The math of the Jets season is not advanced calculus.
At 3-6, the Jets barely have a pulse. Add another loss and it is time to give the 2018 season a toe tag.
“With more losses, you lose your ability to make it to the playoffs,” Jets receiver Quincy Enunwa said. “Each week that we lose a game, we’re getting further away from contention. For us, it’s now or never. We can’t lose any more games.”
That is the situation the Jets face as they return to MetLife Stadium on Sunday to face the lowly Bills. The Jets are riding a three-game losing streak, lost their starting quarterback and haven’t held a lead in a game since beating the Colts on Oct. 14. They have scored one touchdown in their last 27 possessions.
Things are grim.
“It’s tough, losing is tough,” Jets coach Todd Bowles said. “It’s frustrating for coaches as well as players. I understand in my position how I have to treat players and how we have to bounce back the next week. When you’re by yourself, you’re pissed off, but you’ve got to shake it off and come back.”
The Jets have a great chance to bounce back against a Bills team that has been awful. Buffalo has lost its last four games and five of its last six. The 2-7 Bills have thrown as many pick-sixes as they have touchdown passes through their first nine games. It is unclear who will start at quarterback with Josh Allen, Matt Barkley, and Nathan Peterman all possibilities.
The Jets can’t afford to lose this game and head into the bye week at 3-7. That would lead to non-stop discussion of whether Bowles should be fired, and hope would be extinguished with six games left on the schedule.
“I think it’s huge,” Bowles said of this game. “It’s our next game. It’s a division rivalry. We let a couple of them go, especially this tough one we just lost (to the Dolphins). … Winning takes care of a lot of problems and a lot of issues. It’s important for us to win the next ballgame.”
The Jets offense has been abysmal, but it could benefit from having veteran Josh McCown starting this week in place of rookie Sam Darnold, who has a sprained foot. Darnold played his worst game of the season last week in Miami.
“I think this last game we made a few mistakes, but I think we learned from those mistakes,” Enunwa said. “I think this week we’re definitely rejuvenated and ready to go. We know what’s at stake.”
Bills RB LeSean McCoy vs. Jets safety Jamal Adams
The Bills offense is historically bad. They have scored eight touchdowns in nine games By comparison, the Jets (not a great offense) have 11 passing touchdowns alone. But for all the issues the Bills have, McCoy still poses a threat.
“When you look at them, the thing that scares you is Shady McCoy, of course,” defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers said.
McCoy has had a tough season. He has not scored a touchdown and is second on the team in rushing yards, behind former Jet Chris Ivory. Still, he can do freakish things with a football in his hands.
Adams has had a monster year for the Jets. He was dominant last week against the Dolphins, and he surely will be playing in the box this week, trying to stop the Bills rushing attack, since their passing attack is only a rumor.
“This guy, one thing about him, he has a quality that he comes to the game with,” Rodgers said of Adams. “He has kind of been the same guy every week. He is the same guy every week. He’s just tough. He’s tenacious. He works hard in practice. I can’t say enough good things about Jamal.”
Guess who’s back: It looked like Josh McCown’s days as a starting quarterback came to an end last year in Denver when he broke his hand. But the 39-year-old will be back under center Sunday after Sam Darnold sprained his right foot.
McCown should be fresh after sitting on the bench for the first half of the season, and the offense should move better with him running it than Darnold, who is still feeling his way.
“I say it all the time, that’s why we do this, to play,” McCown said. “You’re torn because your friend and a teammate, it means he can’t go. In that regard, I don’t wish that on anybody, but at the same time as a professional, as a backup quarterback you have to serve your team in that role and go in and play winning football. That’s what’s fun, that’s what you look forward to and that’s why you play this game, and we’ll go out and compete.”
Missing chunks: Teams love to talk about “chunk plays.” Those are runs of more than 15 yards and passes more than 25 yards. Lately, the Jets have been unable to find any chunks.
Over the past three weeks, the Jets have had no rushing plays more than 15 yards. Over the last two weeks, the longest pass has been 29 yards, and the Jets have only two passes of more than 30 yards in the last four weeks.
After an explosive game against the Broncos, the Jets have failed to hit the big play since.
“We’ve got to be more aggressive,” offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates said. “We’ve got to take shots down field, that starts with play calling.”
Takeaway time: The Jets showed their blueprint for success on defense last month when they had four takeaways against the Colts. They did not play great defense that day, but the turnovers led them to victory. In the three games since then, they have failed to get one takewaway.
Matt Barkley, who is expected to start for the Bills, is a journeyman quarterback who has had turnover woes. The Jets have to take advantage of opportunities and pick him off to give the offense a boost. The Bills have turned over the ball an NFL-high 22 times this year.
The defense does not rest: The Bills’ putrid offense has overshadowed some good things from their defense this year. The unit is third in total defense, third in passing defense and sixth in rushing defense. It is 26th in points allowed, but that is partly because the Bills offense has given up points and often leaves the opposing team with good field position.
Rookie linebacker Tremaine Edmunds leads the Bills with 62 tackles and Lorenzo Alexander and Jerry Hughes each have 4 ½ sacks.
The Jets need this one badly. If they lose here, the season is over, Todd Bowles’ seat will be white hot and there could be billboards on Route 3 again. That is why the dismal Bills are the perfect opponent this week.
Jets 20, Bills 10
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