New York Jets (-3, 42.5 o/u) at Buffalo Bills
How many times this year do we have to read about Rex Ryan and his former team? At least once more. Sorry about that.
The former New York Jets bench boss has the chance to rain on the team’s parade this weekend. Should the Pittsburgh Steelers win (they’re playing Cleveland), Ryan and his Buffalo Bills (7-8, 4-3 home) can end the Jets’ (10-5, 4-3 road) magical run to the playoffs with a win of their own.
Let’s lay this out. Currently the Jets are in the postseason, holding a one-game lead over Pittsburgh in the AFC Wild Card race. However, if the Jets and Steelers end up with the same record, Pittsburgh will win the tiebreaker, and the run would be done for the J-E-T-S.
Alright you following? Perfect. Now let’s take a look at why the Jets will win and why the Jets will lose.
New York should have this game in the bag for a number of reasons. First, the Bills love taking penalties and giving up free yardage in the process. They love it more than Rex Ryan loves sweater vests! The Bills have tallied 139 penalties this year (most in the NFL) for a total of 1,204 yards. That’s 74 more yards than the next closest team (Tampa Bay – 1,130 yds).
If it’s not the laundry on the field that will lose the game for the Bills, though, it’s LeSean McCoy’s MCL. The Bills may sit “Shady” due to another set back with his nagging knee. It’s been on the fritz again and the team now has nothing to play for. Meanwhile, he’s under contract until 2019. You do the math.
The Bills have played well with backup Karlos Williams, and Mike Gillislee has been decent in spot duty the past couple weeks. But they’re just not the same squad without their two-headed backfield monster, though.
The other reason the Jets can pull this off, aside from their playoff aspirations, is that Buffalo’s defense has been brutal as of late. They are 20th in the league in total yards, giving up 360 yards per game (252.9 of which are through the air). Combine that with the fact that their defensive set has lost three key starters to injured reserve (DT Kyle Williams, CB Stephon Gilmore, SS Aaron Williams) and the struggles are apt to continue.
This is why New York is favored by -3 points heading into enemy territory.
The Jets are fully capable of losing this contest as well, though. I know I’ve shattered new ground by saying they could win or lose this game, but it’s kind of a coin toss when you take out the playoff implications.
The Bills are 4-3 at home and are 3-2 against divisional opponents this season. One of those AFC East wins was a 27-22 victory at the Meadowlands over the Jets on November 12.
In the end, it’s going to come down to New York QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. If he can stay consistent and on-target, the Jets can win this game. Another snoozer of a performance, like he put up in the Jets’ last meeting with Buffalo, and the Steelers may owe Buffalo big time.
Pick: Jets (-3).
(Image: public domain.)