New York Jets vs. Buffalo Bills: 5 Keys to a Jets Victory

Louis Musto@LouisMustoContributor IIINovember 3, 2011

New York Jets vs. Buffalo Bills: 5 Keys to a Jets Victory

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    When the New York Jets enter Ralph Wilson Stadium Sunday, it will be the first time since 2004 that the Buffalo Bills are competing with a decent opportunity to earn their first postseason appearance in more than a decade.

    The Jets roll into Buffalo with a two-game winning streak and a rejuvenated unit following the bye. The Bills enter the game with a big victory over the Washington Redskins after a slight bump in the night with the Jets’ roommates, the New York Giants.

    The Bills have not beaten the Jets since a 16-13 victory in Week 6 of 2009 at the Old Giants Stadium. Since then, the Bills have been outscored 95-34 in three meetings with the Jets, including a 38-7 thrashing in Week 17 of 2010 that showcased a four-interception day for the Jets' defense.

    But this season boasts a much different Bills team than years' before. With skilled players like Fred Jackson and Stevie Johnson on offense, and George Wilson and Jairus Byrd on defense, the Bills can post big numbers on the scoreboard and suffocate opposing offenses all day.

    A victory here for the Bills makes a statement about their future in the AFC.

    A victory for the Jets puts them right in the thick of the AFC East division race and a three-game winning streak heading into another classic battle with the New England Patriots.

    If the Jets wish to leave Buffalo victorious, there are some vital keys that must factor into their game Sunday.

Stop the Run

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    The Buffalo Bills’ Fred Jackson is one of the best up-and-coming rushers in the league. For that reason, the Jets are going to need to contain him from the start to keep the Bills from running away with this Week 9 matchup.

    The Jets run defense has not been its usual self, something not often seen with Rex Ryan’s defensive system. The Jets come into this game ranked 25th in rushing yards allowed and third in rushing touchdowns allowed through seven games.

    The Bills are fifth in the NFL in rushing yards with 140.6 yards per game, touting the third best rusher in the league, Fred Jackson—he is second in rushing yards per game with 103. After a breakout year in 2010, Jackson has returned with a chip on his shoulder and he’s shouldered the load to help the Bills to their lead in the AFC East over the New England Patriots and the Jets.

    The Jets are fully capable of playing against the run having finished third in the NFL in run defense in 2010 and eight in 2009 under Rex Ryan. They will need to channel the Jets run defense of old for this game or prepare for a long day on Fred Jackson’s tail.

Control the Clock

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    The Bills are a team that can light up the scoreboard. The only way to stop that is to keep the football out of their hands and control the clock.

    Buffalo is third in the NFL, averaging 30.1 points per game. Fred Jackson and fifth-ranked rushing game rack up serious yardage and pummel their opponents each week.

    The Jets will need to limit the amount of time the Bills have possession of the football in order to give them as few opportunities as possible to post the big points and yardage numbers they have posted through seven games this season.

    If the Jets can control the clock and keep the ball out of the hands of the Bills playmakers—specifically Fred Jackson—the Jets could have themselves a very successful afternoon in Orchard Park.

Run the Football Successfully

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    The New York Jets have not been very good running the football. If they wish to accomplish what the previous slide had mentioned, they’re going to need to run the football successfully.

    This means the offensive line firing off the line and opening up those holes for running backs Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson to run through as well as Greene and Tomlinson making dramatic changes to the poor performance they have both posted this season.

    The Bills are an ideal team for the Jets to turn the struggling rushing attack around. They are the 13th-worst team in the NFL in rushing yards allowed with 120 yards per game and have given up eight rushing touchdowns this season—most notable is the three they surrendered to New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw.

    The Jets rushing attack is very similar to the New York Giants and could spell catastrophe for the Bills if Greene and Tomlinson show up to play.

Mark Sanchez

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    Mark Sanchez does not to be anything special for the Jets to get the job done on Sunday against the Bills—he just needs to be good enough.

    Sanchez struggled during the first half of this season, but he enters Week 9 with optimism for continued progress from himself as well as the New York Jets.

    Sanchez has a tough test before him though with the Buffalo Bills—the NFL’s best team in takeaways.

    Despite inconsistencies in the accuracy department, Sanchez has done a good job at avoiding costly turnovers. After throwing five interceptions in the first four games of the season, Sanchez has thrown just one in the last three games for the Jets.

    Sanchez must continue to play mistake-free football this Sunday in football because any mistake could result in defeat for the Jets.

    The Bills are a dangerous, turnover magnet. The Jets will need to limit the opportunities Sanchez gets to force tough passes or find himself under heavy pressure from the Bills’ pass rush. Their success will come using Sanchez in the short passing game over the middle to guys like tight end Dustin Keller and Santonio Holmes to offset the ground attack.

Force Fitzpatrick into Turnovers

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    The biggest key to victory for the New York Jets is forcing Ryan Fitzpatrick to turn the ball over.

    Fitzpatrick has played spectacularly this season for the Bills. He has been able to play efficiently, making very few mistakes—he has an impressive passer rating of 97.8.

    When Fitzpatrick does make a mistake, though, it's costly.

    The Jets are very good at turning costly mistakes into points on the scoreboard.

    In a game that could prove to be one of the best matchups yet this season, the turnover game is going to decide who walks out of Ralph Wilson Stadium as the victor.

    The Jets' Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie will be on their toes for this game, blanketing Fitzpatrick's receivers and searching for any open opportunity to pick off the Harvard graduate. If the Jets can bring the pressure, it's fair to assume Revis is coming away with a pass that gets forced in there to a covered receiver.

    Through seven games, Revis has allowed just 10 receptions to the receivers he is covering. Quarterbacks have a passer rating of just 2.9, according to Revis has picked off opposing quarterbacks four times—good enough for third in the NFL.