Color RushAs part of the 2017 NFL Color Rush, the Jets will debut their Nike Color Rush green uniforms while the Bills will sport an all-white ensemble. After sweeping the Bills last season, the Jets hope to split the season series before a mini-bye precedes a trip to Tampa in Week 10.
"It's the bigger game because it's the only one this week. It's the only one we're playing," said head coach Todd Bowles. "It's a conference game and then after this one, the next week will be an even bigger game, but we stress it all the time. We only stress one game at time, so it's a big game because it's the only game we're playing this week."
The Bills have been one of the NFL's surprise clubs in the early going, racing out to a 5-2 mark and leading the league with a +14 turnover differential. Are the Bills a legitimate playoff contender?
"I think they are," said Buffalo News reporter Vic Carruci during an appearance on The Jets Official Podcast Network. "I think Thursday night could provide even more of a solidification of that feeling because if they were to come out of that game with a win and sweep that divisional series and have another conference and division victory, they would find themselves in a position where they would really, really have to have some very bad things happen to them to fall out of it."
Handful of PlaysAfter reaching the midway point of their schedule with a 3-5 mark, the Jets will start the second half of their slate. It's been a season of streaks for the Jets, who lost their first two contests, rebounded with a three-game winning streak and are currently on a three-game slide. The Green & White lost double-digit leads against the Patriots and the Dolphins and they most recently lost a see-saw affair against the Falcons. The Jets haven't trailed at halftime since Week 2, but they are looking to overcome some late-game hurdles.
"I don't think they are forcing the opponent to beat them and that's unfortunate because there are some really good plays being made both offensively and defensively," said former Jets QB Chad Pennington on The Official Jets Podcast. "But those plays on a whole are being negated because of a handful of losing plays be it a turnover, a sack, missed tackles, missed communication. Whatever it may be, it's a handful, but a handful is enough to make you lose in the NFL."
Robby Expanding His RepertoireThe Bills will see a different Robby Anderson in Week 9. Anderson, who had four receptions for 22 yards in the Jets' 21-12 Week 1 loss, reached the century mark for the first time in his career last week against the Falcons. Among AFC players with at least eight receptions of 20+Yards, Anderson's 29.6% big play receiving rates leads the conference.
"He's proving that he's quick and he has enough physicality," Pennington said. "And if you miss on the jam, he's going to make you pay and that's what's he's been able to do. He's also been able to catch intermediate and short routes and shallow crosses, turn those five-yard gains to double-digit gains. He's certainly become a weapon for Josh McCown and the passing game."
A Great TestWhile LeSean McCoy is averaging 3.8 yards a carry, the Bills may have found their run game the past two weeks as "Shady" amassed 91 yards and 151 yards on the ground in wins over the Buccaneers and the Raiders. Although McCoy ran for 110 yards in the teams' first meeting, the Jets have allowed opponents to gain just 3.65 yards per carry since Week 3. That average places them sixth in the NFL, but they also must account for McCoy out of the backfield because he leads the Bills with 38 receptions.
"You have to get a lot of guys to the football. If he gets in space, he can make a lot of plays," said MLB Demario Davis, whose 84 tackles place him first on the Jets. "He's a great athlete and he's very consistent. It's going to be a challenge for us."
"He's going to be a tough draw whether you play him one time or two times," added Bowles. "He's a tough back. He's one of the best backs in the league. He's shifty, he's strong, he's powerful, he has great vision and he has great hands. It take a lot of discipline (to defend him) and you have to be very good as far as tackling."
Secondary MattersVeteran cornerback Buster Skrine passed a couple of protocol hurdles and has been cleared to return to action after missing a game due to a concussion. Fellow corner Morris Claiborne, who suffered a foot injury against the Falcons, did not practice Monday or Tuesday and is officially listed as questionable. The Jets acquired second-year CB Rashard Robinson in a pre-deadline trade with the 49ers while the Bills made some waves themselves with the trade for former Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin. The gameday inactive list just got a little bit more intriguing.