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Bills should follow 2009 Jets blueprint to make the playoffs

There are many similarities between the two teams, especially in areas that can be vital down the stretch.

Nearly two weeks ago, after some research, I tweeted this regarding the first and second half splits for the Bills defense:

That was sent out into the Twitterverse two days following Buffalo’s loss to Seattle on Monday Night Football, a game in which the Seahawks mustered just 50 total yards in the second half and scored just three points after halftime.

Up until that juncture, the Bills’ defense had been exceptionally and, honestly, somewhat surprisingly better in the third and fourth quarters than they it had been in the opening two quarters.

Following another stingy second-half showing, this time in Cincinnati against the Bengals in Week 11, it’s worth revisiting the tale of two halves for the Rex Ryan / Dennis Thurman defense.

Here are the up-to-date splits:

1st half: 4.88 yards per play, 15 TDs allowed, 10 FGs allowed, 10 sacks

2nd half: 3.91 yards per play, 8 TDs allowed, 8 FGs allowed, 21 sacks

Also, Buffalo’s defense has given up 103 first downs in the first half thus far compared to 87 in the second half.

The Bengals ran 37 plays after halftime against the Bills but managed to gain only 110 yards.

For league-wide perspective on how Buffalo’s defense has fared in both halves this season, here are the current NFL averages, Bills included:

1st half: 4.4 yards per play, 12.25 TDs allowed, 8.8 FGs allowed, 10 sacks

2nd half: 4.2 yards per play, 11.6 TDs allowed, 7.8 FGs allowed, 12.2 sacks

The Bills have allowed the following amount of points in the second half of their 10 games this season:

3, 17, 11, 0, 6, 3, 22, 17, 3, 0

During the bye week, with considerable time to ponder random football things and knowing full well that Buffalo would either need to go 6-1 or 7-0 down the stretch to make the playoffs, I was reminded of the W-L record similarity near the midway point of the season between this year’s Bills and that of the Rex-led 2009 Jets.

After some research on that squad, I sent this tweet:

(I’ll get to the run-game aspect later.)

I dug deeper, mainly because I was curious if that Gang Green club had comparable defensive success after halftime to the Bills this season.

The ‘09 Jets allowed an NFL low 4.59 yards per play in the second half. Unsurprisingly, during its 5-1 run to sneak into the playoffs, New York’s defense constricted to surrender just 4.16 yards per play in the second half of games, also the lowest in the league.

That defense wasn’t as Jekyll and Hyde as Buffalo’s has been thus far, but it was stingier in the second half. Overall, the Jets allowed 5.44 yards per play in the first half, which was the third best in football. In its final six regular season games, New York allowed 4.77 yards per play in the first and second quarters the second-lowest in the NFL.

Now to the running game.

Rex’s team handed off the football an almost unfathomable 607 times in 2009 (the most in the league), “won” the team rushing title (which isn’t really a thing) by nearly 300 yards and averaged 4.5 yards per rush, the fifth-highest figure in the NFL.

That year, only the Browns averaged fewer passing yards per game (130) than the Jets (149).

The Bills are on pace for 467.8 rushing attempts (only the Cowboys are on pace to finished with more), have a significant half-yard lead in the yards-per-carry department (5.3 to 4.8), and yes, Buffalo’s 186 passing-yards-per-game average is the lowest in football.

Now I’m not insinuating the 2016 Bills defense is as prolific as the 2009 Jets defense or that Buffalo is automatically destined to make the playoffs because of what New York did to get in seven seasons ago.

What I am getting at is this — this Bills team has many striking similarities to that Jets team and is coached by the same guy.

Buffalo basically has the same philosophy on offense and defense as New York did that year.

Though this Bills defense isn’t as well-rounded as that Jets group, it has demonstrated comparable tendencies after half time. New York was incredibly dedicated to the run game — as are the Bills — but Buffalo is clearly more efficient on the ground, and Tyrod Taylor offers much more as a quarterback than Mark Sanchez did.

With cold weather impacting many games over the final two months of the regular season, a sound run game and solid defensive play in the third and fourth quarters makes plenty of sense as a winning combination.

Will the Bills go on a 2009 Jets-like run and earn a spot in the postseason? We’ll have to wait and see. But there is a logical blueprint for Buffalo to follow on what it takes to get hot late in the season to get into the playoffs, one with which Rex Ryan is certainly familiar.