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In-game win probability heavily favored Bills over Jets

Although it was tough to watch, the Bills never once trailed in the game, or in the ESPN Analytics metric

New York Jets v Buffalo Bills Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills have won four straight games after beating the New York Jets, 20-12, improving their record to 10-3. Buffalo is still the No. 1 seed in the AFC and now owns a two-game lead over their next opponent, the Miami Dolphins, in the AFC East.

Buffalo’s offensive struggles are still very much cause for concern at this point in the season. The Bills punted five straight times on their first five offensive possessions against the Jets. Still, as much as the offense has struggled to find its true identity, the Jets’ defense is very good, and it’s not a huge surprise they were able to force so many punts.

The game felt close at times due to the sheer amount of penalties and questionable play-calling, but using ESPN Analytics win probabilities, it was never close. Despite the slow start to the game, two-minute drills are still quarterback Josh Allen’s bread-and-butter, as he found tight end Dawson Knox for a 24-yard touchdown with under 30 seconds left in the first half.

Prior to Week 13 against the New England Patriots, the Bills were having trouble closing games out, and were allowing their opponents to get back into the game late in the fourth quarter. However, in back-to-back weeks, ESPN Analytics has completely favored Buffalo from the opening kickoff to the final whistle.

Let’s take a look at a few key moments that allowed the Bills to secure their second divisional win of the season, and why the metrics favored them so much.

2nd quarter, 0:26 remaining — BUF with a 83.6% win probability: After perhaps the most boring first half in the past few seasons, the Bills finally scored. It was classic Allen under two minutes, getting it done with his legs and finding tight windows on crucial downs. Allen found Knox for a 24-yard touchdown, with the tight end completing a near-full flip into the end zone.

3rd quarter, 9:59 remaining — BUF with a 66.5% win probability: This would be the third-lowest win probability percentage of the game for the Bills, following a Jets touchdown. The Jets clearly made halftime adjustments and exploited the Bills’ defense, capping off a 10-play, 72-yard drive ending in a rushing touchdown by running back Zonovan Knight. Buffalo’s defense would wake up after this drive, though, and started to put quarterback Mike White on the ground more often than not.

3rd quarter, 2:07 remaining — BUF with a 90.4% win probability: The Bills’ defense was flustering the Jets enough to keep the score manageable, and a field goal by kicker Tyler Bass furthered the lead to 17-7. Due to a forced fumble by safety Damar Hamlin, the Bills got prime field position to make the lead much larger — but per usual on the day, the offense stalled, and only added a second field goal.

4th quarter, 7:15 remaining — BUF with a 92.6% win probability: This was the moment Bills Mafia held their breath. The Bills have struggled to close games at times this season, and once the Jets blocked a Sam Martin punt for a safety, a collective “uh-oh” echoed from the fans. The offense couldn’t sustain a drive longer than two minutes, so the confidence in them to score if the game became a one-score game was not ideal. Nonetheless, the Jets made mistakes, particularly head coach Robert Saleh, and chose to kick a field goal early rather than going for the touchdown.

The game wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win. The Bills have finally shut down the narrative that they can’t win against physical teams or close out the closer games that shouldn’t have been close in the first place — and they're 10-3, atop the AFC and AFC East. Buffalo has won two straight divisional games with a chance to make it three when the Dolphins travel to the snow-filled Highmark Stadium next week.