Jamal Adams, Le'Veon Bell, Sam Darnold and other Jets have talked about their last two games this season being very important games, even of postseason-level quality.
And why not? The Steelers, whom the Jets beat, 16-10, last Sunday at home, are still trying to nail down a playoff berth today. And the Bills, whom the Jets lost to, 17-16, at home way back on opening day and take on today in the rain at New Era Field in Orchard Park, NY, in their season finale, have already secured the fifth seed in the AFC playoff grid.
The Jets, meanwhile, have won five of their last seven games under coach Adam Gase and are trying to finish 6-2 in the second half of the schedule, which would be their first 6-2 second half since the 2006 playoff team.
Considering where the Green & White were through the first half of the year, a 6-2 finish would be remarkable. They have overcome a multitude of injuries by turning to the "next man up" philosophy under Gase and coordinator Dowell Loggains on offense and under coordinator Gregg Williams on defense.
The rankings aren't all high and the games haven't all been pretty, but the Jets will be taking on the Bills with the NFL's second-ranked run defense and No. 7 D in total yards allowed and with an offense that continues to show flashes, especially with 40 points scored on opening drives that leads the league.
The defense could continue to purr along after regaining the services of Adams, the Curtis Martin Team MVP and the Jets' only Pro Bowl player, plus CBs Brian Poole and Arthur Maulet and first-round rookie DL Quinnen Williams, after injury absences in time for last week's tightly played victory over the Steelers.
Darnold and the offense hasn't been helped as much by some of the late-season return to health. WR Demaryius Thomas (hamstring/knee) will miss his third game. And the O will have to survive and thrive for one more week after the Jets placed Alex Lewis and Tom Compton, their two starting guards since the win at Washington, on Injured Reserve.
Thus with former Bills OL Conor McDermott set to make his second pro start at RG and Brent Qvale expected to step into LG for his first start of the season after missing the first 13 games on IR, the Jets are about to field their ninth different OL lineup this season in front of Darnold and Bell. Qvale would become the 11th different OL starter this year.
The Buffalo offense, led by second-year QB Josh Allen, and their top-ranked defense (third overall, third vs. the pass, second in points allowed), spearheaded by LB Tremaine Edmunds, S Jordan Poyer and DT Jordan Phillips, would normally be a problem, especially in front of the rabid Bills fans. But coach Sean McDermott has already said that while he'll open the game with his starters, he wasn't declaring how long they would play before getting them so rest for their AFC Wild Card Game the following week.
Here is the Jets' final seven-man inactive list of the season:
■ WR Demaryius Thomas
■ S Blake Countess
■ RB Josh Adams
■ RB Kenneth Dixon
■ S Bennett Jackson
■ DE Jordan Willis
■ TE Ross Travis (acquired on waivers Saturday)
And the Bills' inactive list has several frontline players, some expected and some not:
■ WR Cole Beasley
■ WR John Brown
■ WR/KR Andre Roberts
■ RB Devin Singletary
■ CB Tre'Davious White
■ TE Dawson Knox
■ DE Shaq Lawson
The Jets will be wearing white jerseys and white pants with green socks today. It's their third game in their new Spotlight White jerseys and pants, following up on the win over Dallas in Game 5 and the loss at Cincinnati in Game 12.
Bradley Rogers is the referee. It's the second Jets game he's officiated since being elevated to referee this year, with the first being the Green & White's first win of the year, over the Cowboys.