1. Just go for it already. The New York Times reported last week that the Bills have faced fourth and 1 nine times this season – and punted or kicked a field goal on every one. That is absurd. Bills coach Doug Marrone’s job may very well be on the line. Does he really want to go down this way? Plain and simple, Marrone needs to get more aggressive. Even if it doesn’t work, fans will respect it. When Marrone was hired, the Bills sold him as a progressive coach. After 26 games, there is little evidence to support that.
2. Copy the blueprint. It might be a little too much to ask of the Bills’ defense to force six turnovers again, as it did in the first meeting with the New York Jets, but the ability to take the ball away will undoubtedly be a key to tonight’s game. Jets quarterback Michael Vick, pictured, has taken better care of the ball than he did after relieving Geno Smith in Week Eight against Buffalo, but the Bills should still have opportunities to create turnovers. Vick is always looking to extend the play with his legs, and that sometimes leads to opportunities to knock the ball away from him. A good example of what the Bills should look to do against Vick is Jerry Hughes’ forced fumble by Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill in Week 11. Hughes didn’t give up on the play, and chased Tannehill down from behind.
3. Attack the corners. The Jets have never really recovered from trading Darrelle Revis. They drafted Dee Milliner in the first round in 2013, but he’s out for the season because of a torn Achilles. In the Jets’ last game, they started Phillip Adams and Marcus Williams – two players who weren’t even in training camp with the team. The Bills exploited the Jets’ defensive backs in the first meeting, with rookie Sammy Watkins gaining 157 yards on just three catches. He needs to have another big game tonight. Watkins should be back to 100 percent from the groin injury that limited him in the past two games.
4. Embrace the adversity. NFL players are creatures of habit. The Bills’ daily schedule is broken down for them by the hour. Meetings, meals, practice, lifting weights … all of it is done in a routine. That, of course, was destroyed by last week’s massive snowstorm. The Bills were unable to practice Wednesday and Thursday. Coaches attempted to get a game plan to players electronically, but there is no doubt the team is at a competitive disadvantage because of the chaotic week. Buffalo is known for dealing with adversity, and the Bills need to take that attitude into the game. One way they can do so is to …
5. Tap into civic pride. Western New York is a special place because of the people who call it home. Events like last week’s snowstorm bring out the best in people and show why Buffalo is deservedly called the “City of Good Neighbors.” Tonight’s game will be a few hours for people to get together with friends and blow off some steam. While the game may not be in The Ralph, the Bills need to tap into the civic pride Buffalonians have and use it to carry them.
Outlook: The Bills probably shouldn’t win this game, but one big factor is working in their favor: The Jets simply aren’t very good.
Prediction: Bills 20, N.Y. Jets 17