The Buffalo Bills take on the New York Jets this week, and both teams are coming off of opposite results in Week 8. For the Jets, a 22-17 loss to the New England Patriots ended a four-game winning streak. For the Bills, a 27-17 victory over the Green Bay Packers extended their win streak to four games.
Buffalo, though, very well should have won that game with a larger margin of victory. If not for two boneheaded fourth-quarter turnovers, we might have been talking about a very different score. Instead, we’re discussing a win that looked better than the score would indicate, and it was better—until it wasn’t.
If the Bills are going to emerge from MetLife Stadium with a victory this week, they’ll need to play a clean game on offense against one of the league’s tougher defenses. Here are our five players to watch in Week 9.
QB Josh Allen
Sure, I’m nitpicking here, but I think Allen has reached the rarified air of being a player from whom we expect greatness. With that in mind, it’s important to me that he immediatly move on from the worst quarter of his 2022 season. It’s not going to be a walk in the park, as the Jets have the No. 6 defense in football in terms of yards allowed, and the No. 10 unit against the pass.
Green Bay held Allen to just 218 passing yards last week to go with a 52% completion rate and two interceptions. In what has been an MVP-caliber year thus far, it was a reminder that even the best have off moments. I think it was more a product of Allen being so confident in himself, and so fed up with cornerback Jaire Alexander trash talking all night, that he was trying to run up the score by throwing Alexander’s way. That plan didn’t work so well, and hopefully, Allen learns the lesson that he needs to control himself and continue to take what the defense gives him. There’s sure to be some heated moments between cornerback Sauce Gardner and Buffalo’s wideouts, so keeping composed will be an essential part of winning the game.
RB Nyheim Hines
He might not play much, but I’m interested to see what kind of impact the speedy receiving back has on Buffalo’s offense and special teams this week. If Hines sees action on 10 offensive snaps and he can gain some yards on a screen, I’ll be thrilled. I also assume that he’ll be either the primary punt returner or kick returner, and perhaps both. While he isn’t going to be the lead running back (that’s still Devin Singletary without question), and rookie James Cook still needs to play, Hines adds another element to the offense that Zack Moss just didn’t give them. Offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey will probably work him in slowly, but I’m still interested to see what Hines brings to the team.
C Mitch Morse
The Jets’ two best front-seven players are middle men, as defensive lineman Quinnen Williams lines up at defensive tackle more often than not, and linebacker C.J. Mosley plays the Tremaine Edmunds role in New York’s defense. Morse has been hampered by a lingering elbow injury, and he’ll be tested by the studs in front of him. Buffalo may need to use Rodger Saffold and Ryan Bates to help, especially if Morse’s strength is compromised at all thanks to the elbow issue. If he misses time, it will be former Jet Greg Van Roten at center, and that’s a pretty steep dropoff for Buffalo.
CB Kaiir Elam
Will he hang with fellow rookie wide receiver Garrett Wilson? Buffalo probably won’t have their first-round rookie shadow New York’s, but there’s a distinct possibility that the two rookies will battle on multiple snaps. Elam has the size, strength, and athleticism to give Wilson problems, but he can be a little too handsy at times in his coverage. Wilson is sudden in his breaks and he possesses great speed, so New York probably won’t hesitate to attack the athletic corner. Look for a double-move or two off of play action, especially early in the game, to keep Elam honest.
Special mention goes to cornerback Tre’Davious White here, who is on the active roster for the first time after tearing his ACL last Thanksgiving. I don’t think White will play in the game, though, hence watching Elam instead.
S Jordan Poyer
Speaking of All-Pro players who might not play, Poyer hurt his elbow last week and he missed most of the fourth quarter. With Damar Hamlin already filling for Micah Hyde, who is out for the year with a herniated disk in his neck, the Bills looked perilously thin at safety once again. Poyer’s status may have been the impetus for general manager Brandon Beane to trade a seventh-round draft choice to the Atlanta Falcons for old friend Dean Marlowe, who played with the Bills from 2017-2020. If Poyer can’t go, we’ll have our eyes on Marlowe; however, we’re hoping that Poyer is just fine this week. Having him on the field will make life extremely difficult for quarterback Zach Wilson.