A closer look at Sunday's game (with help from ESPN Stats & Information):
• A lot of people are wondering why QB Mark Sanchez has been inconsistent, and the answer is shaky pass protection. Unlike some quarterbacks, Sanchez needs sound protection to perform. Under pressure, he has no TD passes and six interceptions over the past two seasons. He's the only QB with 100 attempts under duress and no TDs over that time. Fortunately for the Jets, the Bills' pass rush is benign.
Sanchez Passing Last 2 Seasons
Category ---- Under Duress --- No Duress
Comp pct ..... 26.5 ................ 60.4
Yds/att ........ 3.0 .................... 7.2
TD-Int diff .... -6* .................. +14
Total QBR ..... 2.3 ................... 54.6
* - Tied for worst in NFL, with Brett Favre and Matt Moore
• WR Plaxico Burress should be a key player in this game. In the previous meeting, only three weeks ago, Burress set season highs in receptions (five) and receiving yards (79), catching all five of his targets. It’s the only time in Sanchez’s career he’s completed all of his passes to a wide receiver in a game in which he targeted that wide receiver at least 5 times.
The Jets should be able to find favorable favorable matchups because the Bills' secondary is beat up. CB Terrence McGee is out for the season, and they will start mediocre nickel back Leodis McKelvin or rookie Aaron Williams in his spot.
• When we last saw the Jets' defense, it was getting embarrassed by Tim Tebow in Denver. Tebow's 95-yard TD drive to beat the Jets was the second-longest drive the Jets have allowed (in terms of yards) in the Rex Ryan era, behind a 96-yard TD drive by the Steelers in Week 15 of 2010.
That should put the Jets in an ornery mood with the Bills coming to town, a team they should be able to control. Over the last five games (1-4), the Bills have averaged 14.6 points per game, down from 32.8 over the first five (4-1). The turnover margin over the same periods has gone from +11 to -9. It's like a different football team.
• After a slow start, the Jets thought they had re-discovered their running game with a 160-yard performance last month against the Chargers. Since then, the production has steadily declined, going from 126 (against the Bills) to 110 to 83.
The Jets have been held under 100 yards four times this season after having just three games with less than 100 rushing yards in their first two seasons seasons under Ryan -- a staggering dropoff. They should get it together against the Bills. In their last five meetings, the Jets have averaged 246 yards per game, often exploiting them with misdirection plays.
Jets Rushing Under Rex Ryan
Category ----- 2009-10 ----2011
Rushes PG ...... 35.7* ....... 26.9
Rush YPG ....... 160.3* ..... 96.6
Yds/rush ........ 4.5 ............. 3.6
Rush TD .......... 35 ............. 7
* Led NFL