Usually I’d start things off by describing a particular player or facet of the opposing team. But this is a special week. How can a matchup with an 0-6 team be special? Well, the Buffalo Bills NEED this victory over the New York Jets.
It’s not just that the Jets are 0-6 and the potential embarrassment of being the first to fall to them. It’s not even because of the numerous signs of dysfunction in the Jets’ organization. This game is needed because the Bills can’t afford to get desperate.
A division game against an opponent that, on paper, is the next best thing to a bye week is one that will haunt you if you lose. On top of that, extending the losing streak to three games and decimating the buffer Buffalo has over the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots would...you get the idea.
For this special game let’s take a special approach. Let’s dive into the numbers to take a more bird’s-eye view of the Jets.
The Run Game
I’ve highlighted a few things here, but feel free to absorb these in their totality. These charts show the Jets’ rushing performances on both sides of the ball. For both offense and defense they provide a great quick reference to how many times plays occur in the directions noted above as well as the average gain. League ranks are provided for every item.
What’s highlighted above are what the Jets are good at. Toward the left end of the field the Jets are actually pretty good at running the ball, even if you sort team ranks by my rule of four. And runs off the left tackle aren’t too far behind. There’s relatively few tries to the left end, which means one or two fluke runs skew things, but the fact that two neighboring “zones” have high efficiency means there’s likely something to this.
They’re also good off the right guard, but the lack of efficiency in neighboring areas suggests this might be more prone to a fluke run making this a mirage. More importantly, four of the seven zones show signs of the Jets being pretty bad running the ball.
For run defense the right side might have serious issues with two second-to-last rankings in efficiency. The right tackle defense being in elite territory is a bit of an anomaly but there’s still likely ways to successfully run to the right side based on these numbers. Overall though, the Jets’ run defense is average to very good. If there’s a feather in their cap this season you may be looking at it.
The Passing Game
Here’s where the “on paper” stuff starts to reveal how bad the Jets have been this year. I’ve looked at a lot of these charts and it takes a special kind of bad to have that many rankings at 25th or worse in the league. And even the short middle of the field stuff I highlighted isn’t as impressive as it might look at first glance.
While it’s true that the Jets are the fourth-best team at completing passes over the short middle area of the field, it’s a near certainty that this inflates their average gain. Basically, the extra completions remove zeroes from the calculation. That’s not a bad thing for the Jets but what it means in totality is that there’s only one section of the field to rely on in the passing game and they’re not stretching the field though they’re successful at a higher rate than normal.
Passing defense is slightly better with one good zone defending the short middle and one average zone defending short right. Everything else though is in the bad category. I stated earlier that it takes a lot to be this consistently bad in these charts so let me prove it. If you’re reading this you’re almost certainly quite familiar with the Buffalo Bills, which means you probably don’t have a glowing opinion of our run defense. Let’s check the chart...
As bad as we all feel the run defense has been, it hasn’t been a catastrophe. Well the Kanas City Chiefs game was, but overall I mean. Like the Jets’ passing numbers, the Bills have one section of the field where they’ve actually done pretty well. Unlike the Jets’ passing numbers they only have two zones where they’re 25th or worse in the league. The Bills’ struggles are more spotty than what we see in the Jets’ passing charts.
How bad is it overall? Really, really bad. Their offense musters nearly 90 yards less than league average each game. That’s second worst in the league and 1.4 yards per game away from tying the worst. And there’s no explanation to save them like less time on the field as their 4.35 yards per play is 1.26 yards worse than average. That’s second-worst in the league and a mere 0.04 away from tying worst.
It’s pretty much the passing game to blame as their running efficiency comes out pretty average. That 4.74 yards per passing play is not only the worst in the league it’s over HALF A YARD worse than the runner up.
Points are the thing that matter most and they’re running away from the league but the wrong direction. That 12.5 points per game is over four points less than the 31st ranked New York Giants. That’s the widest gap between any two adjacent teams on the list.
Defensively, things are better but not good. They’re allowing “only” a third of a yard more than league average but that’s 24th in the league. Not quite bad, but low average. They’re 12th against the run on average and 29th against the pass. Points per game has them ranked 29th in the league.
The chart doesn’t contain this information but I feel like I need to share it anyway. Looking at their average point differential there’s an 18.3 point deficit between what they score and what they allow. Not only is that worst in the league it’s TWICE as bad as the Jacksonville Jaguars who take the 31 spot with a -9.3 differential.
At 4-2 there’s plenty of season left for the Buffalo Bills and desperation shouldn’t be a concern. It’s the way they’ve lost the last two, and the sharp dive by the defense this year that changes things. If Buffalo wants to show they belong, the Jets are the kind of bad that you just can’t lose to. Should the Bills fall this weekend the season isn’t over but it’s the kind of push that could steer things the wrong way.
Making matters worse, let’s briefly discuss matchups. What are the Jets OK at offensively? Running left end and right guard, and passing short middle. Shockingly the worst defense for the Bills are those short middle passes. Otherwise left end rushing defense is one of the things Buffalo shuts down best. On defense they’re alright shutting down the running game but abysmal against the pass. What have the Bills been better at? Passing and it’s not particularly close.
Buffalo has had struggles this year and if confidence is shaken a bit that’s understandable. At 4-2 perhaps the finger is over the panic button but nothing’s been pressed yet. Dropping this game might mean mashing that button like an eager game show contestant.