Three things on my mind as the Bills get ready for a loser is probably done game against the Jets…
The Brady Bunch
The top story for the Bills this week is game one for the offense under interim coordinator Joe Brady. It’s hard to expect a new guy to reinvent the wheel offensively in week 11, especially on a short week. Perhaps, he doesn’t have to.
Buffalo’s offense is not a continuous array of failure. It’s a big reason why the analytics crowd continues to crow about how glowing the underlying numbers are for the Bills. The problems are a bad QB decision here. A missed protection there. A dropped pass or two over there.
The change in leadership on offense likely comes with a renewed focus. Sean McDermott is also hoping the optimism that usually accompanies a fresh start will produce a needed vibe adjustment. All of that should help.
Brady does not have to be revolutionary. Or a genius. If this change can coerce the Bills offense into a couple less mistakes per game, it will go a long way.
More James, Less Josh?
The Jets defense remains as intimidating a unit as there is in the passing era of the NFL. Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed continue to have a valid claim as the best corner combo in the NFL. The pass rush is led by star defensive tackle Quinnen Williams and followed by an unending stream of B+/A- rushers that make every quarterback’s afternoon a nightmare.
What the Jets have been surprisingly bad at is stopping the run. They are tied for 21st in the league allowing 4.3 yards per carry. Their 138 yards allowed per game is second worst in the NFL. A few weeks ago, Saquon Barkley put 128 yards on the Jets (albeit on 36 carries) despite the Giants playing Tommy DeVito at quarterback most of the game and Brian Daboll making it painfully obvious Barkley would be his only method of moving the ball.
James Cook is hardly a bellcow running back. The Bills have faced the third least 8-man boxes in the NFL this season, so even Cook’s good days come with a grain of salt. The Bills are are also far from inept running the ball. Cook ranks 4th for non-quarterbacks with 5.1 yards per carry.
I wouldn’t mind seeing the Bills try to work Cook and the run game a bit more. At least see if you can exploit this rare Jets defensive weakness before going back to another day of “Josh Save Us”. It’s not as if the Allen driven passing game plans have worked much against the Jets lately anyway.
Let Jets Be Jets
While the doom and gloom meter has been pinned to 11 in Buffalo lately, things might actually be worse for the Jets. Back to back losses to the Chargers and Raiders created a whole new tidal wave of criticism for Jets QB Zach Wilson. And let’s not mince words… he ain’t good.
The problems in New York the last few weeks actually run a whole lot deeper. The Jets have committed 25 penalties the last three games and 12 alone on offense in the previous two losses. Many have been killer, preventing third down conversions and even touchdowns.
In addition, the special teams units that were ranked the best in the NFL a few days ago have been leaking points like a sieve. A punt return touchdown gave the Chargers a lead they never relinquished two weeks ago. Another punt return set the Raiders up for a tying field goal last week.
It’s possible the stress of an offense with a league low eight touchdowns this season is forcing the dam to burst in a variety of other areas. Regardless, the Jets have lately become very good at finding ways to lose a game. The Bills have some developed some alarming ability in area as well, but the Jets appear better at it. Stay out of their way and let them do what they’ve long done best.
In a bit of a slump since the 6-0 start with losses in three of my last four picks. Last week hurt because Dalton Kincaid missed going over 5.5 catches by one reception and he was in the back of the end zone as the target for Allen on his TD run against the Broncos if any Denver defender had bothered to stop ball. I’m still 7-3 for the season and ahead 4.6 units.
Ready to pick myself back up this week with what seems an easy play. The Bills offense is struggling. The Jets offense is near non-functional. Let’s find an under we like.
Buffalo has scored ten points by halftime only once in the last six weeks. The Jets have done it only twice all season. The total for the first half is 19.5. Ten plus ten equals 20. Therefore, the under should be the easy call. Fair warning: Jets games have reached 20 points at halftime more often than not (five times in nine games). Those over games have all either featured non-offensive first half points or the Chiefs, Cowboys or Eagles on the other side.
The last note scared me off from trying to chase a higher score with a lower first half over/under. I can bet under 19.5 points with even money at FanDuel (+100). That’s good enough.
There can now be no underestimating the depths to which the Bills may sink this year. They already have inexplicable losses against two of the four worst teams on their schedule and came within a whisker of making it three of four. They have dropped two of the last three to the Wilson-led Jets. This game is no guarantee.
All that said, the Bills are still wildly better at quarterback. They’re at home and the Jets have not scored a touchdown in 11 quarters. They’ve gone 36 drives without a touchdown. It’s ridiculous how much trouble an NFL offense with Breece Hall and Garrett Wilson has finding the end zone. Jets kicker Greg Zuerlein is fantasy football secret weapon these days.
There’s no doubt bad luck has played into the Bills struggles on offense. Buffalo has fumbled only eight times on offense (they are listed with two more, but those are on end of game desperation lateral plays). They have lost seven of those fumbles. Fumble recovery is pretty much a 50-50 proposition. Recovering only one of your own eight fumbles is horrendous luck, even if we’re only talking about three more lost fumbles. (The Bills defense has grabbed 7 of 16 opponent fumbles. Not nearly as overt, but still on the short end of the stick)
At some point, that luck has to turn. It may not even have to be this week to beat the Jets, but the sooner, the better.
Games involving the Jets do tend to make both offenses look ugly. Expect this game to be fairly unpleasant on the eyes. I do think the final score will make BillsMafia feel pleasant enough. Give me the Bills 19-5.