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NFL New York Jets

5 Things to Watch for New York Jets vs Buffalo Bills

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5 Things to Watch for New York Jets vs Buffalo Bills

jets
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

At 5-4, the New York Jets are one of the biggest surprises in the NFL this season, and they are currently in possession of the final Wild Card Spot in the AFC. The Jets are coming off their bye week, and they will now travel to play the Buffalo Bills, a team they defeated 27-20 back in Week 3.

The Jets have several games with major playoff implications coming up after this contest, and there will surely be some temptation to look past the Bills, a team that, on paper, the Jets should defeat with ease. However, divisional games are always challenging, and the Bills would certainly like to knock one of their biggest rivals down a notch in the playoff standings.

This a classic trap game for the Jets, and they have already fallen victim to such a scenario once this season, a Week 6 defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Rex Ryan and the coaching staff need to make sure that the players are focused only on the Bills, because Buffalo is capable of springing the upset.

The Jets had their best offensive game of the season against the Bills in Week 3, and Geno Smith recorded a career high 331 yards passing in that contest. Smith will be looking to repeat that success, as he and the Jets’ offense have been wildly inconsistent this season.

The Jets also turned in a very strong defensive performance against the Bills, but they faded down the stretch. They will look to pressure EJ Manuel and have a completely dominant performance for all four quarters in the rematch.

The Jets need this win to maintain their standing in the playoff race, and these five areas are going to be the keys to the game.

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Can Pass Rush Repeat Week 3 Performance?

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Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets were able to dominate the Bills’ offensive line in Week 3, recording 8 sacks and 16 QB hits. That kind of pressure gives Manuel no time to make decisions, and it forces the rookie to make throws he is not comfortable with.

Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson lead a front seven that has several Pro Bowl candidates, and they will all be looking to get after Manuel again. Quinton Coples could be the x-factor, as he is starting to find his form as a pass rusher.

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What Impact Will Ed Reed Make?

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The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

The big news of the week for the Jets was the signing of Ed Reed, a former All-Pro safety who was released by the Houston Texans this week. Rex Ryan worked with Reed for many years in Baltimore, and Reed should be able to seamlessly fit into the Jets’ defense.

However, Reed is not the player he once was, and he struggled all year with the Texans. The Jets should not be expecting an elite player, but Reed still could have a significant impact. The Jets lack a true coverage safety, which is exactly what Reed is. The Jets are hoping for some interceptions out of Reed, and look for him to play centerfield and try to pick off Manuel.

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Can Chris Ivory Continue Hot Streak?

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Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Ivory has finally taken over the Jets’ backfield in the last month, rushing for over 100 yards in Week 7 and then having a monster game (18 carries, 139 yards, 1 TD, 7.7 YPA) against the New Orleans Saints in Week 9. Ivory is a bruising runner who wears defenses down, and the Jets are more than happy to feed him the ball.

The Jets ran the ball 41 times for 182 yards back in Week 3, and they will be looking to repeat that performance. The Bills have the league’s 22nd ranked run defense, and the Jets will be looking to take advantage of that. Expect Ivory to have a big workload, and he should be very productive.

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Effectiveness of Returning Receivers

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Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets are finally getting their receiving corps back to full strength, as Santonio Holmes, Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Winslow all return this week. Holmes had a big game against the Bills the first time around, catching 5 passes for 154 yards and 1 TD.

It will be interesting to see how quickly these receivers can work back into the offense, and Holmes and Winslow will have to shake off the rust a little bit. However, their presence should be a huge boost to Smith and the pass game, and it makes the Jets a much more balanced offense.

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Rebound Game from Geno Smith

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Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The win over the Saints in Week 9 was a huge victory for the Jets, and they did it despite a poor performance from their quarterback. Smith completed just 8/19 passes for 115 yards and no touchdowns, setting season lows in all four categories.

The Jets need Smith to have a big bounce back game, because they do not want to become one dimensional on offense. The return of his receivers should help, and Smith has tended to alternate good and bad performances. The Jets need consistently solid play from Smith, and it needs to start this week.

Greg Sulik is a New York Jets writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @GregSulik or add him to your network on Google