1. Make Sanchez uncomfortable
The Jets' quarterback was the worst in the league against pressure last season, according to advanced statistics compiled by the website profootballfocus.com. Sanchez completed just 36.4 percent of his passes under pressure, the lowest among 24 quarterbacks who qualified. The Bills sacked Sanchez just once and got only three hits on him combined in two meetings last year, allowing him to complete 59 percent of his passes in two wins. In three preseason appearances, Sanchez was sacked six times in 15 drives but Sanchez completed 68.6 percent of his passes. The key for the Bills will be to limit the time he has to do that. The best way to do that will be to ...
2. Attack the right side
The Jets will start Austin Howard at right tackle today after trading the embattled Wayne Hunter to St. Louis for Jason Smith during training camp. Howard has made one career start - and gets to line up against Mario Williams. "Certainly it's going to be a huge challenge for anybody. With Austin, he hasn't had a whole lot of game experience, but we feel good about him," Jets coach Rex Ryan said. The Jets shouldn't be able to block the Bills' prized free agent one-on-one, so they'll have to keep a tight end or running back on that side to help.
3. Tame the Tebowcat
The Jets didn't keep their Wildcat package with Tim Tebow under wraps all preseason not to use it against the Bills. Jets coach Rex Ryan confirmed as much this week, telling the Buffalo media "of course we're going to run some." It wouldn't be a surprise to see Tebow on the field for 10 or 15 plays today. The Bills bottled up Tebow last Christmas Eve when he was with Denver, holding him to 34 yards on 10 carries. They'd sign up for similar numbers today. It wouldn't be a surprise to see the Jets use multiple tight end sets and return to the "ground-and-pound" approach that got them to the AFC Championship Game two straight years.
4. Stay out of third and long
One of the more intriguing matchups is the Bills' offensive line against the Jets' front seven. Both Fred Jackson (5.5) and C.J. Spiller (5.2) averaged better than 5.0 yards per carry last season. If they can approach that today, it will keep the Bills out of passing situations, leaving them less vulnerable to Rex Ryan's creative blitzes. The Jets have been tough to run on this preseason, giving up 90 yards per game, but their stud nose tackle, 325-pounder Sione Pouha, has a sore back and will not play. Still, with Mo Wilkerson, Kenrick Ellis and Coples, the Jets will present a challenge for a Bills' offensive line that's spent precious little time together during the preseason.
5. Jump ahead early
New Yorkers aren't known for patience. The Jets' first-team offense failed to score a touchdown in the preseason - the team had just one in four games - and the best way to put pressure on them will be to open an early lead. That would force the Jets to throw more than they'd like. Outside of Santonio Holmes and tight end Dustin Keller - who's not likely to be at 100 percent because of a hamstring injury - the Jets are shaky at receiver. Slot receiver Jeremy Kerley is probably the next best option, but he suffered a slightly torn hamstring on the first day of training camp and missed most of preseason. Rookie Stephen Hill and Chaz Schilens can fly, but can Sanchez get them the ball? He completed just two passes of 40 or more yards last season.
Neither team did much in the preseason, but that doesn't mean a lot. It feels like the Jets' window of opportunity is shrinking, while the Bills can open theirs significantly with a win. Prediction: Bills 20, Jets 17
1. Make Sanchez uncomfortable