A Look at the Buffalo Bills vs the New York Jets

by Greg Gabriel, Buffalo Sports Page

The 5-2 Buffalo Bills travel to New Jersey to take on the 3-5 New York Jets tonight at Met Life Stadium. This will be the second meeting this season between the AFC East Rivals with Buffalo having won the first game 21-12 on Opening Day in Buffalo.

Looking back at that first game, the Jets looked as if they might not win a game this year as they struggled both offensively and defensively. The Jets went on to lose their first two games, but then turned things around by winning three in a row over the Dolphins, Jaguars and Browns. Things turned South again for New York as they go into this game with a three game losing streak.

As I write this, there are a few unanswered questions as to who will be available for New York. Starting corner Morris Claiborne has not practiced this week and will most likely be out. The other corner Buster Skrine has had limited practice this week after going through concussion protocol. Because they are thin at the position, the Jets traded with San Francisco for Rashard Robinson at the trade deadline Tuesday to add depth at the position. Robinson had been starting for the 49ers, but lost his job a week ago due to poor play. He will most likely play if needed. Other Jets who could be out are defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson and tackle Brandon Shell. Shell has a neck injury while Wilkerson has a foot injury.

Since the game two months ago, New York has gotten fairly good play from journeyman quarterback Josh McCown. McCown has passed for over 1800 yards and 12 touchdowns on the season and is considered a streaky thrower. When he gets hot, he competes almost everything. The problem he has had is protection. To date he has been sacked 25 times, one of the highest numbers in the league. With Brandon Shell likely out, the offensive line will be even weaker. Look for the Bills to rush McCown heavily.

Right now the Jets are struggling on defense having given up a total of 80 points over the last three games. With Wilkerson questionable and Claiborne out, the Bills may be able to put up 20+ points on the board.

While the Bills have improved offensively, they still are struggling getting the ball to their wide receivers. The Bills wide receiver corps is last in the league for total passing yards with under 600 yards in seven games. That may have been the reason the Bills made the trade with Carolina for huge wide out Kelvin Benjamin. With the trade just being made Tuesday at the deadline, it’s not known if Benjamin will play tonight. If he does, it will be in a very limited capacity. Just two weeks ago, the Bills brought in Deonte Thompson and he was able to make a difference in his first game after only one practice with the team. With quarterback Tyrod Taylor’s favorite receiver Charles Clay out with an injury, Benjamin could give the Bills passing game a jolt for the playoff run. With his size, Benjamin creates matchup problems. Taylor is more of a short to midrange passer and having Benjamin gives him an excellent target underneath.

The Bills ran the ball effectively last week and I look for them to do more of the same tonight. The Jets have given up over 1000 yards on the ground, and that seems to be one of the weaknesses in their defense. If Wilkerson is limited that is a huge plus for Buffalo.
Even with this being a short week and a road game, the Bills have the better club. If they continue to play solid football they should come away from this game with about a 10 point win and be 6-2 at the halfway mark of the season.

Greg Gabriel

Gabriel has spent most of his adult life as an evaluator for various NFL clubs. He started his career in 1991 working for the Buffalo Bills as a part time scout under dormer Bills Director of Player Personnel Norm Pollom. He left the Bills in June 1984 to become the Great Lakes area scout for National Football Scouting. Following the 1984 season, Gabriel joined the New York Giants as their Midwest area scout and was promoted to Director of Player Development in 1996. The Giants went to three Super Bowls and won two during Gabriel’s time with the club.

Following the Giants appearance versus the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV, Greg became Director of College Scouting for the Chicago Bears under General Manager Jerry Angelo. He held that position until June of 2010. During his time with Chicago, the Bears won three Division titles and the 2006 NFC Championship. In his nine Drafts with the Bears, the team drafted 12 future Pro Bowl performers such perennial Pro Bowler Matt Forte, Tommie Harris, Devin Hester, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman.

In the 2012 – 2013 season, Gabriel was a consultant for the Philadelphia Eagles Scouting Department and has since done some small scouting roles for various NFL clubs.

Since leaving the NFL Gabriel has been a contributor for the National Football Post, the Bleacher Report and more recently Pro Football Weekly. He also is both a writer and contributor for WSCR (670the Score) in Chicago. The last three years he has authored the Pro Football Weekly Draft Guide.
Gabriel grew up in Amherst and is a 1974 graduate of Canisius College where he was a member of the football team. He and his wife Robin currently resides in the Chicago area.

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