New York Jets (0-1) at Buffalo Bills (0-1)
KICKOFF: Thursday, 8:25 p.m. ET, New Era Field, Orchard Park, N.Y. -- TV/Media: CBS/NFLN, Jim Nance, Phil Simms, Tracy Wilson
SERIES HISTORY: 111th regular-season meeting, Bills lead series 59-51. The Bills have won four straight and six of the last seven games between the teams. Buffalo -- and ex-Jets head coach Rex Ryan -- knocked New York out of playoff contention in the most recent meeting Jan. 2, when Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three fourth-quarter interceptions in a 22-17 loss. The Bills won the only playoff meeting in the series on Dec. 27, 1981, when they edged the Jets 31-27 in an AFC wild-card game at Shea Stadium. The Jets fell behind 24-0 in the second quarter and 31-13 in the fourth quarter but were driving for the game-winning score when QB Richard Todd was picked off at the Bills 2-yard-line in the final seconds.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick struggles badly against Bills head coach Rex Ryan, so the Jets should rely on RBs Matt Forte and Bilal Powell. Powell, who had just six touches against the Cincinnati Bengals, should have a bigger role on a short week, especially as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. Look for the Jets to also utilize emerging Quincy Enunwa both as a de facto tight end and as a running back in gadget plays.
On defense, the Jets will need their 30-something leaders to perform better than they did against the Bengals, when Darrelle Revis was torched repeatedly by WR A.J. Green while LB David Harris allowed a pair of big gains to TE C.J. Uzomah. The Bills aren't likely to get much going on the ground, so expect QB Tyrod Taylor to continually challenge the Jets underneath and to take some shots at Revis, even with WR Sammy Watkins nursing a foot injury.
The Bills are licking their wounds after an awful offensive performance in the loss to Baltimore, and one of the problems was the lackluster play of the offensive line. It could not hold off the aggressive Ravens, making it difficult for Buffalo to establish a rhythm. So look for the Bills to try to get their running game early, and then try to attack the Jets down the field, a facet of the offense that was totally lacking in Week 1.
On defense, the Bills were solid against the Ravens and really gave up only one big play, though that ended up being the difference in the game. Rex will hex Fitzpatrick with all manner of extra pass rushers to force quick decisions while CBs Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby do battle with Jets WRs Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Beyond rattling Fitzpatrick, the Bills have to find a way to contain Forte, who totaled 155 yards from scrimmage last week.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Jets CB Darrelle Revis vs. Bills WR Sammy Watkins. Neither player is likely to be at the peak of health, but all eyes will still be on them. Revis, torched last week by Cincinnati's A.J. Green, needs to prove his recent struggles against No. 1 receivers are an aberration and not the beginning of the end.
--Bills' offensive line vs. Jets' defensive line. Based on what happened in Week 1, this looks like a mismatch. The Jets' line dominated against Cincinnati and sacked QB Andy Dalton seven times. And that was without DE Sheldon Richardson, who served a one-game suspension. Now Richardson is back to join Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams up front. Meanwhile, the Bills' offensive line is coming off a dreadful showing against Baltimore and was largely to blame for Buffalo gaining only 160 yards and scoring seven points.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Jets ILB Darron Lee. New York's need for a fast, second-level linebacker was on display again against the Bengals, when TE C.J. Uzomah was wide open for a 54-yard gain and was all alone at the goal line, although he couldn't corral an underthrown pass by QB Andy Dalton. Lee, who was briefly injured against the Bengals but should be fine for Thursday, has to put his sideline-to-sideline skills to good use in order to contain RB LeSean McCoy and TE Charles Clay on short passes.
FAST FACTS: Buffalo's total offensive output of 160 yards against Baltimore was its worst in 10 years, and its lowest in a season opener since 1979. ... The 11 first downs by the Bills against the Ravens was their lowest total in a game since 2012, when they had 10 in a 45-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. ... Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has 13 pass TDs in his past five division games (at least two in each game). ... Jets RB Matt Forte collected 169 yards from scrimmage (87 rec., 82 rush) in his last game vs. Buffalo (Sept. 7, 2014, with Chicago). He had 96 rushing yards and 59 receiving yards in his Jets debut. Since entering NFL in 2008, he has 12,873 scrimmage yards (8,698 rushing, 4,175 receiving), tops in the NFL.
PREDICTION: Although both teams come into this game after losing season openers, the Bills are at home with an offensive line that wants to overcome last week's embarrassment and a Rex Ryan defense that will give fits to Fitz, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Bills will rush to a win.
OUR PICK: Bills, 24-14.