By: Nick Delahanty
The situation is pretty simple for the New York Jets: with a Week 17 victory, Gang Green would secure their first playoff berth since 2010.
In his return to MetLife Stadium, Ryan got his revenge, as his Bills defeated the Jets 22-17 during their Week 9 Thursday night matchup. Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis wasn’t very happy when the team couldn’t complete the comeback against his former coach.
“Yes, it really is (frustrating). There’s a bad taste in my mouth right now,” Revis said after the loss.
Both teams held the same 5-4 record after that Thursday night matchup, but both have gone in completely different directions ever since.
After the Bills defeated the Jets, it looked as if they could be legitimate candidates to compete for a playoff spot this season. However, a 2-4 skid knocked them right out of contention.
On the other hand, the Jets became one of the hottest teams in the NFL, winning each of their last five contests. With a win over the New England Patriots last week and a Pittsburgh Steelers lost to the Baltimore Ravens, the Jets now control their own destiny.
For the Jets to win this game, they must play a much cleaner game this time around. Buffalo’s defense forced three turnovers during their first matchup, while also shutting down the New York’s offense deep in the red zone. The Jets must protect the football and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick must continue to play at a high level.
During the team’s five-game winning streak, Fitzpatrick has thrown for 1,525 yards (305 yards per game), 13 touchdown passes and only one interception.
It’s been no secret that Fitzpatrick’s success has helped the Jets offense roll. During their five-game winning streak, the Jets have averaged 27.2 points per game, and the team has been very effective in putting points on the board.
The Jets defense has also been solid, and with key guys getting healthy, the team has shown how good their defense really could be. In six straight contests, the New York’s defense has allowed 20 points or fewer while allowing the fewest rushing yards to opposing teams in the NFL.
Buffalo’s defense doesn’t rank as high statistically as Rex Ryan would probably like, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy for New York’s offense. Ryan and his crew will definitely bring the pressure, forcing Fitzpatrick to make quick decisions in hopes of him turning the ball over.
Sunday marks Fitzpatrick’s return to Buffalo, his first time at Ralph Wilson Stadium as a visitor. But the Bills think that even though he’s been playing at a high level, he’s still the same quarterback that played for them from 2009-2012.
“As a defender, you have to always remember Fitz is still Fitz,” said Bills cornerback Leodis McKelvin. “He’s going to always give you opportunities to make plays.”
With LeSean McCoy likely out for Sunday’s contest, the Bills might look to air it out a bit more. A key matchup will once again involve Revis, who will have a tough task of slowing down wide receiver Sammy Watkins. The Jets defense got the best of Watkins the first time around, as he only had three catches for 14 yards, but Watkins looks for some payback of his own on Sunday.
This should be a great matchup, as the NFL couldn’t have scripted this one better. A low-scoring game featuring two very good defenses wouldn’t surprise anyone, as this game could come down to who protects the ball better.
Rex Ryan has said throughout the week that he’s taking this matchup as just another game, but it’s obvious that him and his team will do everything in their power to avoid having to watch the Jets in the playoffs this season.