Throughout the offseason, NewYorkJets.com reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg, Randy Lange, Caroline Hendershot and John Pullano will each give their predictions to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.
Today's question: Which lineup change will be the most significant in the Jets-Bills rematch?
EA: The Jets will start a new quarterback against the Bills and Buffalo will have its defensive quarterback in the lineup. In the Jets' 20-17 Week 9 triumph over the Bills, White was Zach Wilson's backup. White, one of three players since 1950 with 120+ completions and 1,400 pass yards in his first five career starts, averaged 342 air yards against the Bears and the Vikings. Jets OC Mike LaFleur said that White has "ice in his veins" and he'll need it Sunday. While the Bills will be minus star DE Von Miller, Jordan Poyer is a force who didn't suit up at MetLife Stadium. In eight games, Poyer has 4 INTs and 8 pass defenses. There will be new faces on both sides including RT George Fant and WR Corey Davis for the Jets, plus Poyer, CB Tre'Davious White and possibly LB Matt Millano for the Bills. Millano missed the teams' first clash as the Jets amassed 174 yards on the ground. The Bills 'backers have a new weapon to contend with in RB Zonovan "Bam" Knight.
EG: Bills S Jordan Poyer. Poyer leads the team with 4 interceptions, second with 8 pass defenses and is very good against the run. The safeties are a big piece of Buffalo's success on defense and Poyer, an All-Pro in 2021, is a big reason. The Jets ran for 174 yards against the Bills in Week 9 without Poyer and LB Matt Milano on defense. Milano did not practice Wednesday and Thursday because of a knee injury and is considered day-to-day, but Poyer's presence is big in the run game. Last time QB Mike White played against the Bills, Poyer had an interception. But White's stats that game (0 TDs, 4 INTs) were not indicative of the way he played. HC Robert Saleh said that the Jets were playing from behind too much, which caused desperation on offense. The Jets offense had 7 plays of at least 20 yards or more in Week 13 at Minnesota as the group totaled 486 yards on offense. But Poyer is an eraser for a Bills defense that has allowed 42 plays of at least 20 yards, which ranks No. 13 in the NFL.
RL: Surely Mike White for Zach Wilson since the teams' first meeting is significant. But I'm going to the other side of the ball and say that two Bills defensive changes could be impactful. One is S Jordan Poyer, who's been back for 3 games after missing the Jets and Vikings games with an elbow injury. As Jets OC Mike LaFleur said: "Poyer's just huge for them. He brings that veteran leadership and that presence." And those takeaways: He has a team-high 4 INTs, and consider in the 2 games he missed, the Bills were 0-2 with a minus-3 turnover margin, while in the 10 games he's played, they're 9-1 with a plus-3. But might Poyer's presence be balanced for the Jets by the absence of sack master Von Miller? Even before the LB went out on Thanksgiving with a season-ending knee injury, the Buffalo pass rush had been slipping. In the first 10 weeks, the Bills were 7th in sack rate; in the last 3 weeks they are 28th. A secret for White and the Jets is take advantage of the Miller-less rush and not get overconfident throwing the ball around with Poyer lurking down the deep middle.
CH: The lineup change that will be the most significant is going to be Corey Davis' return. His 17.8 yards per catch is second-best in the NFL and his 2 receiving touchdowns are tied for third-most on the team. What really sets Davis apart is his explosive plays. He has 13 big-play catches (receptions of 16-plus yards) on his 25 receptions at 52%, which is the best percentage in the NFL among WRs with a minimum of 25 receptions. His ability to extend plays in critical moments, particularly in the fourth quarter when both of his touchdowns have come, is a staple of the offense. Even last week against the Vikings Mike White and Davis connected on fourth-and-10 for 31 yards. Davis will give the Jets more options in the pass game and will draw attention from the Bills' defense.
JP: Bills LB Matt Milano did not practice Wednesday and Thursday, dealing with "some kind of leg-knee issue," according to Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott. If he plays his impact on the run game will be significant. Milano missed the Jets-Bills Week 9 game with an oblique injury. In the Jets 20-17 win, the Green & White ran for 174 yards, the second-most yards a team has run for against the Bills this season. They dictated the pace of the game late, allowing the Bills 12:21 minutes of possession in the second half. Milano has been a key player in the Bills No. 8 rushing defense that is surrendering 136.3 yards per game for the season and 95.2 yards when Milano plays. The Boston College product is third this season in tackles with 67 and tied for 11th in the league with 11 tackles for loss. Expect the potential matchup between Milano and RB Zonovan "Bam" Knight – who also was not active in Week 9 – and RB Michael Carter, who is expected to play after missing Week 13, to be crucial against the Bills. Knight has 221 yards from scrimmage in the last two games.