Tonight, the ninth week of the NFL season kicks off in the New Jersey swamp. The surprisingly not-winless New York Jets (3-5) host the even more surprisingly relevant Buffalo Bills (5-2).
In what most thought would be a rebuilding year, the Bills are keeping pace with the New England Patriots at the top of the AFC East. If they are to have any realistic chance at capturing that crown, tonight is a definite must win.
Buffalo Bills (5-2)
The Bills have the NFL’s longest postseason drought, having not made the second season for the last 17 years. They have also not won the AFC East since 1995. For some perspective on how long ago that was, the Houston Texans and didn’t exist, the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars were in their inaugural season, and the Titans were still the Houston Oilers, and the Baltimore Ravens were still the Cleveland Browns. Needless to say, Bills fans need a season like this.
The Bills can thank their success in large part to an improved, ball-hawking defense. Rookie coach Sean McDermott has done a sublime job getting the most out of the players he inherited. One of the teams biggest question marks was at receiver, and the deadline day deal that brought in Kelvin Benjamin could be the answer to those prayers. With such a short amount of time to acclimate, it’s unsure just how much impact Benjamin will have on tonight’s game. Regardless, Tyrod Taylor has to be ecstatic with the addition.
New York Jets (3-5)
The Jets are still a complete mess, despite their mediocre record. The team has very little talent on the offensive side of the ball and Josh McCown is the only quarterback on the roster worthy of being in the NFL. McCown is 38 years old, and is a short-term answer at best. McCown is surprisingly having one of the best seasons of his life. He need two touchdowns tonight in order to set a new career high, at 14. And with over 1,800 yards thrown for so far he is within striking distance of his career best of 2,511 yards back in 2004. McCown is also some how completing over 70% of his passes in spite of a career percentage that’s under 60%.
Not only have the Jets gotten better QB play than they had any reason to expect, they seemed to have had a wonderful draft. Jamal Adams has looked like an absolute stud, and fellow safety Marcus Maye has been solid as well. Hopefully the Jets can continue to make the future look brighter by losing a bunch of games down the stretch.
How Will This One Play Out?
I feel this one will be close and come down to the final play. It’s a division game and it’s on a short week. Games like this usually even the playing field. Both teams struggle defending the pass, but the BIlls are stout against the run. I see the Bills making the Jets one-dimensional and force the Jets to go to the air. In the end, I see Taylor and the Bills pulling this one out in a nail-biter.