Buffalo Bills vs. New York Jets: 10 Keys to New York State Grudge Match
Round 2 of the New York Jets/Buffalo Bills battle comes Sunday.
The last time these two teams met was in Week 9 when the Bills were in first place in the AFC East while the Jets were looking to save their season.
Since then, both teams have dropped their next two games.
The Jets dominated the Bills in the last meeting, limiting Fred Jackson, the league's third leading rusher, to 82 yards. They also intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick twice on the way to a 27-11 victory.
This time around, the Jets will not have to face Fred Jackson, who is out for the season with a broken leg.
The Jets will have to deal with a Bills team looking for revenge—a team fighting, just like New York, for their playoff lives.
While Jackson is no longer a key to this New York grudge match, the following are.
Jets Need to Stop the Bills Running Game
With Fred Jackson out, Bills 2009 first-round draft pick, C.J. Spiller, will get his chance as the featured running back.
Coming out of Clemson, Spiller was highly regarded and was supposed to come in and produce immediately; he didn't.
Jackson beat him out, taking the bulk of the carries, leaving Spiller with little to nothing to showcase his talents.
In fact, Jackson has accounted for 40 percent of the Bills offense this season.
The Jets need to stop whoever is in Buffalo's backfield. Their rush offense ranks eighth in the league and should not drop off too much with Spiller filling in for Jackson.
Bills Needs to Run Without Jackson
After the Bills received the horrible news that their main offensive weapon, Fred Jackson, was out for the season, they went out and got former Dallas Cowboys' RB Tashard Choice as insurance if something happens to C.J. Spiller.
With Spiller only getting 21 rushing attempts on the season and just a total of 95 attempts in his entire career so far, he should have fresh legs and a healthy body to produce in the last six games of the season.
This is Spiller's chance to show what he can do, so he should be extra motivated.
The Bills need to have a productive rushing attack or it will be a long day for Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Darrelle Revis Must Shut Down Steve Johnson
The last time Revis was left to cover Steve Johnson, Johnson had three catches for 84 yards.
On one play, Revis got burned for 52 yards. This is abnormal for receivers opposite Revis.
Don't think he forgot about what happened last time for a second. He will come back looking to shut him down.
This would be great news for the Jets, since Johnson, in the absence of Jackson, is the Bills' top offensive weapon.
Steve Johnson Has to Make an Impact
In his last two games, Steve Johnson had a total of four catches for just 24 yards. With Johnson's lack of production, the Bills lost both matchups.
Buffalo needs Johnson to make an impact if they want to win. In four of the Bills' five wins, Johnson has at least 50 receiving yards or a TD.
Johnson is Fitzpatrick's favorite target by far and in the games where they do not connect, the Bills offense is off.
Jets Have to Limit Fitzpatrick
The Jets have the blueprint to limit Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick; they can just look at the game tape from the last time they faced him.
While they did not sack him, they did have five QB hits on him.
The Jets defense also had two interceptions and held Fitzpatrick to 50 percent passing, allowing him only one late TD drive with a little over three minutes left in the game.
Before Fitzpatrick played the Jets, his lowest QB rating was 75.5. Against the Jets, his QB rating was 51.9. In the following two games, his rating dropped even lower 46.6 and 45.8.
He's bound to turn it around sometime, New York just has to make sure it's not against them.
Fitzpatrick Has to Return to Early Season Form
Ryan Fitzpatrick's start to the season was superb. He led the Bills to a 5-2 record while putting up quality QB stats.
In his first seven games, Fitzpatrick had two games with a QB rating over 100, two in the 90s, two in the 80s and one game with a 75.5 rating.
The drop-off came against the Jets; his bad play coincided with a three-game losing streak.
If Buffalo wins, they win because of Fitzpatrick. The Bills defense or running game is not good enough to win a game on their own.
Mark Sanchez Has to Play Turnover-Free
Mark Sanchez is at his best when he manages the game and takes care of the ball.
He has to play conservatively and trust in the running game. The Bills have been allowing 122 rushing yards per game and should be able to take advantage of this.
Against the pass, the Bills rank 24th in the league. Sanchez should have his chance but he cannot force anything.
In his last two games—both losses—he threw three interceptions and two were returned for TDs.
If Sanchez plays turnover-free, the Jets should win this game.
Bills Need to Force Turnovers
While the Bills defense does not rank so well against the run or pass, it is very opportunistic.
Buffalo ranks second in the league with 15 interceptions, three returned for TDs.
Sanchez throwing two interceptions that were returned for TDs in back-to-back games does not bode well for the Jets.
If the Bills defense is able to force turnovers, the Jets will be in trouble.
Jets Need to Watch out for Scott Chandler
The Jets have had their problems with tight ends.
Rob Gronkowski torched them two weeks ago with eight catches for 113 yards and two TDs.
The Jets even had trouble with an out-of-shape Antonio Gates in Week 7, when he had five catches for 54 yards and a TD.
The problem is that the Jets linebackers or safeties just can't handle decent tight ends. They are either too slow or too small.
Chandler can be a huge threat in Buffalo's passing game if Fitzpatrick can find him.
Antonio Cromartie vs. David Nelson
David Nelson, the 6'5" Bills wide receiver, has become Fitzpatrick's second favorite target.
This should worry the Jets.
While Revis is busy taking care of Johnson, Cromartie is most likely going to be assigned Nelson.
Cromartie is not the greatest cover corner and Nelson will be a handful for him.
In his last game against the Jets, Nelson scored the lone Bills TD.
Nelson has caught two TDs in his last three games.
You can expect a lot of pass interference calls against Cromartie if Fitzpatrick is smart enough to make Nelson his No. 1 option.