C.J. Spiller is one half of a very talented Buffalo running back tandem. Credit: Getty Images
If the 5-4 Jets are going to be serious playoff contenders, they need to start with a winning streak this weekend in Buffalo.
A win over the Saints two weeks ago and a bye this past week means the Jets will need to build on the momentum of physically manhandling the NFC South's top team.
The Jets haven't won multiple games this season.
In the Bills, the Jets face a team they beat in Week 3 and is currently dealing with injuries to their wide receivers. But the ground game is good and their defense is vastly underrated.
Three things to watch for ...
1. Holmes factor
When Santonio Holmes went down with a hamstring injury in Week 4, the Jets lost a true playmaker and a veteran presence at wide receiver. Now with Jeremy Kerley out for this game with an elbow injury, the return of Holmes to the field after six weeks away is pivotal if the Jets want to pass the ball. While he's enigmatic and streaky, he is a big play waiting to happen.
“I pretty much feel like the last time I played was against Buffalo. I got hurt the week after, but it doesn’t push me any closer to want to play against these guys,” Holmes said. “It’s a conference game for us and it’s going to mean a lot for us to get this one. That’s probably what I’m really looking forward to — just getting the win against these guys.”
Against the Bills in Week 3, Holmes had 10 receptions for 154 yards and a touchdown.
2. Bills secondary is primary
Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith has struggled with turnovers this year, including throwing 13 interceptions (against eight touchdowns). Now that the Bills have a healthy secondary — one that is tied for the league lead with 13 interceptions — it is a huge matchup problem for the rookie. Smith will need to limit mistakes and play smart football. If they can get the ground game going, Smith won't be asked to win the game.
“We still have to be a better team to get more wins, but having the secondary back has helped us with those guys coming back,” Bills head coach Doug Marrone said. “They’re communicating well. They’ve been doing some nice things and getting better and better each week. It’s exciting, but it’s still going to be a very big challenge for us.”
The secondary is keyed by cornerback Stephon Gilmore and free safety Jairus Byrd.
3. Nobody runs like the Bills
Well OK, not exactly, but the Bills do have a dangerous running back tandem in Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. Currently, they are averaging 140.7 yards per game, good for No. 7 in the league in rushing.
“They still have a good running back duo, which is our No. 1 goal to stop,” linebacker Calvin Pace said. “Stop the run.”
The Jets come into the game with the No. 1 rush defense, allowing just 73.8 yards per game.