EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — The Bills are banged up as they get ready to take on the New York Jets this afternoon at 1 p.m. at MetLife Stadium. Four Bills starters are OUT, while three more are questionable, which suddenly turns what was previously viewed as a walk-over for Buffalo into a potential trap game.
As the Bills’ injuries continue to pile up, the Jets have gotten a bit healthier over the past week. Quarterback Sam Darnold is set to return to action after missing the past two weeks with a shoulder injury. New York will also see rookie wide receiver Denzel Mims take the field for the first time after he missed his team’s first six games with a hamstring injury. With that said, top-receiver Jamison Crowder is listed as doubtful and is not expected to play due to a groin injury.
Many Bills fans have expressed concern over this game, but in the end, it’s the Jets. The Bills will be fine...right?
FAST START FOR ALLEN, PASSING GAME
In the Bills’ consecutive losses, the offense, namely the passing game, got off to horrendous starts.
Against the Titans, the Bills’ first drive ended in just three plays with a Josh Allen interception, which came after two consecutive run plays. Against the Chiefs, Buffalo came out throwing the ball but didn’t fare any better, as the Bills’ first drive ended in a three and out following three straight incompletions.
This afternoon against a hapless Jets team, it will be increasingly crucial for Buffalo to start fast, especially in the passing game. When playing a lesser team, it’s important to take that team’s will to win as quickly as possible. In other words, you cannot let a team like the Jets hang around.
The Bills need to leave no doubt this week, and it starts on the first drive of the game, where they have had trouble as of late.
IGNITE THE RUNNING GAME
While Devin Singletary has struggled to build off a successful rookie season, the Bills’ new rookie running back, Zack Moss, hasn’t lived up to what was for many, high expectations. Moss was a back that many believed possessed the physical traits to come in and produce right away, which he has failed to do. Not only that, Moss has had trouble staying on the field.
When he has been on the field, Moss has left plenty to be desired. The rookie RB is averaging a slim 2.6 yards per carry through three games and hasn’t looked anywhere near NFL ready.
With all that said, today could be the day that the Bills’ running game gets back on track. The Jets’ defense is ranked 21st in the league against the run, allowing 105.3 rushing yards per game.
DISCIPLINED, EFFECTIVE PASS RUSH
Too often during the Bills’ two consecutive losses, the Bills’ pass rush allowed opposing quarterbacks Ryan Tannehill and Patrick Mahomes to break contain and pick up big yardage using their legs, many times on third down. Darnold is more than capable of doing the same, and the Bills must remain disciplined in their pass rush and must do a much better job of setting the edge this week.
Darnold can beat you with his legs and is also very good at extending the play outside the pocket. Perhaps no greater example of this was his incredible touchdown pass to WR Braxton Berrios against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 3.
MAKE A BIG KICK
It’s time to see Tyler Bass turn into the player the Bills drafted him to be. Thus far, the Bills’ rookie kicker has been underwhelming. Bass has made six of nine kicks through six games, which is tied for 30th in the NFL in field goal percentage (66.7%). A kicker known for his big leg, Bass has yet to make a field goal of 50+ yards, failing on his only attempt, a 52-yarder at the end of the first half against the Chiefs, which missed wildly to the right. His other two missed field goals came from 34 and 38 yards during the Bills’ Week 1 win over the Jets. He’s also missed one extra point this season, which came during Buffalo’s Week 4 win over the Las Vegas Raiders.
Many celebrated when Bass won the preseason position battle over kicker Stephen Hauschka, who had fallen out of favor with Bills fans. With that said, Bass hasn’t done anything to inspire confidence since he took over as the team’s starter.
Typically, the phrase “a win is a win” rings true. This week is the exception, however.
With Buffalo coming off two straight losses in which they haven’t played their best football, it’s essential not only to win this week, but look good doing it. It’s safe to believe even a C+ performance from the Bills this afternoon would be enough to move past the pathetic Jets. But for them to restore their position as one of the upper echelon teams in the AFC, they need a strong, convincing victory this afternoon.
Through four weeks, the Bills had everyone believing. The past two weeks have thrown a monkey wrench into things, and Buffalo needs an all-around dominant win to get things back on track.