NFL: Jets and Bills Battle for AFC East Supremacy

Al Dannity | Updated Nov 04, 2011

The Bills know wins in divisional games will be crucial for their playoff push, making Sunday’s home match-up with the Jets all the more important. Al Dannity says a fast-rising defensive star could win the day for Buffalo.

Dareus rising to the top It’s easy to focus on the offensive stars playing for Buffalo. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Fred Jackson are both having great seasons and deserve much of the credit for the Bills’ 5-2 record. In recent weeks however a rookie defensive lineman has made plenty of noise. Marcell Dareus, who was a monster for Alabama, had a slow start to his rookie season but exploded against the Giants and Redskins. Sacking John Beck isn’t the most difficult task in sports but Dareus’ play in both those games showed an extra bite to the Bills’ defense. Brandon Moore will be the man mostly tasked with stopping Dareus. The good news for the Jets is that Moore has played well in pass-blocking, meaning Mark Sanchez will probably stay upright. The worry for the Jets is in the run game, where Moore has been a massive liability. That could offer Dareus an opportunity to halt New York’s already stuttering ground attack.

Jackson will be the big focus With Steve Johnson about to embark on the first of two visits to Revis Island, the Bills will look to Fred Jackson yet again to be their primary offensive weapon. There simply isn’t a running back in the NFL playing as good as the former All-American (albeit at D-III level). Jackson’s virtues as a runner are well documented but his skills in blocking and receiving could prove invaluable this weekend. With Johnson almost certain to be a non-factor, Buffalo need to build their offense around other options. That’s where a multi-talented veteran like Jackson can make a huge difference.

The verdict This may be one of the few weeks where the Sanchize won’t be held at fault for New York’s woes. The running game, which hasn’t sputtered along problematically, could be in for a nasty shock on Sunday even by the Jets’ low standards. I like Rex Ryan’s team to play tight defense again but the Bills won’t need to put up a big score to come out on top here. Things may be different when they meet again in the Meadowlands but right now, the Bills have a big edge in this game.