Sunday, December 14, 2008

Jets vs Bills Preview

In what can now be considered a must-win, the slumping Buffalo Bills come in to Giants Stadium to take on a Jets team coming off two straight disappointing losses.

Buffalo scored three points in each of their last two games at home (and one in Toronto), while you all know the Jets' plight by this point.

J.P. Losman is going to start at quarterback for the Bills in this one, so the Jets will look to create some turnovers from Losman, who is prone to them. That was a theme in each of their last two losses, and the Jets have made more big plays defensively at home, so this will be an area the Jets will try to exploit by trying to pressure Losman. Or so you would think.

With an unimpressive passing game, except for Lee Evans, who is a phenomenal downfield threat, Marshawn Lynch will carry the brunt of the responsibility for moving the offense. Kris Jenkins and the Jets' run defense should be up for the task, as Lynch and his replacement Fred Jackson had trouble getting going in the first game on the ground.

On paper, the Jets match up superbly with the Bills offense. They don't throw to the tight end all that often, and they only really have one prominent downfield weapon in Evans. This means that the Bills will have trouble taking advantage of the Jets' defensive weaknesses.

Offensively, the Jets will likely try to run the ball down Buffalo's throat. Of course, you said that each of the last two weeks, and they just didn't get enough carries, but they will probably control the time of possession better.

Thomas Jones and Leon Washington have run the ball well all season long, and the Bills allow 4.0 yards-per-carry. The entire offense has lost its stride recently, but an effective running game will cure a lot of what ails the Jets' offense.

Brett Favre is on pace to throw for the fewest yards since 2003 even though his completion percentage is the highest its been in years. The short passing game has frustrated Jets fans for a while now, especially now with a quarterback who can in theory throw the ball down the field, and Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery's numbers have not taken off as many expected. Jabari Greer and Terrence McGee are a pretty solid pair of quarterbacks, so this probably won't be resurgent games for them, but the Jets might not need that.

What to watch for
The Jets defense has been torn apart through the air for a lot of the year, especially in the past two games. Buffalo should be a team the defense can take out their frustrations on, as they are in worse shape right now than the 49ers, and the game is in the somewhat-friendly confines of Giants Stadium. If the Bills move the ball the way the 49ers and Broncos could, then the problem has officially reached crisis mode.

Also, watch for receiver David Clowney, who very well might make his debut. The former Virginia Tech Hokie impressed in preseason and training camp, but an injury closed his chances at getting early playing time. He's been healthy for weeks, but the numbers game has prevented him from playing. Brad Smith may not be able to play, so the door may finally be open for the speedy Clowney to maybe make an impact.

With the stakes as high as they are, the Jets will simply have all the motivation in the world. Any possible hangover after the Patriots and Titans games are gone, as there is no excuse anymore for them to lose to an inferior team, especially at home. The Bills should be perfect medicine, as their offense has struggled and is downright inept without Trent Edwards. As long as Brett Favre takes care of the football and makes enough plays through the air, the defense and running game should win this game.

Jets 27, Bills 10 (final prediction)

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