Pretty much every Thursday night NFL game this season has been ugly to watch, and maybe this Thursday's will too. That quick turnaround simply leads to sloppy football. But the matchup between the Bills and Jets should be pretty fun, at least leading up, because it's Buffalo coach Rex Ryan's return to the Big Apple for the first time since the Jets fired the blustery Ryan following last season.
Ryan has never been afraid to do or say what he wants. It's what makes him an interesting guy and good television. Already he is up to old tricks. Ryan this week named IK Enemkpali as one of the team captains for the game. Enemkpali made headlines in August while as a member of the Jets. He sucker-punched then starting quarterback Geno Smith, breaking Smith's jaw -- over a reported $600 debt -- and knocking him out of action for several weeks. Frankly, that worked out great for the Jets as Ryan Fitzpatrick has been very solid in Smith's place and has a hold on that job now.
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Enemkpali was immediately cut by the Jets and signed by the Bills. The guy isn't a regular and only plays on special teams, so Ryan is definitely thumbing his nose at the Jest franchise even though Ryan has said: "it's not a slap in anybody's face. It is not a sign of disrespect. It's just what we do."
Ryan said he has a tradition of designating players who are playing against their former teams as game-day captains. He did make former Dolphin Richie Incognito a captain against Miami last week; Incognito previously left the Dolphins under ugly bullying accusations.
Bills at Jets Betting Story Lines
This game is potentially vital for a wild-card spot because neither the Bills (4-4) or Jets (5-3) are obviously catching the unbeaten Patriots in the AFC East. Currently, New York holds the No. 5 spot with Buffalo at No. 7 and a half-game back of Pittsburgh. The Steelers are going to be without star QB Ben Roethlisberger at least for this week's game and maybe longer, so that could help both the Jets and Bills. Buffalo does appear to have the tougher schedule remaining with five of its final eight, including this one, on the road. This starts a three-game road trip (up next: New England). Also including this, the Jets have four at home and four on the road. The Jets visit the Bills in Week 17.
New York is off a too-close 28-23 win over the visiting Jaguars on Sunday. Fitzpatrick played through a torn ligament in his left thumb and completed 21-for-34 for 272 yards and two scores. But the Jets' formerly top-ranked running attack managed all of 29 yards on 28 carries. And that Jets' defense, also once the best in the NFL, was very shaky for a third straight game, allowing the Jags 436 total yards and seven plays of 25 yards or more. Over the past three games, the Jets are allowing 29 points per game and have given up 1,240 total yards. For the first time since 1986, the Jets have allowed a 300-yard passer in three consecutive games. Cornerbacks Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine have really been getting toasted of late. Even Darrelle Revis has looked mortal.
The Jets for sure will be without kicker Nick Folk and probably won't have Cromartie, safety Calvin Pryor or right guard Willie Colon due to injury. Safety Dion Bailey also is likely to sit. To replace Folk, who was placed on season-ending IR, the team signed former Texans kicker Randy Bullock. He was waived in September by Houston after missing a 43-yard field goal and an extra point in a Week 3 win over Tampa.
Buffalo came off its bye week and played one of its best games of the season Sunday in beating the Dolphins 33-17 to complete a season sweep. Ryan loves to run the ball first and foremost, and the Bills gashed the Fins for 266 yards on the ground. Both LeSean McCoy (16 carries, 112 yards, one TD) and rookie Karlos Williams (nine carries, 110 yards, two TDs) topped the century mark. Williams is the seventh player in NFL history to score a touchdown in each of his first five career games. Buffalo has the No. 2 rushing attack in the NFL (141.6 ypg), while New York is No. 1 against it (80.6 ypg).
Presumably, Revis will be locked on Buffalo No. 1 receiver Sammy Watkins here. Watkins has had an injury-plagued year but blew up for eight catches for a career-best 168 yards and a TD vs. Miami. Very quietly, Bills QB Tyrod Taylor is the No. 4-rated QB in the NFL and is completing a league-best 71.8 percent of his throws.
McCoy dinged his shoulder against the Dolphins but expects to play. Ditto Watkins (ankle). Defensive tackle Kyle Williams is probably sitting again.
Bills at Jets Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , the Jets are 2.5-point favorites (-115) with a total of 43. New York is -140 on the moneyline and Buffalo +120. On the alternate lines, the Jets are -4.5 (+150), -4 (+143), -3.5 (+135), -3 (+110), -2 (-120), -1.5 (-125) and -1 (-133). The Bills are 4-4 against the spread this season (2-1 on road) and 5-3 "over/under" (2-1 on road). The Jets are 4-3-1 ATS (2-2 at home) and 5-3 O/U (3-1 at home).
Buffalo is 4-1 ATS in its past five vs. the AFC East. The Bills are 0-4 ATS in their past four following an ATS win. The Jets are 4-0-1 ATS in their past five vs. the AFC East. They are 5-2 ATS in their past seven on Thursday. New York is 1-6 ATS in its past seven in November. The under is 4-0 in Buffalo's past four road games vs. teams with a winning home record. The over is 5-0 in the past five meetings in New York. The home team is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings.
NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Buffalo Bills at New York Jets Predictions
The weather for Thursday night in East Rutherford has it in the high 40s, but early periods of rain will be cleared out by then. Winds between 10-20 mph. I usually prefer the home teams in these Thursday games. Both sides will really want this for their own Ryan reasons, I'm sure. New York lost its final three games to Buffalo under Ryan. I think Buffalo wins straight up, but I'll take the 3.5-point alternate line to be safe. Go under.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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