It's been a month and a half since the Jets last faced the Bills, in an ugly game in which they were unable to come out on top of in overtime. But the most heartbreaking loss in Week 6 was when defensive tackle Kris Jenkins went out for the season with an ACL tear.
Big Jenks has been seen around the locker room nearly every day, giving advice to younger players, and making his presence known throughout the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, as illustrated in the newyorkjets.com exclusive series "Kickin' It with Kris."
There have been games that he's been missed more than others, but overall the committee filling his spot on the D-line has performed admirably.
"We all knew that you cannot replace a Kris Jenkins," said DE Marques Douglas. "I mean, he is one of the largest, most effective guys in the middle I've seen in a long time. We didn't try to replace him. We just tried to step up our game knowing that he was going to be missed. We also have some playmakers in the room."
The Green & White D is coming off one of its best performances, holding the Panthers — who came into Week 12 averaging 159 yards rushing — to 179 total yards and tamed the two-headed attack of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathon Stewart for 75 yards on 25 carries.
"That's just a result of everybody playing their part and playing the technique that you're suppose to play," said DT Sione Pouha. "The defense is built for us to succeed if we do the right things and execute proper techniques. If you put two and two together, you get good results."
With the Bills next on the docket, on Thursday, the Jets are prepared to halt an offense that is just starting to click.
Over the past two weeks the Bills have racked up 679 yards (339.5 a game) after averaging just 268 in the first nine games. A big catalyst has been QB Ryan Fitzpatrick replacing Trent Edwards as the starter and his ability to get the ball to the Bills' weapons, most notably Terrell Owens, who has had 14 receptions for 293 yards and two TDs in those two games.
"He's been a big addition to their offensive attack these past few games," said DT Howard Green. "That being said, we have to keep our eyes disciplined and keep ourselves in the right position to hold our gaps up front on defense. The plays are going to come to you. You just have to make them when they are there."
"They've opened up the offense. It's no longer run-first-run-second," said Douglas. "T.O. has opened up the offense as well as Lee Evans underneath. If we don't assert ourselves in the first quarter, second quarter and third quarter, it will be a long day for us."
The running game, meanwhile, hasn't performed up to preseason expectations behind an inexperienced O-line.
Marshawn Lynch was the starter in Weeks 4-10. But Bills interim head coach Perry Fewell decided to go with Fred Jackson, Buffalo's starter the first three weeks while Lynch served an early-season suspension, last Sunday against Miami. Jackson had 73 yards rushing and 43 receiving in the 31-14 win.
Green said Jackson is "more of slasher-type guy. We need to remember to get to the outside on the tosses, sweeps, things like that. Anything to the outside it will be Fred Jackson pretty much."
"Jackson is a hard runner," said LB Marques Murrell. "He's more of a workhorse if you want to call him something. The main thing is to set the edge on him. Stop him and turn him back inside to the big guys."
And the Bills' current QB has the ability to move as well. Against the Dolphins, Fitzpatrick rushed seven times for 50 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown.
"He's not a Michael Vick, but at the same time he's not a Carson Palmer," said Douglas. "We do respect his running ability but we're not going to change what we do. We're going to try to sit those linemen back in his lap and hopefully guys like Darrelle Revis and Lito Sheppard will knock down the wide receiver so we can get a lot of sacks."
The Jets' second-ranked defense has grabbed 16 of its 21 total sacks in the past five games. They hope to bring more of that pressure to the Rogers Centre and shut down a Bills offense that is starting to get into rhythm.
"I'm excited, I've never been up there so I'm excited to see what Canada is about," said Pouha. "I know they've played there a couple times but it will be a fun time to go out there and check it out."
"I think the guys will be 'up' on Thursday night playing in front of a national audience," said Douglas. "I've been to Canada. I know they have some of the most enthusiastic fans as far as professional sports. The NHL is there, basketball is there, so why not the NFL? It will be exciting to see how they embrace the NFL experience."