Cleat Geeks

Thursday Night Preview: Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets

On Thursday Night Football this week, Rex Ryan will be making his return to the stadium where he coached for six seasons. He is now the head coach of the Buffalo Bills, and he will be looking to get a little revenge against a Jets organization that fired him just a season ago. This will be the 110th meeting between these two AFC East teams; Buffalo leads the all-time series 58-51.

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The Bills enter this game 4-4 and coming off a dominating 33-17 victory over the Dolphins last week. The Bills have been banged up for the majority of the season, but they are finally getting their star players healthy. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor made his return last week and completed 11/12 passes for 181 yards, and he also added another 44 yards on the ground. 168 of the yards through the air went to wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who also made his return after missing a week. The Bills are a run-first team, and that showed against the Dolphins. LeSean McCoy ran for 112 NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Billsyards with a touchdown, and rookie Karlos Williams made his long-awaited return to run for 110 yards and two touchdowns. During the game, McCoy got a bit banged up and is currently dealing with a shoulder injury, but he is expected to play through it on Thursday. When the Bills have played well, they looked virtually unbeatable. The problem for them has been consistency. Yes they have been banged up, but they have not won two games in a row yet this season. They have a chance to do it Thursday, but will be faced with a tough task against the Jets.

The Jets have also had a problem with consistency, but enter this game 2nd in the AFC East at 5-3. They also had a victory last week, but the Jaguars gave them more trouble than expected. The once great Jets defense has given up 430+ yards the past two weeks against the Jaguars and the Raiders. Part of the problem for this seems to be the Time of Possession. Earlier in the season, they ran the ball well, and the T.O.P. was heavily in their favor, which lead to a rested defense. The T.O.P. the past two weeks has been much more even, with only about a minute separating the two teams. The offense has generally been great so far this season. Ryan Fitzpatrick has quietly been playing well, and he threw for 272 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions last week. His top two pass-catchers, Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, have been unbelievable this season while playing through each of their injuries. The disappointment last week came from running back Chris Ivory. He finished the game with 26 rushing yards on 23 carries. The week before was 17 yards on 15 carries. Understand why the T.O.P. is so different now? He made it a point to call out the offensive line saying they need to block better. We will see if that will motivate them to play better as they are faced with sixth-ranked run defense on Thursday.

Even though both of these teams have played well at times this year, neither have had a victory over a .500 team. The Bills have victories over the Colts, Dolphins, and Titans, while the Jets have victories over the Browns, Colts, Dolphins, Redskins, and Jaguars.

 

Fantasy:

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The Bills have been a run-first team this season, but they definitely are not afraid to air it out. The Jets have given up a 300+ yard passer in each of the past three games, so the matchup looks good for Tyrod. The Jets also allowed Bortles to scramble for 32 yards last week, so that is definitely something he will look to take advantage of. I think he is a good start against this defense, and I think he will get around 300 total yards. The pass-catchers to own on the Bills will be Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, and tight end Charles Clay. Even though the Jets have the #1 run defense in the league, part of it is due to the fact that the Patriots ran it only nine times, with four of the carries being from Tom Brady. The past two weeks the leading rusher against the Jets has averaged 4.6 and 5.7 yards per carry. The run defense is still pretty good, but they are not as stout as they used to be. I think McCoy will be a high-end RB2, while Karlos Williams will be a great flex play as he looks to continue his touchdown streak. The great thing with these two backs is they also catch the ball. If the Jets decide to over-commit to the run, it will not take these two guys out of the game.

Ryan Fitzpatrick should find plenty of time in the pocket Thursday since the Bills have only four sacks in their last three games, but they also have only one 300+ yard passing game given up in that span. With receivers like Marshall and Decker, he’ll be able to gain some yards through the air. I expect him to get about 225-250 yards passing. That would mean 50-100 yards for each of the two receivers with a great chance for both of them to score. Ivory has struggled lately, as I covered before, I’m not so sure that changes. I do think he’ll at least get two yards per carry, which is an improvement, but he always has the chance of falling into the end zone. Even though he was bad last week, he still got two touchdowns. I’m expecting 50-70 total yards and a touchdown for Ivory in this game. There isn’t anyone else for the Jets I’d want to own, but it is worth a mention that Kenbrell Thompkins has 40+ yards in the past two games. He is a desperation play only.

 

Prediction:

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This game really is a toss-up. These are two hard-nosed, run-first, defensive-based teams that lack consistency and discipline. I know Rex Ryan has been saying that this is just another game, but things will change as soon as he arrives in the visitor’s locker room. I’m thinking his team will be motivated to win it for him, so I pick the Bills to beat the Jets 27-23.

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