The Buffalo Bills hope to continue to ride the momentum from their last-second win over Carolina into MetLife Stadium, where they face the New York Jets this Sunday. This will be the team's second divisional game and its first game on the road.
It is not easy to win in the NFL and much tougher on the road—especially for a young team like the Buffalo Bills.
Doug Marrone and the rest of the Bills' coaching staff will have their work cut out for them to build a sound game plan to get their first division win.
Offensively, the main goal is going to be to get the offense going early. Through the first two games, the Bills have only averaged 53.5 yards in the first quarter. From the second quarter onward, the Bills have averaged 102.5 yards per quarter.
Buffalo cannot afford to have another slow start against the Jets and allow them to take control of the game.
If Buffalo is able to get off to a fast start, it will also minimize the impact the crowd will have on the team and build EJ Manuel’s confidence. It is easy for a rookie quarterback to get rattled on the road and, a lot of times, that leads to forced plays and mistakes.
Manuel has not made many rookie mistakes through the first two games. After his game-winning drive against Carolina, it doesn't look like he is someone who is rattled easily.
This is a road game, though, and he will be playing in front of a hostile crowd.
It will be important for the coaching staff to get Manuel in the rhythm of getting the ball out quickly. Even though Carolina has a good defensive line, Manuel wasn’t pressured very much in Week 2.
The Jets defense is centered on getting pressure on the quarterback and calling a number of blitzes, so it will be important to put Manuel in a position where he can make quick, good decisions.
One area of the Jets defense that has looked very vulnerable through the first two games is whichever cornerback has been playing opposite Antonio Cromartie.
Dee Milliner was picked ninth overall in the 2013 draft and has had big shoes to fill in replacing Darrelle Revis. It has not been easy and he was even benched in the second half against the Patriots.
This would be a great game for T.J. Graham, who has been fairly quiet through the start of this season, to break out in. The second-year wide receiver has only had four targets and one reception through the first two weeks.
If he is matched up against Milliner or whoever starts for the Jets, he should be able to win that matchup with his speed and get behind the defense.
If Manuel and Graham are able to connect on these plays, it should stretch the defense and open up more running lanes for C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson.
Buffalo tried to do this against Carolina and Graham even got a step on the cornerback covering him on one occasion, but Manuel under-threw him.
On the other side of the ball, Buffalo will not have to change too much of the game plan it ran against Carolina. Geno Smith is a mobile quarterback like Cam Newton and Buffalo's defensive line will need to keep Smith in the pocket.
The Bills did a great job of limiting Newton's running lanes when rushing him, which was one of the reasons they were able to get six sacks.
The Jets, and more specifically Smith, have shown themselves to be turnover-prone through the first two weeks and this is one area Buffalo should try to capitalize on Sunday. Smith has had five turnovers (two fumbles, three interceptions) through the first two games.
If Mario Williams and the rest of the defense are able to limit Smith's time in the pocket, he may try to force the ball. It will be up to the Bills' secondary to take advantage of these opportunities.
Buffalo has struggled against the Jets over the past three years, going 1-6. These are games the team needs to win in hopes of changing the culture within the organization and the perceptions among fans.
If Buffalo is able to build an early lead, protect Manuel and hit some big plays, it will put pressure on Smith and the Jets offense. If the defense can force Smith into some turnovers, Buffalo should leave MetLife Stadium with its first road win.