Thursday Night Football Breakdown
We’re introducing a new recurring feature here that will (hopefully) allow our readers to compare the differing perspectives of our editors. We felt like the NFL’s least popular national showcase game would be a good subject for this because: 1- it’s on national TV so access is simple, 2- it doesn’t contend with other NFL games in its time slot, 3- TNF often sucks so we’re helping give you a reason to watch. Let the SportsIntel editors help you turn the page to November football.
November 2, 2017: Buffalo Bills (5-2) @ New York Jets (3-5); Line: Bills by 3
Brad’s Take: Devotees to Thursday Night Football will no doubt remember the “color blind” game from 2015. Nike’s “Color Rush” uniforms had both teams decked out in their dominant shade from head to toe and the resulting imagery just about caused a national crisis. As I wrote earlier this year, I am actually a secret fan of the Color Rush uniforms, so I think it will be kinda funny to see how this looks on screen. As for the game itself, I think we have to diagnose the surrounding circumstances and trends. 1- Despite what I have been saying for two months, the truth is that road favorites on the short week are 2-1 this year (Rams over 49ers 41-39, Pats over Bucs 19-14, Chiefs lost to Raiders 31-30). Despite the record straight up, no road favorite has covered the spread though. Look for this to be a one-possession game. 2- Recent form favors the Bills. Buffalo won a fairly dominant game against the Raiders last week while the Jets lost a close home game to the Falcons. 3- Health is always a factor on TNF. I mean we barely had time to see an injury report for the week and it’s already time for two of the teams to get back out there and give us a show. Muhammad Wilkerson will likely be a no-go for the Jets, which favors the Buffalo running game greatly. Overall health advantage: Buffalo.
Having said all that, the player I am interested in watching on TNF is Buffalo’s Tyrod Taylor. The 7th-year QB has his team winning and is playing . . . ok . . . according to the stats. Let’s all use this national spotlight game to acquaint ourselves with the former-Hokie and the team with the least passing yards in the NFL this season!
Danny’s Take: The AFC East has thus far been surprising. The Patriots were expected to coast through the AFC while the rest of the division were expected to finish below .500. The Bills have surprised everyone with a 5-2 start and fielding one of the leagues best defense while the Jets have managed to exceed their predicted win total for the entire year. Both teams are have surprisingly similar stats when it comes yardage, however the Bills have a decidedly better point differential.
The Bills are the better team in this match up, but they have struggled on the road. The Jets have been competitive in their last several contests at home so expect them to play this one tight. The Jets ability to defend the run will make this game closer than the experts think, but they won’t have enough offensive fire power to pull out the win.
If I had to make a pick, Bills 20-18 over the Jets.
Chris’s Take: I’d love to go against the grain here, but this match-up boils down to Josh McCown and the Jets receiving corps versus the Buffalo Bills secondary. While McCown and the Jets have been a refreshingly tough team to face off with each week, they’re still not a football team capable of breaking .500 on the year. Their offense has played above their level in my opinion, possibly because of all the tanking talk in the off-season, and while their defense has played well, it’s not nearly as good as the Bills. LeSean McCoy and Tyrod Taylor should find success against the Gang Green, while McCown will likely struggle against Micah Hyde and company. McCown’s thrown seven interceptions this year, and the Bills are one of the top teams in turnover differential having forced multiple turnovers this season including last week in their outing against Derek Carr and the Raiders. The Bills are just as annoyed by all the tanking talk, so no edge there, and I like the defensive toughness they’ve brought to the field since day one. Their pickup of Kelvin Benjamin leads me to believe their pushing all the chips in moving forward and hope to compete come playoff time.
We’re not doing picks necessarily, but I would say the Bills win 24-14 this week. They’ve only allowed 20 points once this season and I don’t think the Jets are going to change that.