Everyone is calling it a must win for obvious reasons – the Cardinals and Patriots await in weeks 3 and 4. It doesn’t really get much bigger than this for the Bills. The game is in prime time, at home, on national TV, against a division rival and the stakes are high. They had plenty of things to correct from Week 1 and a short week to do it before tonight’s kickoff.
Here’s three things the Bills MUST do to get a win in Week 2…
1) Attack vertically
The Bills didn’t even attempt to throw the ball deep in Week 1 and it made their offense predictable. That can’t happen again this week, especially not against an even better Jets defense. Now, a lot of this hinges on Sammy Watkins being able to play and if he can, his level of effectiveness. He’s obviously Buffalo’s best deep threat and will be matched up with Darrelle Revis, who is coming off of a forgettable outing where A.J. Green of the Bengals torched him for 10 receptions, 152 yards and a touchdown. Everyone from Rex Ryan to Todd Bowles to Ryan Fitzpatrick have said Revis hasn’t lost a step and he’ll bounce back, but Watkins usually does pretty well against the veteran cornerback so the Bills need take advantage. If Watkins can’t suit up, they’ll have to find someone else to stretch the field and keep the defense honest. Then it’s up to Tyrod Taylor to let it fly!
2) Keep their emotions in control
Earlier this week Ryan pointed out that he felt his players were “too ampted up to play” for some of the team’s nationally televised, prime-time games last season and that it hurt them from a performance standpoint. Tonight has all the makings for that to happen again. It’s a prime-time game, on your home field, with one of the most rumpus crowds in all of football. It could be a recipe for disaster or the Bills could settle down early and go take care of business. Under Ryan’s tutelage you never know which you’re going to get, but if has to be the latter for Buffalo to win this game. This game is too important to let emotions get the best of them.
3) Neutralize a physical Jets pass rush
Protection was a theme from Rex Ryan during this short week of practice and there’s no denying it needs to be better than it was in Week 1. Not having LT Cordy Glenn won’t help. That said, we saw this Bills O-line have success against the Jets front seven in two games last season. In their first meeting on Nov. 12, they provided LeSean McCoy with plenty of holes to break out for 112 yards on 19 carries. In pass protection they didn’t fair as well as they’d probably like, giving up four sacks and nine quarterback hits, but they got the job done. They particularly struggled with Muhammad Wilkerson in that game, as the defensive end tallied two sacks and three quarterback hits. When they faced off again in Week 17 the Bills offensive line was much more effective at neutralizing the Jets pass rush, surrendering just two sacks – both to ILB David Harris – two quarterback hits. That’s the type of bounce back performance they need to put together tonight. Guys just looked confused out there on Sunday and were unsure of their assignments. Hopefully they’ve sorted out any issues they had up front in Week 1 and come out much more organized. If they do Buffalo should control the the game on the ground, be able to take more shots downfield and ultimately win.
Only two players are out for tonight’s contest, S Colt Anderson (foot) and T Cordy Glenn (ankle).
Six others are questionable: TE Charles Clay (knee), WR Sammy Watkins (foot), DL Jerel Worthy (knee), TE Jim Dray (ankle), CB Kevon Seymour (hamstring), QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder).
Both T Seantrel Henderson and DL Marcell Dareus will be out serving the second of a four game suspension.
QB Bryce Petty (right shoulder), is the only player ruled completely our at this point, while LB Jordan Jenkins (calf), CB Darryl Roberts (foot) are listed as doubtful.
The group of questionables includes LB Bruce Carter (shoulder), LB David Harris (shoulder), DE Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle, toe)
Spencer’s prediction: I was wrong in Week 1, I know. But I didn’t expect the Bills offense to play so miserable. Unfortunately I don’t know that in a short week, against a tougher defense in the Jets than they faced in Baltimore, that things are going to get much better. However, they can only go up from Sunday’s loss. For all intents and purposes this is a must win for the Bills. To win a game against a division foe restores hope that the 2016 season can be something special. Losing it puts Buffalo in a tough spot where they’d be staring 0-4 right in the face with Arizona and New England looming in weeks 3 and 4. Rex Ryan has never started a season 0-2, so I’m betting with history here. The defense is solid, the offense does enough and the Bills win 17-14.
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