On today’s NFL docket there are a few very intriguing games, but perhaps no game is more compelling than the game between the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets for a variety of reasons. Sure there are other marquee matchup games like San Fran and Green Bay, Cincinnati against Baltimore, and Denver vs Pittsburgh, but most would agree with the assessment that those games are being played by quality teams looking to make a serious run at the Superbowl. The New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills, on the other hand, are two teams that are difficult to get a good feel for. One of these two teams is going to be second in the A.F.C. East and have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs. Both of these teams feature promising defenses with major questions on offense. One of these teams features one of the most polarizing figures in the entire world. Not the sports world, the entire world.
Here’s what I’ll be watching for in this game other than Tim Tebow and Mario Williams.
What’s the WR pecking order?
One of the major questions for the Bills heading into the season who is going to step up at WR on the team. The Buffalo Bills, despite having major established players at WR went shallow at the position on their 53 man roster with only five WR (plus Brad Smith). Steve Johnson is the #1, but who really is the #2 WR. Donald Jones, T.J. Graham, or David Nelson. Someone must step up.
Will the Bills run a modified NFL Type spread offense?
I saw a stat earlier, I believe in the SI season preview issue, that the Bills ran the most plays with 4 WR on the field last year, this year the Bills plan on using a no huddle offense for the entire year. A fast spaced, spread out offense with an average quarterback to hide his deficiencies? I’ll be interested how this works today, especially against a plus defense like the Jets.
The Bills back seven
I’m specifically thinking about LB Kelvin Sheppard, Arthur Moats, and CB Stephon Gilmore. I’ve been impressed with the ability of Arthur Moats since the minute he stepped on the field with the Buffalo Bills. He’s always flashed ability. He’s perhaps best known for the big hit he put on Brett Favre when he was on the Vikings, but he’s a nice looking young player who is going to get the chance to prove himself this year. Sheppard is a promising two down linebacker, and Stephon Gilmore was picked very highly and I’m interested to see how he plays in his first action. Luckily for him, he is facing the anemic Jets offense.
How does Eric Wood look?
The Bills’ Eric Wood is one of the best young centers in the entire league. He missed the last half of the 2011 season. A full slate of health for Wood could be key to a Bills playoff run.
For the New York Jets
Can they generate a pass rush without blitzing.
The Jets have blitzed a lot under Rex Ryan leaving their secondary vulnerable. Ryan had little choice, however, because the Jets have lacked dynamic pass rushers. The Jets have spent their last two first round picks on big talented defensive linemen. If they are able to generate a pass rush without blitzing this could be the league’s best defense.
How does the infusion of Tebow disrupt Mark Sanchez’s rhythm?
I think this i really the key question to the whole Tebow/Sanchez debacle. I mean debate. Will Tebow’s presence drastically impact Sanchez’s ability to get into a ‘game flow’. There’ s a unquantifiable zone that quarterbacks get into sometimes, will Tebow keep Sanchez from reaching his zone?
What does Tebow actually bring to the Jets?
Here’s the reason I’m completely against the Tebow trade for the New York Jets. Last season the Jets were very good in the red-zone, and in short yardage situations. Sanchez in his young career has also been the best often in the fourth quarter. These are the areas Tebow excels in, what is he adding that is so different to the Jets offense than they had last year?
Can Shonn Greene finally breakout?
This is purely a selfish question. I have Greene in a big money fantasy league and I’m hoping this is the year he finally puts it together. This game in particular is important to watch because the Bills have been terrible against the run in the last few seasons.
Who is Robert Malone? He is the Jets punter. If the Jets offense is as bad as I think it is (and it is), Malone is going to get a lot of work. The Jets jettisoned Steve Weatherford two years ago and have watched him be one of the league’s best punters. The Jets look like they are destined to punt a lot this year and they need Malone to be up to the task.
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