The New York Jets hosted the Buffalo Bills in Week 9, and they came away with a huge upset win at MetLife Stadium. Buffalo left New Jersey battered and bruised, and after quarterback Josh Allen injured his elbow in the fourth quarter, there was a sense of dread permeating Buffalo’s fanbase. However, since that time, the two squads have gone in opposite directions.
Buffalo dropped a wild game to the Minnesota Vikings before rattling off three straight victories. They now sit at 9-3, the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The Jets, meanwhile, lost a heartbreaker to the New England Patriots, benched starting quarterback Zach Wilson, beat the Chicago Bears, and lost another heartbreaker to the same Vikings who defeated Buffalo a few weeks ago. New York is 7-5 and clinging to the seventh seed in the AFC playoffs.
This week’s matchup is a tremendous game for both teams, and Buffalo needs to do a much better job containing New York’s top players if they want to flip the result from last time. Here are our five Jets to watch this week.
QB Mike White
The Legend of Mike White continues, and while it may have taken a hit last week when the Jets were unable to pull out a come-from-behind victory, it’s not as if White played poorly. He completed 54% of his passes for 369 yards last week, and he had the Jets in position to win in the fourth quarter. He hit wideout Braxton Berrios right in the gut with a perfect pass on 4th & Goal, but Berrios couldn’t hang on. After the Jets’ defense forced a punt, White threw a game-ending interception, his second of the day, to end the rally. Last year, when White started against Buffalo, the Bills’ defense proved too tough for White, as he threw four interceptions on 44 attempts. I expect a better effort out of White this week, as his weapons are a bit better this time around. Buffalo will be able to mix and match coverages on him, though, and that should make for a positive outcome for the Bills.
RB Zonovan Knight
The speedy halfback could cause Buffalo problems, especially around the edge, if they don’t do a better job attacking off the corners than they did last time these teams met. Knight has 221 scrimmage yards on 37 touches over the last two games, and he’s been especially explosive as a runner. He has long runs of 19 and 48 over the last two weeks, and he’s gained 159 yards on the ground over just 29 carries. Buffalo allowed the Jets to rush for 174 yards on 34 carries last time out, but Knight did not play in the game. He’s someone the Bills will need to account for early, and they’ll need to keep him from breaking a big play that can give the Jets life on the offensive end. The corners are going to be vital parts of ensuring that the Jets can’t run wild along the sidelines this week.
WR Garrett Wilson
Speaking of the corners being extremely important, Wilson was a menace last time these two faced off, catching eight passes for 92 yards in the game. Two things are different this time, though: first, Zach Wilson isn’t playing, which could actually be a benefit. Second, Tre’Davious White is playing for Buffalo, which should make Wilson’s life much harder than when he was guarded by a combination of Kaiir Elam and Dane Jackson. Last week, the Patriots tried to attack White as a tackler, running outside plays his way. That didn’t work very well, but I expect that the Jets will do similar things this week in an attempt to test White’s physicality. Wilson is a big, strong wideout, so this will be a good test for Tre as he continues to work his way back from that ACL tear he suffered last year. He played nearly two-thirds of Buffalo’s snaps last week, and he’ll be a vital part of limiting the damage Wilson can do in this one.
DL John Franklin-Meyers
Last time out, the Jets sacked Josh Allen five times. Franklin-Meyers did not register a sack, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. The big defensive lineman had two pressures and two quarterback knockdowns in the game, both of which led the Jets. If left tackle Dion Dawkins is unable to play, then it will be David Quessenberry, who’s dealing with an ankle injury of his own, who will try to battle through the game. If Quessenberry can’t go, either? Well, it might be Justin Murray out there, as the former Arizona Cardinals lineman played one snap in relief of Quessenberry last Thursday night. It could even be Bobby Hart. Franklin-Meyers is another strong player on an excellent defense.
CB D.J. Reed
Rookie Sauce Gardner is a little obvious, and let’s face it, Buffalo probably doesn’t want to go after him too much. That means that whichever wideout is covered by Reed is going to have to find space quickly in order to help Allen avoid a strong Jets pass rush. Gabe Davis is the likely mark across from Reed, and while he’s had an up-and-down season, it would be a nice week for him to have an “up” game against a good opponent. Reed has eight pass breakups and an interception to go with his 59 tackles this season. If Buffalo can beat him, it will force some different looks on defense, and it will open up other areas of the field, as well. If Reed is able to dominate Buffalo’s WR2, then they’ll be forced to look underneath and in the middle, which is exactly what the Jets want them to do.