Neither of these teams has anything to play for, with the Jets’ season long over and the Bills locked into the 5 seed regardless of what happens here. The Jets should approach this game with their typical level of interest/dedication/focus (whatever that happens to be…), while it wouldn’t be surprising if the Bills take this opportunity to get some key players a bit of rest before a road playoff game in “Week 18.” We’ll keep an eye on news this week, but even if the Bills say they’ll be playing starters all game, it’s fair to assume this may not be completely true.
The Matchup ::
- The Buffalo defense ranks second in points allowed per game, third in yards allowed per game, fourth in DVOA, and third in opponent drive success rate
- The Jets’ offense ranks 28th in points per game, 32nd in yards per game, 32nd in DVOA, and 32nd in drive success rate
- The Jets somehow scored 34 points in three consecutive games in wins against the Giants, Redskins, and Raiders; outside of those three games, they have topped 18 points only three times in 12 games, and have not topped 24 points
- The Bills have allowed only one opponent to top 24 points this year, and they have held nine of 15 opponents to 17 or fewer points
- The Jets have been surprisingly solid on defense themselves, ranking 19th in points allowed per game, seventh in yards allowed per game, and 13th in DVOA; they rank 24th in DVOA against the pass, but second against the run, and have allowed the third fewest running back rushing yards on the season in spite of their 6-9 record, while allowing a check-for-typo 3.18 yards per carry to the running back position
- The Bills have built their offense around the run, ranking 29th in pass play rate
- Josh Allen’s best yardage total on the year through the air is 266, and he has finished below 190 passing yards six times already
- Buffalo is favored by four points in spite of having nothing to play for, in a game that currently carries the lowest Over/Under of the week at 37.0
- The Jets have gone 5-3 at home this year, but have gone only 1-6 on the road
The Game ::
Since putting together the Matchup elements above, the Over/Under on this game has dropped another point, currently putting it at 36.0 — one of the lowest game totals we have seen on the season, and positioning us in a place where the only viable reason to bet on either team is if you feel you can sneak some slate-breaking upside out of what will be a completely overlooked spot. If you want to hunt for this slate-breaking upside from the Buffalo offense, you are completely on your own, as A) this team has produced two slate-breaking stat lines all season against their Week 17 salaries (Josh Allen + John Brown against the Dolphins), and B) it will be a surprise if key starters on the Bills’ offense play the entire game.
On the Jets’ side, things remain just as thin, as no player all season has posted a slate-breaking score against the Bills, while the Jets (as laid out above) have been one of the worst offenses in the league this season. On a 15-game slate, we can do better than this spot.
If choosing to go here for some sort of “one in one hundred” shot, your best bet would be to focus on the Jets offense in the hopes that the Bills give enough key rest to enough key starters on the defense that New York can luck into a handful of big plays. As always when making such a bet, it’s preferable to lean on a player who can get things done for you in just a few big plays, rather than trying to bet on a player consistently beating a difficult matchup in an inconsistent offense. This would put Robby Anderson in your crosshairs, in the hopes that he can land one of his “100+ yards and a touchdown” games. Anderson has seen only 10 total targets across the last two weeks, and he saw only 11 total targets in Weeks 10, 11, and 12 — but in between those two stretches (Weeks 13 // 14), Anderson saw target counts of 10 // 11. And while those came against much weaker secondaries (Cincy // Miami), you’re at least not drawing dead with that play: a boom/bust option who is substantially likelier to bust than to boom, but whose boom potential is at least more than theoretical.
JM’s Interpretation ::
We have 15 games to work with on the slate, and this is one of the lowest Over/Under games we have seen all season. My goal each week is to cut down the slate to around 25 to 35 ultra-attractive plays that all have some sort of clear path toward top-of-slate production (or that open doors to top-of-slate production on other areas of my roster) — which makes this a fairly easy game for me to avoid, with a hat tip given to anyone who captures an unlikely big game from this spot (and with the assumption that I can easily get those same scores in other spots without taking on such unnecessary risk).