After defeating the Patriots in an overtime thriller and the Steelers’ surprising loss to Baltimore, the Jets’ playoff picture became much simpler; win and we are in. The only thing stopping the Jets from getting the wild card is ex-head coach Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills. The Bills have been a middle of the road team capable of beating anyone and capable of losing to anyone; a characteristic common of Rex Ryan coached teams. The last time these teams met was in MetLife stadium where the Bills won 22-17, which was a fluky game for the Jets. The Jets had a turnover margin of -4 and Ryan Fitzpatrick completed only 44% of his passes on a measly 5.7 yards/attempt. Despite this, the Bills only won by 5 points. This time, the Bills are at home and defeating the pesky division rival will be no easy task. However, the Jets have won 5 straight and look like a completely different team from the last Buffalo game. While the Bills shouldn’t be disregarded, they are still a beatable team. Some keys to the game are as follows:
Ryan Fitzpatrick- As stated previously the last game these teams played Ryan Fitzpatrick had an extremely subpar performance. However, Fitzpatrick has been on a tear recently throwing for 13 TDs and only 1 INT over his past 5 games. Additionally, Fitz will likely break the Jets’ franchise TD record of 29 held by Vinny Testaverde and needs 284 yards to break Joe Namath’s passing yardage record. It is safe to say that Fitzpatrick has turned his play around since the last Buffalo game and is having one of the best seasons for a Jets QB ever. Furthermore, the Bills are ranked 23rd in passing yards allowed/game, setting Fitzpatrick up for another solid passing day.
Turnover Margin- Turnover margin is crucial in the NFL and the Jets are no exception to this. When the Jets win or are even in the TO margin they are 9-0 this season. The last time the Bills and Jets played, the Bills were +4 in turnovers, but this is a bit of an anomaly. On the season the Jets rank +8 in TOs, which is 5th in the league while the Bills are tied for 10th in the league at +4. Based on these season trends, the odds of the Bills winning the TO margin by such a large amount again are slim. If the Jets can be even or positive in turnovers they stand a very good chance of winning.
Closing Thoughts: The last time the Bills and the Jets played the Bills won by a close margin. However, the Jets were -4 in turnovers and Fitzpatrick had one of his worst games of the season. Recently, the Jets are on a 5 game winning streak and Fitzpatrick has been a huge part of that. With improved QB play and an improved TO margin the Jets should win this game 24-14 on the road and enter the playoffs on a six game winning streak.