The New York Jets defeated the Buffalo Bills in Week 1 of this season, winning 22-16 in a walk-off overtime victory thanks to a punt return touchdown. The Jets’ fortunes haven’t been what was expected entering the year, as they’ve struggled in the wake of quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ Achilles tendon tear — an injury the veteran quarterback suffered against Buffalo in that Week 1 game.
The Bills, however, are the team in turmoil, as they enter the game reeling. They’ve lost their last two contests, they fired offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey on Tuesday, and they’re at risk of losing three straight games for the first time since the final three contests — including the playoffs — of the 2019 season.
How can Buffalo win the game this week? For starters, they can stop committing turnovers, a feat that’s easier said than done against a stellar Jets defense. They’ll also need to limit New York’s top players.
Here are our five Jets to watch this week.
QB Zach Wilson
Wilson has been the quarterback who took most of the snaps in just three divisional games that the Jets have won in his career. One of them came last year against the Miami Dolphins when Skylar Thompson played quarterback. The other two have come against the Bills. Wilson is not a dangerous passer, as he too frequently makes poor reads that lead to bad throws or holding the ball for too long, thereby creating sacks for the defense. However, what he does have is good mobility and a strong arm, and if a team doesn’t come with a solid game plan and an aggressive, up-tempo mentality, he can cause some problems. If his defense creates turnovers and Wilson limits his own? Then the Jets have as good a shot as anyone to win games. The Jets have zero touchdowns in November, and Wilson has just five passing touchdowns in 306 attempts this year. The Bills need to come after him and make him continue to struggle. Mixing their coverages, bringing different pressures from all over the line, and making a concerted effort to stop the run will put Wilson in jeopardy on Sunday.
RB Breece Hall
Speaking of stopping the run, Hall is a dynamic runner who shredded Buffalo on opening night. He ran just 10 times, but he totaled 127 yards on those carries. He also added a 20-yard reception, as well. Nearly a quarter of his rushing yardage for the season came in the first game against the Bills, and nearly all of those 127 yards came on one 83-yard rush. He has the speed and explosiveness to run right by Buffalo’s first-level defenders, and he’s significantly faster than Buffalo’s defensive backs, as well. Stacking the box and giving Hall little room to run is going to be a big deal this week. Defensive tackle Linval Joseph will be important, as will Buffalo’s linebacker group.
WR Garrett Wilson
If Buffalo stacks the box to stop the run, that means Garrett Wilson may have a few more favorable matchups on the outside. Cornerback Christian Benford has been limited in practice this week, so it may be a second week of Rasul Douglas and Dane Jackson on the outside. Buffalo spends most of its time playing zone defense anyway, but even when the defense plays a zone, those players have to match up man to man eventually. Wilson made a circus catch against Buffalo in Week 1 to tie the game at 13, and he finished that contest with five grabs for 34 yards and that score. The Bills need to hold him to a similar line — preferably without the touchdown — in order to prevail this week. Watch for some bracket coverages and safety help slanting Wilson’s way all day.
DT Quinnen Williams
Man, this guy is good. The stats don’t do Williams justice, as he is the kind of defensive tackle that every defensive coach dreams of having. He’s quick enough to disrupt plays in the backfield, strong enough to eat blockers, gaps, and space while still making plays, and he’s smart enough to diagnose different blocking schemes at a moment’s glance. Buffalo’s offensive line has been excellent this season, but this is a tremendous test for them as the Jets have a second chance to plan against the Bills’ offense. One potential advantage for the Bills is the lack of tendencies for new play caller Joe Brady, the team’s interim offensive coordinator. His first order of business will be coming up with a plan to limit Williams.
LB Quincy Williams
The challenge with these articles and divisional games is that I sometimes end up repeating opponents. So, no disrespect to Sauce Gardner here, but I’m going to make this a family affair and watch Quinnen’s brother, Quincy, who is having an All-Pro caliber year of his own this season. It’s not often that someone who’s 5’11” and 225 pounds can be called the “smaller” brother, but that’s life when your big brother is an NFL defensive tackle. Quincy Williams is second on the Jets in tackles with 81, but first on the team in tackles for loss with 10. He’s added two sacks and a career-high six pass breakups, as well, which is also second on the Jets this season to safety Jordan Whitehead, who caught three Josh Allen passes in the first meeting. With a defense this good, there are plenty of Jets to watch on that side of the ball, but the Williams Brothers have been causing chaos for opponents all year long. The Bills need to account for them in their blocking scheme — and in the case of Quincy, in the passing scheme — in order to come up with a potentially season-salvaging win.