If the New York Jets are ever to turn this season around, it has to start when they host the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
At 3-6 and riding their second three-game slide of the season, Gang Green cannot afford a loss to the only team below them in the AFC East standings — Buffalo is 2-7. After the Week 11 bye, four of six matchups are against teams at .500 or better. That includes a pair against the division-leading New England Patriots.
Read on for three storylines to keep in mind during Sunday’s game at MetLife Stadium.
Bowles’ last stand
Despite public support from player leaders like safety Jamal Adams, head coach Todd Bowles is firmly on the hot seat. Barring a stunning run down the stretch to compete for a spot in the postseason, his days patrolling the sidelines for the Jets appear numbered.
A loss to the Bills could accelerate such a move. In such a scenario, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Bowles let go as soon as late Sunday or Monday. That would give the team two weeks to regroup during the bye.
A win, on the other hand, would table such talk — at least until after the Jets host rival New England on Nov. 25.
Return of the Mac
For the first time this season, rookie Sam Darnold won’t be starting under center for the Jets. He’ll be held out Sunday as he deals with a foot injury.
Stepping in at quarterback is Josh McCown, the veteran who was a mild success as last season’s starter. Although Darnold has struggled of late, his role is in no danger, even if the 39-year-old reignites a stagnant Jets offense.
That’s certainly something that could come to pass. McCown tossed 18 touchdown passes, compared with nine interceptions in 2017, sporting a robust 67.3 completion percentage over 13 games. With the Jets having scored just three touchdowns over the past three games, the veteran can’t be much worse.
Statistically speaking, Bills quarterback Nathan Peterman is perhaps the worst quarterback of the last 35 years. His 9.2 percent interception rate is the worst for any quarterback (minimum 100 pass attempts) over that span.
Granted, rookie Josh Allen is the preferred starter, working back from an elbow injury, and fellow backup Derek Anderson is recovering from a concussion. Peterman isn’t starting because his team really wants him to; their options are limited.
The futility of the Buffalo offense, when led by Peterman, should allow Adams and the secondary to feast on the second-year passer. Even if McCown can’t get the offense into gear, perhaps the defense can create a pick-six or two.
Jets 31, Bills 7