On Sunday the New York Jets (1-1) take on the Buffalo Bills (1-1) at MetLife Stadium (4:25 EST). The Jets are trying to bounce back from a disappointing loss to the Patriots while the Bills come into MetLife energized after a last second victory over the Carolina Panthers. Here are some of the keys to the game from the New York Jets perspective.
Control the line of scrimmage- The Jets offensive line is going to have their hands full with Mario Williams (4.5 sacks last week), Kyle Williams, Alex Carrington, and Marcell Dareus. The Bills defensive line is very physical and does an excellent job of getting penetration into the backfield. Gang Green’s line led by center Nick Mangold must control the line of scrimmage and prevent jail break pass rushes. Keep an eye on right tackle Austin Howard as he goes up against Mario Williams.
Pound the rock- The Bills defense has struggled against the run yielding over 141 yards a game. The Jets must implement the power running game with Chris Ivory as the feature back. If the Jets are able to effectively establish the running game, the air attack will then open up for Geno Smith.
Return of Kerley- According to several published reports wide receiver Jeremy Kerley will be returning to action on Sunday. Kerley is very effective in the slot and should be utilized over the middle along with Santonio Holmes. The intermediate passing game will be key for Geno Smith and the Jets offense.
Keep defense off balance- The Bills are going to try and rattle Geno Smith with a variety of blitz packages. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg must account for the pressure and try to slow down the pass rush with screen passes and draw plays. The short passing game will not only give Geno confidence but will slow down the safeties and linebackers from attacking the box.
Stop Spiller- The Buffalo Bills up tempo offense is built around a very good running game that features two quality backs. C.J. Spiller is a dynamic playmaker that can beat a defense by running and catching the ball out of the backfield. Fred Jackson is also a dual threat that can eat up yards in a hurry. The Jets defense must slow down the Buffalo ground attack in order to get pressure on EJ Manuel. The linebackers and safeties need to do a solid job in pass coverage as the Bills may try to take advantage of some mismatches.
Shut down Steve- The feature match-up in the passing game will be Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson against Jets defensive back Antonio Cromartie. Johnson (11 catches, 150 yards, 2 tds) continues to display big play ability and must be accounted for at all times. Cromartie has struggled early on for the Jets and must raise his game on Sunday.
Secondary targets- If the Jets are able to contain Steve Johnson they then must focus their attention on wide receiver Robert Woods and tight end Scott Chandler. Both of these players are starting to form chemistry with EJ Manuel and will put pressure on the Jets secondary. A player to keep an eye on is rookie defensive back Dee Milliner who is off to a rough start.
Get after EJ- Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel has been doing an excellent job of getting rid of the ball quickly and avoiding turnovers. Manuel appears very comfortable in the pocket and can use his legs to get a first down if necessary. The Jets defense must collapse the pocket and get after Manuel. The sooner Gang Green’s defense can get EJ out of rhythm the better off they will be. Note: Linebacker Quinton Coples could return from injury on Sunday which will give a boost to the pass rush.
This is a very interesting match-up as both of the rookie quarterbacks will be facing very aggressive defenses. The game plan for both teams is almost the same therefore it comes down to execution and talent. While I think the return of Kerley is huge for Gang Green I believe that the Bills still have the edge with their offensive playmakers. Should be a very close, physical game. Bills 21-17