There’s an adage in sports that gets thrown around a lot: it’s hard to beat a team twice.
Whether or not that’s true, it is the challenge facing the Jets on the road at Highmark Stadium on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.
After being a 12.5-point underdog, Gang Green defeated the Bills 20-17 last month at home in a stunner. The Jets slayed David in their first meeting when no one outside the team’s building gave them a chance.
The team is not only confident they can do it again, they believe they can do it in a hostile environment as a 9 1/2-point underdog.
“Not difficult if you do your job right,” Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley said about beating the Bills for the second time. “We have to keep the main thing the main thing and not [be] worried about it being a revenge game or anything else as it’s perceived as it is an opportunity for us to go out there and play really good football, complimentary football, execute and go out there and have fun.
“We have to go out there and handle our job as a defense. If we go out there, execute, communicate, run and hit and make plays, it might be another bad game, it might not. We have a job to do and that’s to make sure we keep them out of the red zone.”
Both the Jets and the Bills are different teams since their Nov. 6 meeting. The most significant change with the Green and White is the person under center.
Mike White was named the starting quarterback two weeks ago after an ugly loss to the Patriots when they decided to bench second-year QB Zach Wilson. Since then, White has bought stability to a position that’s been desperately needed.
White, the former fifth-round pick, has thrown for 684 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions in his two starts (a win over the Bears, a loss at the Vikings). However, in his start against the Bills last season when he started for an injured Wilson, White had his worst game as a pro (four interceptions) in a 45-17 rout by the Bills.
Buffalo will also enter Sunday’s game a much different team from when the Jets saw them last.
Cornerback Tre’davious White has returned from tearing his ACL last year against the Saints. Also, Buffalo will have cornerback Xavier Rhodes, safety Jordan Poyer and possibly linebacker Matt Milano, players who didn’t play against the Jets a month ago.
White will also have to deal with the Bills Mafia, who hasn’t seen their team play at home since Nov. 13 due to a snowstorm that forced the NFL to move their Nov. 20 game against the Browns to Detriot.
“They’re good,” White said about the Bills. “[Jordan] Poyer’s back and Poyer’s a really, really talented player and obviously Xavier Rhodes, Tre’Davious White, two experienced, big corners and then their linebackers [Matt] Milano, and [Tremaine] Edmunds, they’ve been playing together for a long time and playing in the same system for a long time, which always helps.
“So they’re really good at their disguises, really good at owning their rules and knowing their issues and kind of protecting those and they just play really well together.”
Bills quarterback Josh Allen had his worst game this season against the Jets. Allen did rush for 86 yards and two touchdowns, but he completed 18 of 34 passes for 205 yards and two interceptions.
It was the first time Allen was held without a touchdown pass since last season. Allen also registered his worst quarterback rating (46.8) of the year against the Jets.
Not only were the Jets able to limit Allen’s plays through the air, but they sacked him five times. Allen hurt his elbow on the next to last play of the game, but he has played through the injury. Buffalo is 3-1 in its last four games and Allen has looked more like his MVP candidate self as he has thrown for 1,003 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions.
While the Bills have won their last three games, the Jets have lost two of their last three as they’re currently holding on to the final AFC spot at 7-5. Buffalo not only leads the AFC East, but they have the top seed in the conference, which would bring a first-round bye and home-field advantage through the playoffs.
“They’re really playing good defensive ball right now,” Allen said about the Jets earlier this week. “They got some playmakers over there. Obviously, I didn’t play well [in Week 9 at MetLife] and I made some boneheaded decisions.
“Learning from those and just trying to make good decisions and end every drive with a kick, whether it be a punt, field goal or a PAT [point after touchdown].”