It is officially week 18 of the NFL season and that means it’s rivalry week. The Buffalo Bills are coming off a win against the Atlanta Falcons where they clinched a playoff spot, but need a win here to secure the division title. The New York Jets are coming off a close loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and will look to finish their season off on a strong note.
The last time these two teams faced, it was Mike White that the Bills defense had to prepare for. Now it’s rookie quarterback Zach Wilson who has looked more confident these last few weeks compared to the beginning of the season. Before Wilson’s injury in week six he had nine interceptions, over the six games he’s been back he has only thrown two interceptions. While Wilson is progressing with this and making some of his reads better he still has a 19.5 bad throw percentage and going up against the Bills passing defense may cause problems for Wilson. Even with the loss of Tre’Davious White the Bills have still allowed the least amount of passing yards with 2,766, and have the second-most turnovers with 30. While it was White that this defense faced last time, the Bills secured four interceptions by four different players consisting of White, Taron Johnson, Levi Wallace, and Jordan Poyer.
Two of White’s interceptions he threw were from a clean pocket which has been rare for the Jets. In the previous game alone the Jets offensive line allowed six hurries, 11 pressures, and five quarterback hits. The offensive line took even more of a hit on January 4, 2022, as they placed Mekhi Becton’s backup, George Fant on IR, so now they will have third-string Conor McDermott playing. For a unit that has allowed 159 pressures, 46 quarterback hits, and 44 sacks this is not a good sign. The Bills defense still leads the NFL in pressure percentage with 29.3%, and with a third-string tackle that opens the door for edge rushers Jerry Hughes and Greg Rousseau to potentially have a huge day. Both Rousseau and Hughes lead the Bills defense in pressures with 24 and have 5.5 sacks between the two of them. The last time these two faced it was Elijah Moore who scored the teams only receiving touchdown, and the Jets could potentially get him back this week off IR. If he isn’t and Braxton Berrios is healthy, Berrios has turned into Wilson’s favorite target. Berrios has been a standout on special teams, and last week he had eight receptions for 65 yards and was used as a rusher two times, with Berrios working out of the slot Johnson will be covering him.
On the offensive side of things for the Bills, Josh Allen is coming off a game where he was more productive as a runner compared to a passer. Through the air Allen only completed 11 passes for 120 yards, and had three interceptions although only one of them was considered a turnover-worthy play. Instead, Allen would end up running the ball 15 times for 81 yards and two touchdowns. The Bills with the weather conditions made the run game a focal point as Devin Singletary got going with 23 rushing attempts for 110 yards and two touchdowns. When it comes to stopping the run the Jets have struggled allowing the fourth most rush yards with 2,181. Containing Allen will be a must for the Jets, the previous game Allen only ran three times compared to throwing 21 times for 366 yards. With the Buffalo weather conditions they could see Allen as a rusher a bit more. In the Bills most recent game the offensive line gave Allen 3.4 seconds to throw, and none of the starters allowed a sack or a hit.
If Allen is given that much time to throw again, look for him to take advantage of the Jets secondary with explosive plays to Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis. Diggs the last time the two teams faced saw a season-high in yardage with 162. Davis really burst back onto the scene catching all three passes he was targeted on for 105 yards. The Jets defense ran mostly cover-three in this matchup which allowed Allen and his receivers to put up those types of numbers, so it will be interesting to see if they shift more to cover-two in an attempt to limit this from happening again.
As much growth as this young Jets team has shown, they have to head into Buffalo to face a Bills team that has their consecutive AFC East championship in sight. The extra motivation in addition to the mismatches the Bills create my score prediction for the game is the Bills winning 36-10.
For more NFL content from around the league make sure to follow TWSN on Twitter and Instagram. For more Buffalo Bills content, updates, and even College Football news make sure to follow myself on Twitter and Instagram as well!