Buffalo Bills (7-8 SU, 6-9 ATS) vs. New York Jets (4-11 SU, 5-10 ATS)
Week 17 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, January 1, 2017 at 1PM EST
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: BUF -6/NYJ +6
Over/Under Total: 44
In AFC East action from MetLife Stadium on Sunday in week 17, the Buffalo Bills take on the New York Jets. It's a meaningless game from a postseason standpoint, as neither team is in contention. But for the Bills, it's a chance to go to .500 in what's been an up-and-down season of disappointment. The Jets look to end on a positive note, coming off a 41-3 hammering to New England. Buffalo lost in overtime, 34-31, to Miami last week. Who can come up with the right recipe to finish the season in style?
The Bills seem to be showing a lot more fire than the Jets—that much is obvious enough. Granted, the season has been a letdown for a Bills team that has been poking their head tentatively into prominence for the past several seasons without ever turning the corner. And this was yet another season of that same dynamic—not quite being good enough despite some good signs. But they've continued to fight and despite losing 3 of 4 heading into week 17, they are still trying. Still, the Bills hit week 17 with their coach being canned, as Rex Ryan was canned on Tuesday. Still, between the two teams, the edge certainly goes to the Bills in overall team spirit.
The Jets seem all discombobulated and tearing apart at the seams heading down the final stretch of the regular season. They've lost 6 of 7, with their only win being an overtime win over the 49ers. In their last two games, they haven't even been close. They bear almost no resemblance to the team that still had hope in week two and delivered a 37-31 win to beat the Bills on the road. The locker-room seems a mess, with players carrying out personal grudges through the media. Head coach Todd Bowles was unavailable with health issues. And they just look to be phoning it in at this point.
With some remaining pride still left, the Bills' offense has been inconsistent, but dangerous—the top rushing team in the league. LeSean McCoy has been big this season and is still running hard late in the season. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor has chipped in a lot with his legs, as has Mike Gillislee. They are subdued aerially, with Taylor struggling to spark a passing-offense, with injuries and an overall lack of firepower, not to mention his shortcomings as a passer. Still, he hasn't been that bad, despite poor protection from his offensive line. He won't start, as old Buffalo starter EJ Manuel will get the nod in this game. The leading Bills receiver is Robert Woods with 570 yards. On again/off again receiver Sammy Watkins was huge against Miami, but is again questionable, as the talented receiver can't stay healthy. Still, with 64 points in their last 2 games, the Bills offense looks like it still has some wind in its sails.
The Bills defense has dealt with a lot of injuries and inconsistency this season and hasn't been particularly sharp of late. They are one of the worst-rushing defenses in the league and for the second time this season on Saturday, they gave up over 200 on the ground to Jay Ajayi. They continue to be tough against the opposing aerial attack, led by Stephon Gilmore (questionable), Ronald Darby, Corey Graham, and Preston Brown. They can make plays, rush the passer, and get after it, though they didn't exactly meet expectations this season.
The Jets haven't seen much go right this season. They showed some heart a few weeks ago when they battled back to beat the Niners in OT. But even the fact that they needed dramatics to beat a bad 49ers team and the fact that it's a highlight of their recent work speaks volumes. In their last two games, they looked half-dead. QB Bryce Petty (out) was hurt in the last game, as they again turned to Ryan Fitzpatrick, who promptly threw a few picks. The QB play has been awful, with the offensive line playing poorly. The only shining light on the team lately is Bilal Powell, who should have his moments against this dicey Buffalo run-defense. Otherwise, it's a disaster on this side of the ball, despite aerial talent like Brandon Marshall (questionable) and emergent receiver Quincy Enunwa.
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On the defensive side of the ball, it seems like there is a mutiny. The Jets' "D" just isn't showing up. Granted, they've had some tough offenses to play recently, but the resistance is waning. Most condemning is that a lot of their late-season shortcomings seem tied to effort. While some are still putting forth a credible and professional effort, there seems to be a lot of apathy on this side of the ball. And for that, there's no excuse. And even when things were going pretty well in week two, this defense still labored against Buffalo's offense.
Laying a number on Buffalo as a road dog at this point in the season is certainly not a move that would make one feel ultra-comfortable, especially with their coach being fired and a change at QB motivated by more front-office concerns. But it's hard to imagine this Jets team somehow finding the wherewithal to play a good game. They're at home against a division rival they already beat this season with a chance to at least show they're pros. But that's not going to be enough and while it almost seems to obvious, I'm banking on a depleted Jets team, as the Bills get the cover on the road.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Buffalo Bills minus 6 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Bills vs. Jets game from the comfort of your own home by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!