Thursday night football belongs to the AFC East as the (4-4) Buffalo Bills head into MetLife Stadium to face the (5-3) New York Jets in a game that could have an impact on both teams’ playoff chances (8.25pm ET Thursday on NFL Network).
At this point, in the division, both are playing for second but a win for the Jets would put them at the top of the wildcard standings while victory for the Bills would put them tied at the top with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Both teams are coming off of recent wins, although not quite against the highest profile of opponents. The Jets just barely defeated the bottom feeding Jacksonville Jaguars while Buffalo destroyed the last place team in the division, the Miami Dolphins. Still, as the old adage goes, a win is a win, even an ugly one, especially for the Bills who avoided a third straight loss.
Entering this game, both New York and Buffalo have had high moments this year. For the Jets, their top game of the season actually came in a loss, as they came within just seven points of defeating the defending Super Bowl champion and undefeated New England Patriots. Only the Steelers have come within a one score margin of defeating New England in addition to the Jets.
Meanwhile, the Bills biggest win came when the team dropped 41 points on the same Dolphins they defeated last week. Divisional games are always important and the Bills have outscored Miami 74-31 in their two meetings.
Why is this important? Because if the Jets and Bills end up competing for one of the two wildcard spots, divisional record could factor into things and right now, that favors Miami at 2-1 to the Jets 1-1.
The Rex Ryan Factor
There is normally a level of high energy associated with when a player comes up against his former team. DeMarco Murray former Dallas Cowboy now with the Philadelphia Eagles, just did so last week, having the best game thus far of his season with over 80 rushing and 70 receiving yards. There of course was the added steam of it being a divisional opponent.
The same can be said for Thursday’s game and while it’s not a player per se, a coach going against his old team, especially when that coach is Rex Ryan (pictured), certainly adds a factor to the contest that otherwise wouldn’t be there. And when that coach names the same player he signed shortly after he was cut from the Jets for breaking their quarterback’s jaw and costing him the first half of the season, a captain, it really offers an element to the game that could have things get heated and fast.
Ryan has always been known as one of the most outspoken coaches in the NFL. He speaks his mind and he’s not afraid to make controversial decisions. This will be the first time he faces up against his old team, the first time he returns to the Meadowlands since he became Buffalo’ coach. Ryan made an impact with the Jets right away, taking them to the playoffs in back to back years. He looks to do the same with the Bills, who will be in search of their second consecutive win for the first time this season.
There’s no doubt Ryan will do everything in his power to make sure his win comes at the Jets’ expense. This factor alone could just sway our preview’s betting picks predictions that way. Even if it is, as he says, just another game, it is a pivotal divisional match up that both teams need to keep pace in the playoff chase.
The Evolution of Ryan Fitzpatrick
Perhaps somewhat ironically, because of Geno Smith’s injury at the hands of Bills’ player IK Enemkpali, Ryan Fitzpatrick, former longtime Bill, is holding down the reigns in New York and having his best season up to this point, since 2012, his last year in Buffalo.
Fitzpatrick is actually on pace with 13 touchdowns in the team’s first eight games, to set a new career high in that category, topping the 24 he tossed in 2009 and 2010. In just eight games, he already has almost surpassed totals in both yards and completions that he had in 12 games last year.
Playing so well, it has made the decision for New York about Smith, a complicated one to say the least. He is their top pick from just a few years back and is recovered from the broken jaw. It’s possible we see him in some way, shape or form Thursday, but likely not as starting QB. That role belongs to the journeyman Fitzpatrick and it will be his as long as he continues to play well.
Our Preview’s Buffalo Bills at New York Jets Betting Picks & Predictions
For Buffalo, it has been a long road back from injury but the team finally seems to have all of its top guns at its disposal. Tyrod Taylor returned last week from a knee injury to almost perfect line of 11-for-12 with 181 yards and a touchdown. His top receiver, Sammy Watkins, also made his return, totaling eight receptions for 168 yards and a touchdown.
If the Bills can repeat this kind of performance, not to mention the 222 yards on the ground from LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams, they stand a very good chance to defeat a depleted and slightly slumping Jets team.
Now to our predictions, the spread favors the Jets by a around couple of points at home, but the momentum right now has to be with the Bills. Add in Ryan’s unpredictable nature and the way it will undoubtedly affect the atmosphere of the game, and this preview’s betting picks’ verdict is for the Bills to get the win.
- So take the Bills to top the spread. Bovada give the best spread, going +3pts @ -125 betting odds and we would not put you off that at all. But we think the best value bet may be to take Buffalo Bills +2.5pts @ -110 odds with BetOnline or 5Dimes.
- We also expect the total points to go over the 42pts mark, which is the lowest offered by any sportsbook, and that is with 5Dimes @ -110 betting odds.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.