With the AFC East table topping Miami Dolphins (6-4) facing a really tough home game against the San Diego Chargers, the way is open for the pack to close . and the New York Jets can continue their rise by beating deadly state rivals the Buffalo Bills, on Sunday.
After producing very little offense against the ever-strong Miami defense and coming out with a gritty 13-10 success two weeks ago, the offense sprang to life against the listless Detroit Lions in the Motor City, beating them 31-14 to go 5-5 for the season.
The Jets host a Bills side that lost 17-16 in Kansas City to boast a similar record to the Jets, who host them. There has been very little between these two over the past 10 years, with the Bills holding a 12-8 advantage in the past 10 seasons, though the Jets have a Week 1 verdict to their credit over their near neighbours, a stunning 37-31 overtime success.
In the last decade the Jets have swept the series twice, while the Bills have taken the home and away fixtures on no less than four occasions. Last season, the Jets won 14-9 and a big divisional win here would put them on course for the play-offs for the first time since 1998.
They need this badly, because their run-in is not an easy one, with road trips to Oakland and New England, with both Denver and Green Bay still to come to the .Big M.. It is to Herman Edwards. credit that his team has rebounded from a disastrous 1-4 start to pinch four of their last five games and in their last two defeats, they have only gone down by a total of seven points.
The resurgence has much to do with the emergence of Chad Pennington at quarterback. Though his limitations were exposed by Miami.s aggressive defense, he has shown immense promise and poise in two big road victories at San Diego and Detroit.
On Sunday, he threw for four touchdowns . the most since Testaverde had five against Miami two years ago. He also completed 21 of 26 passes for 229 yards.
It is fair to say the Jets are on a roll and it is not surprising that they are 3.5-point favorites on the TradeSports. On TradeSports you can wager before the kick off, but you can also continue to play during every NFL game and you wager at the odds that you decide. There is no bookie on TradeSports, just player to player betting.
The Bills look marginally the better outfit and the stats would suggest this. It is arguable that Jets. top rusher Curtis Martin also believes his team is far from the finished article.
After rushing for 112 yards in the success, Martin said: .I`m not going to say the ship is smooth sailing right now. We`ve been patching up a few holes. And we`ve still got some holes to patch up so we can keep going."
As always with the Jets, nothing is easy. There is a simmering pot in the locker room. Now that Pennington has developed a great understanding with Laveranues Coles, Wayne Chrebet, who had such a good understanding with Testaverde, is complaining about his diminished role in the offense. Some people are never satisfied.
Another who can.t be is Ted Cottrell, the defensive co-ordinator, who may have had a few flashbacks of early in the season, as the Jets allowed 95 rushing yards in the first half, led by James Stewart.s 85 yards. In the last two games the Jets had allowed an average of 71 yards all game. Fortunately, adjustments were made and the Lions, forced to play catch-up in the second period, only generated 83 yards of offense and just 13 rushing yards.
Still, Buffalo head coach Greg Williams will have plenty of food for thought. The Bills have looked much the better outfit in recent weeks, despite dropping their last two . a humiliating 38-7 home loss to the New England Patriots and a gut-wrenching close one in Kansas.
It is unlikely they will lose their focus just because the Dolphins are set to visit Orchard Park next week. The Bills. run-in is also a hard one, with trips to New England and Green Bay (who will have already sewn up the NFC North by then and may ease off), and San Diego at home. They close with what looks like a gimme, hosting Cincinnati.
Drew Bledsoe is having a career season with his new club, but he cannot do it on his own. He was let down by a general defensive lapse against new England and has not been helped by the lack of production from running back Travis Henry, who needs to step up.
Bledsoe has skill players at wide receiver and he will look to stretch the Jets defense. He may looks to single out Otis Smith, the veteran corner who has often been burned by speedy wideouts.
If Henry can generate a few yards early on, Bledsoe will be able to use plenty of play action and may slice apart the Jets. suspect secondary. Take the Bills to win. Any points on offer are a bonus. Simon Milham is a columnist with www.tradesports.com. TradeSports is a person-to-person sports trading exchange where members wager together without a bookie and ZERO VIG everyday. TradeSports offers all new members a choice of sign up bonuses. E.g. Open an a/c with $250 or more and we will give you a $50 bonus (mention .SM2.) Normal T&C.s apply.
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