Week 10 Preview: Buffalo Bills at New York Jets

Josh Allen is practicing again, but it seems unlikely that he'll play against the Jets Sunday in New York.

Josh Allen does not believe this has become a lost season for him individually. In fact, he thinks his time on the bench, which was forced due to an elbow injury on his right throwing arm, has actually been a good thing for his development.

As he has sat for the last three full games, Allen has been given the chance to stay out of the line of fire and watch how things operate from the safety of the sideline. And that was the Bills’ original plan for him this year before their quarterback situation blew up in spectacular fashion.

Ideally, they would have preferred that Allen sit and watch free agent signee A.J. McCarron start the season, and then have Allen work his way into the lineup when the Bills felt he was ready, or, when they were realistically out of the playoff picture.

Instead, McCarron flamed out in the summer and was cut before the season, and when Nathan Peterman did Nathan Peterman things in the season opener, Allen was thrust into the huddle in the third quarter of that first game in Baltimore.

Now, one could make the salient argument that Allen isn’t learning a thing watching two incompetent quarterbacks, Peterman and Derek Anderson, running the worst offense in the NFL, but Allen disagrees.

“I don’t think it has affected me negatively at all,” he said of his inactivity. “I actually think it was kind of a blessing in disguise. I got to see a vet come in and control the offense the way it needs to be controlled. I got to see that from him and got to learn and sit back; experience the ups and downs of professional football without actually having to go through it. It’s definitely going to help out in the long run.”

Allen suffered the injury in Week 6 when Houston’s Whitney Merciless smashed his helmet into Allen’s elbow. The Bills were 2-3 entering that game, coming off a victory where Allen led them to a game-winning field goal in the final seconds to beat Tennessee.

They proceeded to lose to the Texans when Peterman threw a game-deciding pick-six in the final two minutes, and have lost every game since to the Colts, Patriots and Bears by a combined score of 103-20. In those three games, Peterman and Anderson have combined to throw seven interceptions and no touchdowns.

The season is now a lost cause, an audition for 2019 jobs, and the only pressing item left for the Bills is to get Allen back on the field and have him put whatever he has learned from the sideline to practical use.

“I felt like as I progressed throughout the season, I felt like the last two games I played in, I was playing good football,” said Allen. “I was putting the ball where it needed to be, making right decisions, keeping the ball out of harm’s way and we saw ourselves win against the Titans and be in the game late against Houston. Things were just starting to slow down for me, so I’m starting to get back out there and see if that can continue. With the help of (offensive coordinator Brian) Daboll and DA and the guys we’ve got in the room right now, I think it will.”

Coach Sean McDermott was asked if there was a chance Allen could play Sunday against the Jets in New York, and while he wouldn’t answer the question directly, it seems prudent for the Bills not to rush their franchise quarterback. He was able to return to practice and he’s throwing again, but the Bills’ bye week is coming up and the extra rest and rehab would probably be wise. Thus, he could return Nov. 25 against Jacksonville and have six weeks left in the season.

“Yeah, that’s certainly something that we discussed,” said McDermott. “We’ve talked about that. At the end of the day, our docs give us, really, whether that would help or not. That’s one of the factors that we’ve talked about.”

Of course, Allen wants to get out there as soon as possible, and this would have been a fun week for him with the Bills playing the Jets, who are quarterbacked by one of the other top 10 draft picks in 2018, Sam Darnold. Now, Darnold is reportedly going to miss the game due to a sprained foot, so it looks like Peterman vs. Josh McCown.

“It’s frustrating not playing for me,” said Allen. “I’m a competitor and I’m sure a lot of people who don’t get to play because of an injury, whether it’s their pride or their ego, whatever it is, they want to be out on the field. The reason I want to be out on the field is to help my team, whatever which way possible I can. When I can’t do that, it hurts me.”

SERIES HISTORY

This is the 115th regular-season meeting and the Bills lead the series 60-54. The Bills split with the Jets last season, winning on opening day at home in Sean McDermott’s coaching debut, then losing a Thursday night game at the Meadowlands 34-21 when they turned the ball over three times. Buffalo has lost three of the last four games to New York.

BY THE NUMBERS

1 – Team since 1940 that gave up 190 yards or less, and 11 first downs or less, and lost a game by 32 points. That would be the Bills last week. The two closest games to this statistical occurrence came in 1944 when the Redskins lost by 31 to the Giants, and in 1966 when the Eagles lost to the Cardinals by 31.

PLAYER NOTES

  • QB Josh Allen is now being called day to day by coach Sean McDermott as he tries to get back from an elbow injury that has caused him to miss three games. Still, it’s unlikely he’ll play Sunday against the Jets.
  • QB Derek Anderson remains sidelined by a concussion, did not practice Wednesday, and is probably not going to play Sunday, meaning another week of Nathan Peterman.
  • RB Chris Ivory suffered a shoulder injury Sunday and he did not practice Wednesday. His status will likely be questionable as the week progresses.
  • DE Trent Murphy remains out with a knee injury and did not practice.
  • LB Tremaine Edmunds is still in concussion protocol, though he did participate on a limited basis.
  • WR Kelvin Benjamin was limited with a knee problem.
  • WR Andre Holmes is nursing a sore neck and he had to be limited at practice.
  • TE Charles Clay suffered a hamstring injury and he was not able to practice.
  • CB Levi Wallace was elevated from the practice squad to take the roster spot of CB Phillip Gaines who was cut. Gaines was leading the NFL in penalty yards.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT

LB Lorenzo Alexander. At 35 years old, he is tied for the oldest player on the team, yet Alexander has been one of the Bills’ best performers. He is tied for the team lead with 4.5 sacks, ranks fifth in tackles with 32, and he has an interception, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble. All that on only 52.5 percent of the defensive snaps. Alexander is in the final year of his contract, but the way he has played, the contributions he makes on special teams (he has played 41.7 percent of all kicking team snaps) and the leadership he provides, the Bills would be wise to re-sign him next season to a one- or a two-year deal.

GAME PLAN

It looks like it’s going to be Nathan Peterman again at QB for the Bills, and that generally means trouble for an offense that is completely inept, even when Peterman doesn’t play. At least the Bills will have a chance because the Jets haven’t exactly been lighting the world on fire on offense with rookie QB Sam Darnold struggling mightily. Buffalo’s running game has been a major problem with LeSean McCoy in an epic three-game slide with 24 yards on his last 24 carries, and now, Chris Ivory may not be able to play with a shoulder injury, so look for the Bills to throw against a defense that has not rushed the passer very well.

On defense, the Bills jumped to third in the NFL in yards and yards per play allowed, but it is certainly hollow when they also rank 26th in points allowed, 20th on third down, and 20th in interception percentage. However, the Jets are having a tough time scoring. In their six losses to Miami, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Minnesota, Chicago and Miami again, they have averaged just 12.3 points per game and have not scored more than 17. With Darnold unlikely to play due to a foot sprain, the Jets will probably turn to veteran Josh McCown. Given that development, the Jets will most likely try to feed RB Isaiah Crowell, who is averaging 5.0 yards per attempt.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

Bills RTs vs. Jets DE Leonard Williams. Last week, the Bills rotated Jordan Mills and Jeremiah Sirles at right tackle because Mills has played terribly, though he’s not alone. They also rotated Vlad Ducasse and Wyatt Teller at left guard. Whoever plays RT, they will have their hands full with Williams who has three sacks and a team-high 11 QB hits.

Bills LB Matt Milano vs. Jets RB Isaiah Crowell. With Sam Darnold expected to miss the game, and RB Bilal Powell out for the year, Crowell becomes a major part of the Jets offense and they will try to get him involved early and often. Milano may not have injured LB Tremaine Edmunds next to him again, so the burden will fall to him to help keep Crowell contained at the second level and not allow him to break away.

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