FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- In an AFC week, it's not surprising to see New York Jets players make comparisons between the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots. With Bills running back Fred Jackson emerging as one of the best in the league in a 5-2 season, Bart Scott said the Patriots offense is still better for one reason.
"One thing that's different between them, they don't have Tom Brady," Scott said. "(Ryan Fitzpatrick's) a good quarterback and he's playing well, but you know Tom is a totally different monster and we can play them a little different."
Fitzpatrick is easier to dismiss than Jackson, currently on a pace to have the best year of his career. He has 721 yards on 132 carries through seven games and has had three straight games of over 100 rushing yards. The Jets aren't taking him lightly.
"He's making a lot of people miss, he's breaking a lot of tackles," Jets linebacker David Harris said. "They do a good job of making him effective in their offense; they do a lot of three, four receiver sets, spread the field out and he finds the holes."
Aaron Maybin said Jackson has always been a grinder, but that it's hard to be a star on a team that isn't finding results.
"If you look at the numbers, he's been effective," Maybin said. "It's just he's finally getting recognition since they're winning."
Conversely, the Jets have struggled to defend against the run. They have given up an average of 126.9 rushing yards this season, putting them 25th in the league. Scott points to the fact that the Jets gave up 136 yards to BenJarvis Green-Ellis, a season high for the Patriots running back. But that was a number they could live with since it meant Tom Brady wasn't throwing the ball.
"The numbers don't always tell the story," Scott said.
Jets coach Rex Ryan has stressed that the Jets need to do a better job setting the edge. Particularly on the right side. The Jets have some new personnel this season in Ropati Pitoitua, Jamaal Westerman, Muhammad Wilkerson and Marcus Dixon. Earlier this season, linebacker Bryan Thomas went out with a torn Achilles.
The Jets have always prided themselves on defense, and against the pass are seventh in the league.
The Bills traditionally spread teams out by using three or four wide-receiver sets, so limiting Jackson's numbers will be key. Scott said that the Bills weren't doing anything particularly flashy, but what they were doing worked well.
"They only have six running plays but they run them so well and they're used to seeing different fronts because they run them so often," Scott said. "So they can make subtle adjustments to different fronts."
And cornerback Darrelle Revis said the Jets weren't going to have to focus in on Jackson if they are going to beat the Bills on Sunday.
"No, we gonna stick to our game plan and I feel we have a good game plan on him," Revis said, "I just think we just need to recognize where he's at. Sometimes when they're in the shotgun he's lined up back there and they run with him in shotgun, so we need to know where he's at at all times."
A lot is on the line. The Jets, Patriots and Bills all could content for the AFC East title, and the No. 2 team has a good shot at a wild card. Coming in third place won't cut it, however, and the Bills are now contending in many informal power rankings.
"They're not the same Buffalo team that we played in the past," Harris said.
Jane McManus is a columnist and reporter for ESPNNewYork.com.