With little to play for other than pride, the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets should still be eager to face one another in Week 14. The two AFC East rivals will kick off at 1:00 EST on Sunday, December 9, at New Era Field in Buffalo, New York. The game can be seen in local markets on CBS.
Oddsmakers list the Bills as 3.5-point favorites at home. The over/under is set at 38.5 points. Be sure to check out a full list of the Week 14 NFL betting odds.
Even by the standards for a team that’s 3-9, things are going quite poorly for the Jets these days. After a 3-3 start to the season, the Jets have now lost six in a row after blowing a 13-point 4th quarter lead against the Titans last week. Sadly, it was just the latest low moment in a season full of low moments in New York. Frustration is clearly starting to boil over for head coach Todd Bowles, who is likely to be let go at the end of the season.
If there’s a silver lining for the Jets, it’s that rookie quarterback Sam Darnold could return for the final four games of the season. There was some optimism that Darnold would return last week against the Titans, but Josh McCown ended up making his third straight start. Bowles won’t say for sure that Darnold will play this week, but things appear to be trending in that direction.
The Bills, on the other hand, were painfully close to winning their third straight game last week. Buffalo out-gained Miami by over 200 yards, but turnovers, untimely penalties, and a dropped pass on the final drive of the game ended up costing them. While the Bills are a disappointing 4-8 on the season, they’ve played well the past few weeks. Rookie Josh Allen is also starting to impress people with both his arm and legs. He’s definitely giving the Bills something to be excited about late in the year, especially with three of their final four games at home.
When these two teams met a few weeks ago, the Bills blew away the Jets 41-10 despite being heavy underdogs on the road. Buffalo out-gained the Jets by over 250 yards in a game that New York trailed 31-0 late in the 2nd quarter. That should make the Jets eager to get some redemption after such a humiliating defeat. It’s also worth noting that both Allen and Darnold missed that game due to injury. This week will actually be the first meeting between the two rookie quarterbacks who figure to see a lot of one another in the years to come.
I can’t believe I’m taking the Bills as a favorite, but the Jets have been that bad over the last several weeks. Even when they dominated a game for well over a half last week, they found a way to lose by four points. With Bowles hanging by a threat with regard to job security, I don’t see them bouncing back. The Bills, meanwhile, are still playing hard for Sean McDermott. I think Buffalo will win and cover, despite how crazy that is to hear.
Whether it’s McCown or Darnold starting, it’s tough to envision the Jets getting much out of their passing game. The 39-year old McCown has been dreadful, throwing just one touchdown pass to four interceptions in his three starts. He’s also completing just 55% of his passes during that span, so it’s not as if there’s much of a silver lining to him starting.
There’s also no guarantee that Darnold will be any better if he gets the start. He hasn’t played in over a month, and the last time he did, he threw four interceptions in an ugly 13-6 loss to the Dolphins. On the season, he’s thrown more interceptions than touchdowns. He’s also going to be a little rusty after missing so much time.
To be fair, the Jets had a lot of success on the ground against a good Tennessee defense last week. But the Bills have been decent defending the run this year. They will also know that they need to stop the run and make the Jets beat them through the air. If Buffalo can do that, they also have a steady pass rush that sacked McCown three times a few weeks ago and had three more last week in a losing effort.
On the other side of the ball, the Jets have proven to be unreliable defensively. They proved last week that even when they play well, they can’t put four quarters together. They also proved during their last meeting with the Bills that they are capable of struggling against mediocre offenses. After last week’s 4th quarter collapse and Bowles being under so much heat, I’m not sure I see the Jets bringing their best effort on that side of the ball.
Obviously, Buffalo isn’t exactly a juggernaut offensively. But Allen is coming off one of his best performances throwing the ball. He’s also proving to be a menace with his legs, both running for big yards and keeping plays alive outside the pocket and looking downfield. Either way, he’s able to put opposing defenses under a lot of pressure.
Obviously, it’s tough to swallow 3.5 points for a team that has only won by a comfortable margin twice in 12 games this season. However, I see this as picking against the Jets more so than favoring the Bills. The Jets have lost six games in a row, with all but one coming by at least a touchdown. That makes me comfortable leaning toward Buffalo to cover.