ORCHARD PARK - When the Buffalo Bills (3-7) take the field today at Ralph Wilson Stadium, they will be looking to avoid their fourth straight loss. Standing in their way will be the New York Jets (5-4), who last played on Nov. 3 when they beat the New Orleans Saints, 26-20.
A big challenge for the Bills today will be whether or not they can establish a rushing attack against a Jets' defense that has allowed just 73.8 yards per game.
"It probably is our biggest challenge to date going against this group," Bills' head coach Doug Marrone said earlier this week. "They're extremely athletic. They're extremely strong at the point of attack. There's a reason why they're, I think they might be number one in rushing at 73-something yards per game given up."
AP File Photo
In this Nov. 10 file photo, Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel, left, is flushed out of the pocket by Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Ryan Clark (25) and Jarvis Jones (not pictured) during their game in Pittsburgh.
Marrone was right, the Jets allow the fewest yards per game rushing in the National Football League. However, the Bills average 140.7 yards per game on the ground, the seventh-best average in the NFL.
"We're averaging 140 yards a game," Marrone noted. "They're giving up 73. That's a great storyline and challenge right there for our players, to make sure we're able to do that."
It goes without saying then, that the tandem of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller are going to have to show up in a big way this afternoon if the Bills are going to have any chance of avenging their 27-20 Week 3 loss to the Jets, a game in which the Bills fell short of their 140.7-yards-per-game average on the ground after rushing for 120 yards on 25 carries.
"It'll be a good challenge for us," Jackson, who had 72 yards on seven carries the first time these two teams met, said. "One we have to step up and meet and give us a good opportunity to kind of shake back from the performance we had last week. We know our guys are going to be ready for that and look forward to the challenge."
Another challenge for the Bills will be whether or not rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel can shake off his worst performance as an NFL quarterback.
"I think a lot of it for me, I just try to learn from it," Manuel said of his performance last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers. "I am not going to allow a rough game or anything like that to affect my confidence."
Manuel finished 22 of 39 for 155 yards, a touchdown and an interception against a Steelers' defense that was coming off a game in which it allowed 55 points to the New England Patriots.
"I am here for a reason," Manuel said. "If I was not able to do the things I know that I can do, I would not be here. I am always going to remain confident. Just keep fighting and keep working."
Defensively, the Bills will need to do a better job of applying pressure to Jets' rookie quarterback Geno Smith, who went 16 of 29 for 331 yards and two touchdowns Week 3.
"I see him getting better and better each week," Marrone said of Smith. "And doing a good job and he's someone that we're going to have to face for a long period of time and will always be a challenge for us."
The Bills' defense wasn't able to get to Smith for a sack the first time they played, but were able to force him to throw a pair of interceptions. In order to get Smith to make mistakes today, the Bills will need Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes to get a good rush off the edge and apply pressure.
"I think (Smith's) in a great system now," Marrone said. "Not to say he wasn't in a great system in college because he did have a lot of production, but I think that he's in a great system and we knew he was a very good quarterback."