opportunity to break that grip.

Here are 10 things to watch for at Sunday's Jets-Bills game in the possibly inclement weather at Ralph Wilson Stadium:

1. The Sackmaster — The first time we ever faced EJ Manuel, back in Game 3, it was the proverbial jailbreak — eight sacks, our most in a game in more than three decades, led by Muhammad Wilkerson's two takedowns of the Bills' rookie signalcaller. Manuel left after Game 5 with an injury and returned to action last week. Now he again gets to stare down Mo, who with another two-sack performance will become our first double-digit sacker since John Abraham had 10.5 in '05.

2. Geno, Odd or Even? — Which Geno Smith and which Jets offense will show up at "the Ralph"? "Odd Games" Smith has produced TDs at a 17.5% drive rate and 24.4 offensive points per game, favorable comparisons to this year's NFL rates of 19.4%, and 21.4 points/game. "Even Games" Geno: 4.0% TD rate, 9.5 points/game. The Bills defense allows offensive TDs at an 18.2% rate and 23.1 points/game. It should be apparent early on which Geno/offense is in town for the game.

3. Blanket Coverage — With the expected returns of WR Santonio Holmes and TEs Kellen Winslow and Jeff Cumberland to our offense, Geno will have enough security blankets to open up a Bed, Bath & Beyond outlet. There's a good chance Smith will need all of them since the Bills, who started Game 3 at MetLife Stadium without S Jairus Byrd and CB Stephon Gilmore and lost CB Leodis McKelvin during that game, has all three back to work against the fortified Jets receiving corps. "They're quite skilled, they all have range," said OC Marty Mornhinweg, "so it's quite different that way."

4. Austin vs. Mario — It's always a danger for the offense to go up against Mario Williams, tied for third in the NFL with 11 sacks. But Mario, who moves along the Bills' strong front four from LE to RE, has been stonewalled by RT Austin Howard and LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson with only two career sacks in six games vs. the Jets, both coming for the Texans in 2010. As Rex said about Howard, "He did a phenomenal job this year and last year, too, and everybody thought Mario was getting doubled. No, he was getting doubled by Austin's left arm and his right arm."

5. Reed's Numbers — The newest Jet donned uniform No. 22 on Thursday and wore it again at today's practice. But longtime NFL and Ravens watchers know Reed has always performed on his highlight videos in No. 20. Kyle Wilson was still wearing 20 today, but word was that the parties may be talking about a number swap. So watch for Reed in whatever number he wears onto the Ralph Wilson turf, then watch for how often that number shows up during the game. "He has a defined role this week," DC Dennis Thurman said. "We’re going to use him in situations where we feel like he can help us be successful."

JETS-BILLS STATISTICS   NYJ      BUF   
Record 5-4 3-7
Points Scored/Game 18.8 19.9
Points Allowed/Game 25.7 25.9
First Downs Gained/Game 18.0 19.2
First Downs Allowed/Game 18.0 20.5
Yards Gained/Game 331.2 332.9
Yards Allowed/Game 325.2 355.9
Time of Possession/Game 31:30 27:16
Turnover Margin –10 –1

6. Can't Wait — No, it wasn't a slimmed down Bart Scott at WR talking about playing Buffalo this week. It was David Nelson, former Bills wideout who said this week he found out he was an ex-Bill via Twitter in March. "It should be emotional. It should be fun," Nelson said of returning to his one-time home office to do battle against old teammates. What would be fun for Jets fans to see? How about a red zone TD pass from Smith to the 6'5" Nelson? We need better RZ production, considering we're tied for last in the league in opportunities (21) and are next-to-last in RZ touchdowns (10).

7. In a Rush — With a sloppy day possibly in the offing, which of our RBs will the Buffalo defense prefer to face? Bilal Powell, who dashed and darted for a career-high 149 yards on 27 carries in Game 3? Or Chris Ivory, who bulled and burst for 139 yards on 18 carries to help carry us past New Orleans two weeks ago? Pick your poison.

8. In a Rush II — The best part of the Bills' attack is their rush offense, ranked seventh in the NFL at 140.7 yards per game. The best part of the Jets' attack could be their run defense, ranked No. 1 in the league for the third straight week in both yards/game (73.8) and yards/carry (3.05). But in the teams' last three meetings, our defense has yielded four 40-yard plays to C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson combined (three runs plus the middle screen to Spiller late last year). Whoever wins this battle could win the day.

9. More Folk Hero? — Watch closely the first two times Nick Folk lines up for field goals. They could be full of team history and drama. If Folk hits his first try, he'd tie the franchise mark of 24 consecutive field goals set by Jay Feely in 2008-09. If he hits his first two, he'd break the record. He's missed one field goal in each of his previous three games here as a Jet, including a blocked kick (his last miss) in last season's finale here. The expected winds of Orchard Park aren't likely to do Nick any favors.

10. Just Wind, Baby — The folks in Western New York like to say, "Don't like the weather? Stick around five minutes." That could be in play Sunday with rain (but not snow) expected as well as winds gusting to 25 mph. This could make it tricky for Folk's kicking and for Smith's longer throws, and won't do Manuel any favors as well as he'll be trying to thread passes to a wideout group that won't include injured starters Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods.

JETS-BILLS RIVALRY FACTS Record/Score
Regular-Season Series Record Bills 55-51
     Last Game Jets 27-20, 2013
     Last Bills Win Bills 28-9, 2012
     Current Streak Jets 7 out of 8
Regular-Season Record @ BUF Bills 29-23
     Last Game Bills 28-9, 2012
     Last Jets Win Jets 27-11, 2011
     Current Streak Jets 4 out of 5
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