The New York Jets and host Buffalo Bills battle for the second time this season on Sunday, but the remaining weeks of the season will answer one big question: Will there be a third meeting in the playoffs?
It’s possible, and this Week 14 clash in Orchard Park, N.Y., likely will go a long way toward determining how high those odds are the rest of the year.
Heading into the game, Buffalo currently sits in the No. 1 spot in the AFC playoffs with a 9-3 record, which at the moment would earn the Bills the conference’s lone bye into the divisional round of the playoffs.
The Jets (7-5) currently hold the No. 7 seed — the final wild-card spot — a position that would earn them a matchup with Buffalo should the Bills stumble into the No. 2 seed.
Given that, it’s obviously going to be a game with huge playoff implications.
Buffalo controls its own destiny for the No. 1 seed in the AFC following Kansas City’s loss on Sunday in Cincinnati, but Bills head coach Sean McDermott insists there hasn’t been any change in his team’s mindset.
“Just kind of business as usual,” McDermott said. “Certainly focused on this Jets team, a team that beat us in the first go-round, so we’ve got to figure out a way to get it done this go-round.”
Buffalo enters on a three-game winning streak and has had an extra few days to prepare following a 24-10 win at New England last Thursday.
“This is when teams have to play their best football and continue to come together as a team,” McDermott said.
The Bills are seeking a little bit of payback after the Jets earned a 20-17 home win on Nov. 6, a game that saw Bills quarterback Josh Allen throw for two interceptions and no touchdowns.
While the Jets will once again try and slow down Allen, the Bills will likely be tasked with trying to deal with a different New York quarterback from the first meeting.
Since that first meeting, the Jets have benched Zach Wilson in favor of backup Mike White, who’s played well the last two weeks.
White threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns against Chicago on Nov. 27 before throwing for 369 yards in a loss at Minnesota last week, although White did attempt an unusually high 57 passes.
White has added some energy and playmaking to the offense for the Jets, whether it’s on short or deep throws.
“We feel like Mike can do both,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh said. “He can push it downfield. He can take his check downs. He’s capable of doing both. I’m not surprised. It’s just stuff he’s really good at, making the decisions he needs to make on game day to move the ball forward.”
The Jets actually outgained the Vikings by a 486-287 margin, but only scored one touchdown in six trips to the red zone.
The Jets hope to rectify that in their attempt to win for a second time over Buffalo.
“They’ve got Superman at quarterback, they’ve got a hell of a defense,” Saleh said. “They do as good of a job as anybody with situational football. … They are clearly a Super Bowl contender.”