It feels almost like a season has past since the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets last faced off. It will, in fact, have been just shy of 11 weeks when the Jets take the field at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, NY. At this time, the Bills are 7-point home favorites in Week 11 with DraftKings Sportsbook. Despite Buffalo’s struggles, both on the season and continually against the Jets, Vegas still believes in the Bills.
The prior meeting between these two teams was a much grander affair — one that kicked off the 2023 NFL season’s slate of Monday Night Football games. At that point, Aaron Rodgers was set to begin his tenure guiding Gang Green back to greatness. And then, four plays into his first regular-season game with the Jets, Rodgers’ season appeared over due to a catastrophic Achilles injury. Since that point, Rodgers continues to remain in the team’s headlines, on a trajectory to return to the QB1 role sometime in December. That’s nothing short of incredible when most players are lucky to return to play the following season or at best during training camp. If nothing else, Rodgers deserves the benefit of doubt due to his NFL resume.
But it’s worth questioning the merits to his potential return this season, especially if the Jets find themselves unable to stack wins toward a run to the playoffs and beyond. With his desire to return so quickly, it’s fair to wonder if he sees this as his final shot, foregoing a return for the 2024 NFL season regardless of outcome.
But the Jets are 4-5, held together decently well due to a fantastic defense. Their continued dominance of the Bills played out dramatically in Week 1, where Josh Allen and the offense were forced into four turnovers. Yet, Allen and the team were able to force overtime with designs on escaping victorious. Of course, Buffalo’s special teams let them down in allowing a walk-off punt return. From there, the Bills managed to string together a three-game winning streak that re-ignited talk of their being a powerhouse in the NFL, while the Jets began to struggle winning without Rodgers. Then, a little more than a month into the season, Buffalo began to falter while the Jets began to find their footing. But the common theme between both squads has been that of an up-and-down season. And significant injuries.
But entering Week 11, there’s far more to question than feel confident about with both the Bills and Jets. For Gang Green, that comes in the form of an offense that’s struggling to produce much of anything during meaningful moments of games. Suddenly, Jets players are having players meetings, raising questions about what’s happening within the locker room. Sound familiar? It should given the Buffalo Bills’ struggles on offense of late, and with the offense also holding its own players-only meeting.
As was the case in Week 1, the Bills have struggled to maintain possession of the football, with fumbles and interceptions sometimes coming in bunches. In their Week 10 Monday Night Football loss to the Denver Broncos, Buffalo once again lost the football four times. Another primetime MNF game, four more turnovers, and once again, a chance to win at the end. Until yet again, the Bills’ special teams unit failed to hold up their end of the deal. Instead of a walk-off punt return, it was a 12-men-on-the-field penalty that wiped out a missed game-winning field goal by Denver. Moving closer by five yards, the Broncos struggling kick team made good on its mulligan, sending the Bills to .500 on the season.
The immediate aftermath of falling to 5-5 (with each loss coming against an AFC team) culminated with now-former offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey losing his job, even if it’s clear to most that Dorsey, alone, isn’t responsible for all that ills the Bills.
Now, Joe Brady will serve at the team’s interim offensive coordinator, having previously served as quarterbacks coach beginning with the 2022 NFL season. To say the Jets present a formidable first challenge is a massive understatement. But it’s not the first time Brady will call plays as an OC, having held that position for a brief time with the Carolina Panthers. But things didn’t go well and he didn’t last the entire season.
At this time, all anyone focused on One Bills Drive can talk about is a perceived lack of confidence and energy, with an offense stuck in a rut that ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky has described as schematically broken. But Orlovsky remains confident that the team has time to course-correct, if they commit to more play-action looks and pre-snap motion. But that doesn’t take into account the concerning rate at which Buffalo’s offense continues to turn the ball over.
During the team’s Thursday media availability, more than one reporter decided to test the waters with wide receiver Stefon Diggs. First it was to ask his thoughts about what his brother, cornerback Trevon Diggs posted on social media about both his status with the team and stating that quarterback Josh Allen didn’t find success until Stefon came to town. That, understandably didn’t sit well with Diggs, who asked the reporter directly to “(T)read lightly when you’re talking about my family, again.” Another reporter decided it was the perfect time to re-visit the drama from earlier in 2023, and wondered what Diggs’ commitment level was to the team now and in the future. It didn’t go well for the reporter. One can hope that the rest of the NFL feels that wrath, with Diggs playing out of his mind to silence anyone who believes it’s wise to question his dedication to the Buffalo Bills.
But yes, it’s complicated with the Buffalo Bills right now. A win in Week 11 against their AFC East rivals would go a long way in restoring confidence from within and outside the organization. It won’t come easy against the New York Jets. What felt like a crossroads last Monday night has turned into a near-veritable playoff-game scenario from here on out. No matter what, Buffalo’s offense must find a way to limit turnovers and play sound, fundamental football. Are the Bills up to the challenge? We’ll begin to find out on Sunday.