Week 3 Primer: Bills vs. Jets
Week 3: Buffalo Bills @ New York Jets
The Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets will match up this Sunday in the Meadowlands in what will be the first of likely many matchups between the first two QBs taken in the 2013 NFL draft, E.J. Manuel and Geno Smith. There are many other storylines to watch for in this game as well. Bills DC Mike Pettine will be going up against his mentor, Jets HC Rex Ryan, for the first time since he left the Jets after last season. Most importantly though, whoever wins this game will be 2-1 and will have clinched at least a .500 record through the first month of the season.
I'd expect a low-scoring game similar to the Jets' game against the New England Patriots last Thursday. Both teams have strong front sevens on defense, and with the rookie QBs out there, both teams will try and force them into mistakes. The key to the game will be both QBs going out there and trying to limit those mistakes. By the early numbers, it would seem like Manuel has the edge as he's committed less turnovers and been sacked less than Smith, but this will probably be the toughest front that he has faced all year. The Bills have much better receivers than the Patriots though, so it will be interesting to see how Antonio Cromartie and the rest of the Jets' secondary handle receivers who can catch the ball and run the right routes after struggling a bit last week.
The game is in New Jersey, which should give the Jets a bit of a boost, but it's a short trip for the Bills and their confidence will be up after their dramatic Week 2 win. Expect another close game at MetLife for the Bills and Jets this Sunday. Here's a preview of what to expect.
Jets' Pass Offense vs. Bills' Pass Defense
Geno Smith has had an up-and-down start to his career, and he'll face a very confident Buffalo pass rush this week. They had six sacks last week, 4.5 by Mario Williams alone. The Jets have a better offensive line than the Panthers, but the Bills even got to Tom Brady three times in the opener. Smith's pocket presence isn't there yet, so I expect him to take some sacks on Sunday. The key for him and the Jets' offense is to limit the mistakes made by Smith that could turn into potential points by the Bills.
Bills' Pass Offense vs. Jets' Pass Defense
Although they only gave up 13 points last week to the Pats, the Jets' secondary has to be better this week if they want to win. There were too many receivers running open for the Pats. If guys like Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods get open like that, they are going to make the Jets pay. The key for the Jets' defense is to get a pass rush going and get in Manuel's face and force bad throws. Manuel has been good in the face of pressure so far this year, so the onus will be on the Jets' corners to produce.
Jets' Run Offense vs. Bills' Run Defense
If there's been one bugaboo for the Bills' defense this season, it's been their run defense. They gave away chunks of yardage to Shane Vereen of the Pats in Week 1, and gave up a few long runs to DeAngelo Williams last week. The question will be if there's a back on the Jets that can exploit that. If they can contain Smith and sit on the run, the Bills' defense can be very effective. It's another reason that the Jets' defense relies so heavily on the rookie right now. Teams need to respect Smith to take resources away from stopping the run. He has to earn that.
Bills' Run Offense vs. Jets' Run Defense
C.J. Spiller looked like his old self on Sunday against the Panthers, and that could be a problem for the Jets. Spiller has had some big games against the Jets in the past. The Jets' run defense is strong when they it is facing a downhill runner, but a guy like Spiller can get to the edges and make them pay. Again, a lot of the onus will be on the maligned Jets' secondary, who will be tasked with making sure that Spiller doesn't get around the edges.
Final Score Prediction: Bills 20, Jets 13
It will be a close, relatively low-scoring game on Sunday. I think the Bills will make just a few more plays than the Jets and take this one. As crazy as it sounds, the Bills will be tougher on the Jets' defense than the Patriots were on offense last week. Stevie Johnson in particular is a guy that could create matchup problems. I think Smith will be forced into a few mistakes by the Bills' defense, and that will be the difference in the game. I expect the matchups between Smith and Manuel to get more exciting as they mature as QBs, but this game will be won by defense.