NY Jets (10-5) at Buffalo (7-8)
When: Sunday, January 3rd 2016
Where: Ralph Wilson Stadium, Orchard Park, NY
Time: 1:00 ET | TV: CBS
The New York Jets can clinch their first playoff berth since 2010 when they visit Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills to close out the regular season. New York recorded their fifth straight win last week when they knocked off New England 26-20 in overtime. The Patriots won the coin toss, but decided to kick and the Jets moved right down the field and sealed it with a 6-yard TD pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Eric Decker. The Jets moved ahead of the Steelers for the last Wild Card spot after Pittsburgh faltered in Baltimore last week. With a win today over their old coach, the Jets will clinch a playoff spot. If they don’t win, then they’ll need the Steelers to lose to Cleveland. Fitzpatrick was 26-of-41 for 296 yards, 3 touchdowns, and no interceptions in the win over New England last week. He needs 276 more yards to surpass 4,000 for the first time in his career. Fitzpatrick makes the Jets more of a balanced team now. They’re ranked 11th in both passing and rushing yards per game and 7th in total offense. Decker and fellow wideout Brandon Marshall are the top WR tandem in the NFL. Combined they have 176 receptions, 2,353 yards, and 24 touchdowns. Running back Chris Ivory needs just 11 yards to break 1,000 and backup Bilal Powell is averaging 7.3 yards a carry over his last three games. The defense owns the best rush defense in the league allowing just 81.5 yards a game on the ground.
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The Bills can finish 8-8 in what has been a disappointing first season for head coach Rex Ryan. The defensive specialist has his team ranked 20th overall and 31st in sacks. The defense did step up in the first meeting between these two teams. Buffalo beat New York 22-17 and the defense had two interceptions, recovered a fumble and stopped the Jets inside the Bills’ 10 in the final minutes. Running back LeSean McCoy has a torn MCL and is listed as doubtful for today’s game. Karlos Williams (493 yards, 6 TDs) and Mike Gillislee (239 yards, 3 TDs) will fill the void. McCoy and Williams have helped the Bills to the best rushing offense in the league this season (154.6 yards a game). The Bills will miss the playoffs for the 16th straight year, but both Ryan and general manager Doug Whaley will be back next year. On Wednesday, the team announced that the duo will get another chance to turn things around despite the disappointing campaign. The Bills snapped a two-game losing streak last week in a 16-6 over depleted Dallas. It was Buffalo’s third-straight home win and are now 4-3 at Ralph Wilson Stadium. It was the first time in five games that the Bills have held their opponents to under 20 points.
Rex will pull out all the tricks to prevent his former team from reaching the playoffs, but I don’t think the Jets will blink. They’re hot right now and are hungry to get back to the postseason.
Pick: Jets -3