The New York Jets head into the final stretch of the season facing a challenge that few expected they would at the beginning of the season: trying to make the playoffs. The Jets are 5-4 and currently hold the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC, and their quest to maintain that standing begins Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.
The Jets defeated the Bills 27-20 back in Week 3 in a game that was not as close as that score indicates. The Jets turned in one of their best offensive performances of the season in that game, with Geno Smith, Bilal Powell, Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill all recording season highs in yards. The Jets also played well defensively until late, when they made a few mistakes to allow the Bills back in the game.
The Jets head out on the road for the rematch, and it is crucial that they stay focused on this week’s game and not take the Bills for granted. The Jets have two huge games with major playoff implications coming up against the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins after this, and there is certainly a temptation to take the Bills for granted and look forward.
The Jets have already made that mistake once this year, completing overlooking the Pittsburgh Steelers the week before their rematch with the New England Patriots. The Jets came out completely flat and unprepared, and they blew what should have been an easy win. If the Jets had been focused and won that game, they would be in complete control of their own playoff destiny.
Rex Ryan and his staff need to make sure that the team stays focused on the Bills and only the Bills this week. Buffalo hasn’t been great this season, but they still have some explosive players on offense, and they are very familiar with the Jets. Divisional games are always tough, so taking Buffalo for granted would be a huge mistake.
The Jets need to pressure EJ Manuel the way they did in the first meeting, and they have to shut down running backs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. Offensively, Holmes should be back this week, giving Smith and the passing game a much needed boost. However, the offense should again focus on Chris Ivory and the ground game, as that has been the Jets’ most effective weapon.
If the Jets can get this win, then they will be in position to worry about the rest of the season and their playoff chances. However, the Jets have been wildly inconsistent this season, and it is time that they get on their first winning streak. Just because the Bills are not playoff contenders doesn’t mean this game is any less important, and the Jets need to treat it like it is the biggest game of their season.