Rex Ryan takes Buffalo to New York for a grudge match against his former Jets. Neil Harvey previews the Thursday night action...
"The Jets D has been looking out of sorts of late to say the least, conceding more than a thousand yards and a massive 12 touchdowns in their last three matches. The signs of decay are starting to show in Gang Green"
Buffalo Bills @ New York Jets
Live on Sky Sports
In Tyrod we trust. Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor has been a revelation during his rookie year and has been the X-factor in each of Buffalo's four victories to date.
Taylor's already become famous for his running abilty, ala Cam Newton. But Bill's coach Rex Ryan has been extremely clever in how he uses his young star, ensuring that he stay in the pocket and keep the defense honest, but ready to unholster that devastating speed on demand. Tyrod's had injury problems, but he's back fit for the trip to New York and the Jets should be worried, very worried. Taylor's rushed for two touchdowns in five games and averaged almost 40 yards a game on the ground, a stat that several franchise RBs around the league would be happy to swap for right now.
Another big factor for the Bills is fit again receiver Sammy Watkins, fresh off a season-high 168 yard, one touchdown performance against Miami. But he's off to Revis Island many will cry! Maybe. But the Jets defense has been looking out of sorts of late to say the least, conceding more than a thousand yards and a massive 12 touchdowns in their last three matches. Signs of decay are staring to show in Gang Green's much vaunted defense.
To be fair. That's judging the Jets defense by the highest of standards. They remain the best in the league at stopping the run. Bills RB LeSean McCoy will found out just how tough they are. But the Bills have a second top-notch runner in Karlos Williams up their sleeve. Williams has been devastating when he's appeared in bursts, grabbing five TDs. That's a stunning number for a back-up! In the second half, just when the Jets defensive line thinks it's seen-off McCoy, it will likely find it then has an explosive and fully charged Williams to deal with.
Another concern for the Jets lies in their secondary. Injuries have beset them in almost plague like proportions of late. They have only two healthy safeties on their roster. Calvin Prior and back-up Dion Bailey both have ankle injuries and are doubts to start there. And that could leave Rontez Miles filling-in, a player who was in the practice squad just two weeks ago. And there's more pain at cornerback, with superstar Antonio Cromartie banged-up. Marcus Williams is set to fill-in.
Key injuries are the last thing a team needs on a short week. And they extend to the offense, where QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is still nursing a mithering thumb injury that refuses to go away. It's the other Ryan though that will be dominating the pre-match talk. Former Jets coach Rex Ryan returns to the House that Rex Built, before they kicked him out of the door last season. Expect a tough, physical showdown between Ryan's run-heavy, defensively tough Bills, and what was Ryan's run-heavy, defensively tough Jets. What you should not expect is for Ryan to show any mercy.
Rex might not be on the pitch, but his knowledge of his former team should be key. He built them and he can destroy them. Certainly he should know how to expose Jets QB Fitzpatrick, who has a 3-6 record against his coaching namesake, completing only a miserable 48 percent of passes in those games. Rex has Fitz worked out. And that's a big problem for the Jets, who need the Journeyman gunslinger to take some pressure of their running game.
And when I say running game, what I really mean is Chris Ivory. A man who has single-handedly carried both my fantasy team and the Jets offense throughout this season. His six TDs and almost 80 yards a game say it all. But leading the Jets attack is perhaps starting to take its toll. Ivory's been pounding out the hard yards on his own. To start with, highly effectively. But in his last three matches he's been in danger of grinding to a standstill, with his last 55 rushing attempts yielding only 84 yards!!
The timing for such a downturn is far from great, with the Jets now up against the league's sixth best run-defense. And if a wheel should come-off the injury-prone Ivory, it would be a double disaster given the considerable role he's also played in New York's passing game. The Bills defense will be locked-in on Ivory here, knowing that if they stop him they'll probably stop the Jets.
Fitz-magic will be looking to hook up with receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, who look to be their best outlets and could put up some decent numbers against a fairly poor Bills secondary. Fitz will need to be on his toes though, given the way the Bills chased down the Jets QB in their two meetings last season. Buffalo won those encounters by a combined score of 81-26, with the Bills defense all over the Jets Offensive line like a rash, sacking the QB a total of 10 times. Fitzpatrick is prone to turnovers and could be forced into making some costly mistakes here by a Buffalo stampede.
I like the Jets this season. A lot. But they're just too banged up coming into this one. And then there's Rex. The Jets fans will be worked up into a frenzy for this one. They loved him. But they might like him a little less by the end of this game.
3pts Buffalo to beat New York Jets @ 2.3811/8
2pts Buffalo to win first half @ 2.305/4 or better
Buffalo to win by 7-12 points @ 7.006/1 or better
LeSean McCoy to score first/anytime touchdown @ 10.009/1 or better
Karlos Williams to score anytime @ 2.506/4 or better
Total Points Over 42.5 @ 1.981/1