Jets QB Brett Favre will try to revive the ailing Jets against a prideful Buffalo team that has a history of spoiling Gang Green. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
They never make it easy on themselves do they? Over the last four weeks the New York Jets managed to have one of the most (if not the most) up and down stretches in recent memory.
They managed to pull off one of the greatest wins in the franchises history at New England in mid November and take it to then arguably the best team in the NFL in the Tennessee Titans. Those victories feel like they took place eons ago.
Fast forward to Monday after the loss to the 5-8 San Francisco 49ers and now their a franchise searching for its identity all over again. Gang Green come into Week 15 with an 8-5 record to faceoff with the reeling Buffalo Bills (6-7). The Jets hold a first place lead due to a tiebreaker over the Patriots, Bills and Dolphins, but the lead is anything but safe.
The Bills, coming off a playoff smashing 16-3 loss to the Miami Dolphins, look to salvage its season and give the city of Buffalo something to cheer about other than the University of Buffalo’s first ever bowl appearance (International Bowl) against UCONN. Buffalo has lost two of the last three.
This is a must win for both teams. It’s been said before about plenty of games for the Jets and it still ring’s true. If there’s any game the Jets need to win, this is it. Some feel the Jets rested on their laurels after their win over the Titans.
I don’t think we have (become) too comfortable at all,” OL Damien Woody said. “I think we have a veteran group. I think we know how to handle success. Like I said at the end of the season, you are going to have adversity. Nobody said it was going to be easy. We have lost a couple of games in a row, now we have to right the ship and the only way it’s going to happen is with the guys in the locker room.”
The Jets began their run off a win against the Bills five weeks ago. Gang Greens win streak began with a 28-24 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, but “experts” and analysts didn’t classify the Jets as serious until their 26-17 romping of Buffalo. Is it time for Favre to kick it into high gear? Or is he already at full throttle?
“What is Favretime? Magic or whatever?” Favre said. “We’ll see. My intentions are to go out and win every game. My intentions are to go out and make every play a great play. I know that doesn't happen all the time and it makes you scratch your head sometimes. One thing you can bet on is I'll do whatever I can to help this team win -- however that may be, through leadership, throwing, handing off, blocking, or whatever. That's one thing that's a given and I can promise you today.”
Most would say with the Bills on their heels and J.P Losman hitting anything but Buffalo receivers that this would be a cakewalk for the Jets. Not quite.
The Jets will need to contain two elements of Buffalo’s offense to win. Exhibit A-RB Marshawn Lynch. Lynch, although injured lately is still a threat to the Jets run defense. Stopping him is priority 1A.
Exhibit B-WR Lee Evans. Evans is closing in on another 1,000 receiving yard season despite having a supporting cast that’s less than stellar. The Jets need to shut him down and create more havoc around the line of scrimmage.
Jets Offense v. Bills Defense
The Bills are ranked 17th against the run and 12th in pass defense so look for Buffalo to receive a heavy doss of RB Thomas Jones this coming Sunday since the passing game has been anything but spectacular over the past two weeks. Favre has zero touchdowns over that span. However, the Bills secondary can’t be taken lightly with ball-hawk CB Terrence McGee and Donte Whitner lurking in the secondary. And having DT’s Marcus Stroud and Kyle Williams up front doesn’t hurt Buffalo’s cause. If Favre has a day like he did in San Francisco last Sunday, get the Alka-Seltzer ready Jets fans. “It’s a long season for everybody, not just for Brett,” Mangini said. “We put in so much time, effort and work to get to this point that it’s really such a short season right now. Everybody across the league is dealing with the same exact issues that we’re dealing with. It’s a level playing field from that perspective.”
Jets Defense v. Bills Offense
A few weeks ago, it’d be clear that this advantage went to the Jets. Not now. Gang Green has given up 227 yards rushing over the past two weeks. They’ve dropped to 31st in the league in passing defense despite DB Darrelle Revis’ four interceptions. If WR Lee Evans and Josh Reed get all day in open space the Jets will lose. The defensive backs have not been as physical the last two weeks than they were when their backs were against the wall against New England and the Titans. The secondary is the biggest concern. “It’s not just the secondary,” Mangini said. “It’s a coordinated effort. Third-and-seven, they have a quarterback that scrambles, (we) get past the quarterback and he’s able to scramble and get a first down. That keeps the two-minute drive going. You get a clean blitzer off the edge, it should be a sack, and he moves away from that and picks up 11 yards. It doesn’t operate just on the back end, it operates on both sides. It could be a certain coverage where you have to jam the receivers to the line of scrimmage so there’s not so much vertical separation between the underneath defenders and the deep defenders. That has to be better.”
Prediction: There’s no telling with the way this team has played as of late. The Jets beat Miami, but that was way back in Week 1 and lost to San Francisco. These two teams beat Buffalo. However Buffalo’s starting QB is hurt and suffered two straight losses. Then again, the Jets have lost the last two as well.
Jets 20 Bills 13
Game time is at 1:00 PM local time on CBS TV. Local radio is on 1050 AM ESPN and 103.9 WRCN Long Island. Be sure to log on to JI after the game for a complete recap!