5 Players to Watch as Jets Go Toe to Toe with Brawny Buffalo

Zach Wilson Seeks Bounceback from Patriots Game; Secondary Gets Big-Time Test from Josh Allen & Co.


Sunday's Jets-Bills game could have been a lot of things: a chance to rise to 7-2 with a sixth consecutive win, go to 3-0 in the division, get excited for a big second-half push toward playing meaningful December games.

The last can still happen, of course, but the home loss to New England changed the dynamic as the Jets head toward their Week 9 bye. They now must find ways to slow down QB Josh Allen, WR Stefon Diggs and the powerful Bills offense, find the creases in the stingy defense and build a hard-fought victory or else face the consequences for postbye Game 10 at Foxboro and their quick rematch with the Patriots.

Here are five players in Gotham Green and Spotlight White — and no doubt some Stealth Black — to keep an eye on at MetLife as the Jets do battle with the brawny 6-1 Bills:

QB Zach Wilson — The football protector had a setback when, after 3 games without a turnover, he threw 3 INTs to the Patriots. All the more reason not to go to sleep on the Jets' second-year QB, who also had his first 300-yard passing game vs. the Pats (admittedly much of that coming late in catch-up mode) and completed two 50-plus passes in a game for the second time in his career (no other Jet has done that once since Geno Smith in 2014). Wilson seemed unhappy after last week's showing, and that's been when he sets his jaw and rebounds smartly at home (Tennessee OT win last year, Miami pullaway victory this season). He'll need his A-game for the Bills, who are the NFL's top intercepting unit so far this year, although S Jordan Poyer (4 INTs) could be limited with an elbow injury.

WR Garrett Wilson — The WR room figured to be a monsters' lair, but scary things haven't streamed out of the building quite as envisioned. Yet the wideouts plus TE Tyler Conklin, RB Michael Carter and others need to help out Wilson and the offense with those Robert Saleh "explosive" plays. Maybe G.Wilson is ready to do it again. He had his second pro 100-yard receiving game vs. New England, and so at any time can break that franchise-record tie for most 100-yard games by a Jets rookie that he now holds with Al Toon from 1985. But is the shifty, sure-handed Garrett ready to join the ranks of Ja'Marr Chase last year and Justin Jefferson in 2020 with many 100 games? That would be something to see.

DL Quinnen Williams — Quinnen is a semi starting to roll downhill. He picked up his sixth sack vs. New England and is now one sack away from equaling his career high of seven in 2020. He's got QB hits in seven consecutive games with his 16 hits tied with edge teammate Carl Lawson for second-most in the NFL. Allen is having a crazy good season — and he's becoming an engagingly goofy Doritos pitchman as well — but one Achilles heel for him has been giveaways. He's turned the ball over eight times this season and eight times in his seven games vs. the Jets. If Mr. Inside, Williams, and Mr. Outside, Lawson, can get up some heads of steam, that would certainly help the Green & White keep tabs on Allen.

Safeties Jordan Whitehead and Lamarcus Joyner — This could well be a trial by fire for the entire Jets secondary. Diggs often works his offense's right side, so Sauce Gardner will welcome the test by one of the game's top wideouts. But Diggs can split left as well and so can Gabe Davis, the emerging weapon who's scorched RCBs and safeties — he took a very good S in Pitt's Minkah Fitzpatrick to the house twice, on 98- and 62-yard go routes from Allen. So here's looking at Joyner, who leads the Jets defense with 3 INTs and 4 takeaways, and Whitehead, who's helped this secondary keep a lid on opponents' deep passing games (17 completions of 20-plus yards allowed, fourth-best in the NFL).

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