The New York Jets surprised everyone when they won three straight games early in the season to claim a share of first place in the always tough AFC East. But New York has fallen back to earth in a hurry with three straight losses and are starting to look like the team everyone expected them to be before the season began.
The Buffalo Bills, meanwhile, despite a couple of mis-steps, have put together a pretty impressive resume so far and, with wins in their past two games, are only one-half game behind New England for the conference lead.
Things don’t get any easier for the Jets from here, as they play three of their final four games on the road and have a schedule that includes the Panthers, Chiefs, Broncos, Saints, Chargers and Patriots. Buffalo, meanwhile, still have two games remaining with the Patriots, but also get the Dolphins twice and travel to Indianapolis.
Tyrod Taylor has been the story of the Bills success so far this season. As Taylor goes, so goes the Bills. When he is hot, as he was last week against the Buccaneers when he completed 20 of 27 passes and recorded touchdowns both through the air and on the ground, the Bills win. But when he is cold, as he was against the Cincinnati Bengals when he completed 20 of 37 passes for 166 yard, one touchdown and one interception, Buffalo loses.
And the Bills are even more dangerous when LeSean McCoy gets on track, as he has been the last couple of weeks. McCoy got off to a hot start against these same Jets with 110 yards on 22 carries, then failed to go over 76 yards rushing in his next four games. Against the Buccaneers and Raiders, respectively, over the past two weeks, McCoy has gone off for 91 and 151 yards.
McCoy is also Taylor’s favorite target through the air with 38 receptions for 242 yards. Tight end Charles Clay, when healthy, has helped keep defenses honest with 20 catches for 258 yards and two touchdowns. But Buffalo’s receiving corps has struggled to make a difference so far this year, with Jordan Matthews’ 15 catches, 193 yards and one score leading the way. Andre Holmes only has 11 receptions, but three of those have gone for touchdowns.
Linebacker/defensive end Jerry Hughes has anchored the Bills’ front seven and has three sacks to his credit so far, But the real difference maker for Buffalo’s defense to date has been safety Micah Hyde, whose five interceptions has helped the Bills amass a league-leading turnover ratio of plus 14. Cornerback Tre’Davious White leads the NFL with 12 passes defensed.
Quarterback Josh McCown has been one of the bright spots for the Jets, and completed 26 of 33 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s loss to Atlanta. For the season, McCown has completed 70.5 percent of his passes for 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions and an overall rating of 95.3.
Robby Anderson leads New York’s receiving corps with 27 receptions for 435 yards and an average of 16.1 yards per catch. Anderson also has three touchdown receptions, the longest coming from 69 yards away against Miami in Week 3. Jermaine Kearse has caught 29 passes for 342 yards and four touchdowns, and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins has 31 receptions for 201 yards and three scores.
Bilal Powell has been a pleasant surprise for the Jets out of the backfield and is the leading rusher with 74 carries for 316 yards, an average of 4.3 yards per carry, and two touchdowns. Powell had a crazy 75-yard run for a touchdown in the Week 4 overtime loss to the Jaguars. Matt Forte has only 164 yards on 43 carries and Elijah McGuire has contributed 207 yards on 48 carries and has scored one touchdown.
Linebacker Demario Davis has recorded 67 total tackles and 2.5 sacks to lead the Jets defensively, and safeties Terrence Brooks and Marcus Maye each have two interceptions to their credit.
How to watch Bills at Jets
Date: Thursday, November 2nd, 2017
Time: 8:25 p.m. ET
Location: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
TV Channel: NFL Network and CBS
Radio: ESPN New York 98.7 Online Radio Stream. Westwood One Sports will air the game across the country. Ian Eagle (play-by-play) and Boomer Esiason (analyst) will call the action and Scott Graham will host pregame and halftime shows.
Announcers: Jim Nantz (play-by-play), Tony Romo (color analyst), Tracy Wolfson and Jay Feely (sideline reporters)
Odds: Bills: -3.5; over/under: 42 (Bovada)