The Buffalo Bills look to sweep the season series against the New York Jets on Sunday after winning the first match 41-10. This time around, the Bills and the Jets will have different quarterbacks under center for the game. The anticipated matchup between Josh Allen and Sam Darnold was delayed due to both rookies dealing with injuries that forced them to miss multiple games. Now, the Bills host the very first in what should be a long line of contests between the two top-ten draft choices. Josh Allen is always going to be a key to the Bills’ success, but there are other players that need to make an impact, as well.
QB Josh Allen
Over the course of his short NFL career thus far, Allen has arguably played his best football over the past two games. His arm talent has been on full display, and we have seen him make throws that previous quarterbacks for the team wouldn’t even attempt. On top of that, he’s extending plays with his feet and keeping drives alive. For not having a bonafide weapon, Allen has been impressive with working with the pass-catchers he has. The Jets’ secondary, the safety duo in particular, is among the best in the NFL. While a Matt Barkley-led Bills team scored 41 points on the road a few weeks ago, New York’s defense isn’t one to take lightly.
RB LeSean McCoy
McCoy has had an uninspiring season carrying the football. Of course, some of that is due to struggles on the offensive line and the offense’s woes overall. The last game against the Jets, McCoy carried the ball 26 times for 113 yards and 2 touchdowns. All of those numbers represent season-high totals for a game. Taking the pressure off of Josh Allen is important at this point in his career, and it would be a luxury for McCoy to repeat his performance from a few weeks back.
WR Zay Jones
After Kelvin Benjamin’s release, Jones is officially Buffalo’s number one receiver. Although Benjamin didn’t do much but take up space on the field, opposing defenses could at least roll defenders towards him and his routes. Jones and Allen have started building a connection, and it showed last week when they connected for two touchdowns and a 2 point conversion. The second touchdown and subsequent two-point conversion gave the Bills the lead with 12 minutes to go in the contest. Jones has put his rookie season behind him and is starting to blossom into a legitimate weapon, leading the Bills in targets (69), receptions (41), receiving yards (459), and receiving touchdowns (4) in his second season in the NFL.
S Micah Hyde
In his 9 starts this season, Sam Darnold has thrown 14 interceptions, a total which leads the NFL. Among qualifying players, Darnold’s interception rate (4.8% of passes thrown) is second-worst in the league, with only Ryan Fitzpatrick worse (Allen, for the record, is sixth at 3.7%). Hyde has 2 picks on the season and should have some opportunities to create turnovers in the secondary. Both of his interceptions on the season have come in Buffalo’s past three games. Combining his coverage success with his prowess in the run game, Hyde has been a vital part of the Bills defense’s success. The Bills have given up just one pass play over 40 yards and 27 over 20; both totals are best in the NFL. Hyde and Jordan Poyer have done a great job this season limiting those big plays.
CB Tre’Davious White
White only has 1 interception on the season and a lot of that is due to opposing quarterbacks not throwing his way. This week, much like Hyde, the opportunity to create turnovers should be there with Sam Darnold starting for the Jets. This season, a lot like last, quarterbacks have struggled when targeting White in coverage. According to Pro Football Focus, White is fourth in the NFL in terms of passer rating against in coverage, with a passer rating of 63.3 when the ball is thrown in his direction. White could have one of the best games of the season against Darnold and the Jets.