The Bills and Jets will battle for 2nd place in the AFC East tonight. Also, Rex Ryan wearing a Clemson helmet.
Rex Ryan’s return to New York should make for an intense battle between these division and in-state rivals. The winner will immediately move into 2nd place in the AFC East and take over the AFC’s top Wildcard spot. Despite a plethora of injuries and early season struggles (possibly related to the aforementioned injuries), I still like the Bills to finish the season ahead of the Jets. I have no stastical information to back up that assessment. It’s simply a gut feeling. Here’s why:
1. When Buffalo’s weapons are healthy, that offense is a top 10-12 offense in the league. When Tyrod Taylor, Sammy Watkins and LeSean McCoy are in the lineup, the Bills are 3-1 and averaging 33 points per game. Their lone defeat came at the hands of the undefeated Patriots. If McCoy can ever stay healthy, I think he’ll prove he’s still one of the three best backs in football. Remember, he’s only 27.
2. Ryan Fitzpatrick still quarterbacks the Jets. While he’s been surprisingly good and reliable this season, there is still half a season left for Fitzparick to revert to form. Yes, his receivers are better than anywhere else he’s been, but the Jets ground game doesn’t move the chains. New York averages 3.8 yards per rush, good enough for 24th in the NFL. Without a reliable ground game, there will come a point when Fitzpatrick will need to carry the offense entirely through the air. He’s already done it at times this season. I just don’t see it as a recipe for success.
3. New York’s wins are not that impressive (CLE, IND, MIA, WASH, JAC). There’s one potential playoff team in that mix. Meanwhile, all three of their losses have come against legitimate playoff contenders. (YES! The Raiders are finally a legit playoff contender. Woohoo!) Furthermore, the Jets defense has taken a dive the last three weeks. Against the Patriots, Raiders and Jaguars, New York allowed over 300 yards passing. Against the Raiders and Jaguars, the defense surrendered an average of 445 yards per game. What do the Patriots, Raiders, and Jaguars have in common? They’re 3 of the top 11 passing offenses in yards per game and touchdowns.
4. Speaking of airing it out, Buffalo doesn’t rank near that level in passing offense (obviously). However, Sammy Watkins can shred an opposing secondary. After laying a goose egg in Week 1, Watkins has only played two full games. His stats in those two games; 14 REC, 228 YDS, 2 TD. Furthermore, if you extrapolate Watkins’ numbers in the two games he left early due to injury, they’d look like this; 12 REC, 252 YDS, TD. Like McCoy, Watkins is an elite player if he can stay on the field.
Though the Jets are at home and playing with the added motivation of showing up a former (and arrogant) coach, I still like a healthy Bills team to leapfrog the Jets in the standings. BILLS If I were Charles Barkley; Bills +2.5