Strug­gling ri­vals square off

Losses, ugly of­fences, QB un­cer­tainty mark Bills-Jets matchup

The Expositor (Brantford) - - SPORTS - DEN­NIS WASZAK JR. THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

EAST RUTHER­FORD, N.J. — Even the most die-hard of Bills and Jets fans might have a tough time get­ting fired up about this one.

Strug­gling of­fences, quar­ter­back ques­tions and los­ing streaks are the ugly story lines mark­ing the lat­est matchup of AFC East ri­vals, the first of their two meet­ings this sea­son.

“It’s the NFL and any­body can be beat in this league,” Jets safety Ja­mal Adams said. “You’ve def­i­nitely got to show up each and ev­ery Sun­day. It doesn’t mat­ter what the num­bers are.”

Well, they aren’t very good — for ei­ther side — when it comes to of­fence.

The Bills (2-7) have the 31stranked over­all unit and have been deal­ing with a quar­ter­back carousel all sea­son, and were try­ing to fig­ure out late in the week where it would stop this time.

Rookie Josh Allen has missed three games with a sprained right throw­ing el­bow, vet­eran Derek An­der­son is in con­cus­sion pro­to­col and has been ruled out of Sun­day’s game, and turnover­prone Nathan Peter­man has been healthy but in­ef­fec­tive, to put it mildly. He com­pleted a ca­reer­high 31 passes last week against Chicago, but also had three in­ter­cep­tions in the 41-9 rout by the Bears.

It has been a prob­lem all sea­son no mat­ter who has been un­der cen­tre for the Bills, who have lost four straight. They have scored two touch­downs in their last four games, and been outscored 103-20 in its last three.

“Well, you know, the re­sult, ob­vi­ously, is not what we want it to be on the of­fen­sive side,” coach Sean McDer­mott said. “We’ve got to con­tinue to find ways to cre­ate things, to cre­ate sep­a­ra­tion, to cre­ate wins in the 1-on-1 game, whether it’s the run game or the pass game. You al­ways look at your­self first. I ex­pect my­self and our coaches to look at our­selves first, and I ex­pect the play­ers to look at them­selves first.

“Col­lec­tively, though, we have to do a bet­ter job.”

The Jets (3-6) know the feel­ing.

Todd Bowles’ bunch has echoed those sen­ti­ments dur­ing the team’s sec­ond three-game skid of the sea­son.

“We’re kind of re­al­iz­ing that it’s a time to come closer to­gether as a team, as a fam­ily and as a brother­hood,” de­fen­sive line­man Leonard Wil­liams said. “When times are start­ing to get hard, that’s when we’ve got to face ad­ver­sity arm in arm and face it as a team.”

It ap­pears they’ll have to do it with­out rookie Sam Darnold, who is deal­ing with a foot strain that could side­line him a few weeks. Darnold leads the league with 14 in­ter­cep­tions, so 39-year-old Josh McCown might be what the Jets need to get things back on track for the league’s 29th-ranked of­fence.

“I’ll go out and ex­pect to play to my stan­dard and to the stan­dard of this foot­ball team,” McCown said, “and win a foot­ball game.”

Here are other things to know about the Bills-Jets matchup at MetLife Sta­dium:

The real McCoy?

Bills run­ning back LeSean McCoy is off to the worst start of his ca­reer with just 267 yards rush­ing and has yet to score.

He had 10 yards on 10 car­ries against the Bears, and hasn’t been any­thing close to the dy­namic player he has been through­out his ca­reer. McCoy was men­tioned as a pos­si­ble piece in a trade lead­ing up to last week’s dead­line, but re­mains with Buf­falo.

Oh, snap!

The strug­gles of Jets cen­tre Spencer Long have epit­o­mized the New York’s prob­lems on of­fence.

Long has been try­ing to play through an in­jured right mid­dle fin­ger on his snap­ping hand, and things re­ally came to a head last week when he had sev­eral way­ward snaps out of the shot­gun. Bowles fi­nally pulled him for Jonot­than Har­ri­son late in the game, and Long could find him­self on the side­line again this week.

Fa­mil­iar face

The Bills were so des­per­ate for re­ceiver help they thrust Ter­relle Pryor on the field five days af­ter sign­ing him. That came two weeks af­ter the Jets cut him with an in­jury set­tle­ment be­cause of an ail­ing groin.

New York thought he’d be side­lined a while, but Pryor was back on the field last Sun­day and had two catches for 19 yards. He’ll have a chance to show the Jets how healthy he is Sun­day.

Eli re­turns

Sec­ond-year run­ning back Eli­jah McGuire had 30 yards on seven car­ries and three catches for 37 yards for the Jets in his sea­son de­but af­ter spend­ing the first eight games on in­jured re­serve with a bro­ken foot.

McGuire has stepped into the dual-threat role usu­ally held by Bi­lal Pow­ell, who’s out for the sea­son with a neck in­jury.

“Re­ally nice,” of­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor Jeremy Bates said of McGuire’s play. “I was re­ally fired up about him last year. A true pro, re­minds me of Kevin Faulk. I thought he played very well.”

Bright spot

Buf­falo’s de­fence ranks third over­all in the NFL, in­clud­ing third against the pass and 11th against the run.

The Bills were done in by of­fen­sive turnovers last week against the Bears, but they al­lowed only 190 yards of of­fence by Chicago. It was the fewest al­lowed since 103 in a 19-0 win vs. Mi­ami in 2013. It was also the fewest in a Bills loss since a 20-6 de­feat at Bal­ti­more in 2004.

AP FILESBuf­falo run­ning back LeSean McCoy car­ries dur­ing a game last month in Or­chard Park, N.Y. Two strug­gling AFC East ri­vals with un­cer­tain quar­ter­back sit­u­a­tions square off when the Bills and New York Jets meet Sun­day.

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