Enemy Intelligence: Last week’s Buffalo Bills game

The New York Jets are coming off a 28-24 road loss to the New York Jets. The Bills took a 24-21 fourth quarter lead, but Mark Sanchez’s fourth touchdown pass of the game, this one to Santonio Holmes, with 1:01 left to play gave the Jets the win.

What I saw from Buffalo that game, and the others of theirs I’ve seen, after the jump.

  • Ryan Fitzpatrick is very much a system quarterback. He’s far from the best quarterback the Titans have faced, but at his best he tends to throw very accurate short and intermediate passes on plays that are well-designed by Chan Gailey. He’s not really a vertical downfield passer, and if he does throw downfield, then barring broken coverage the Titans need to try to take advantage of it.
  • Before Fred Jackson went out for the year, C.J. Spiller from what I saw to be more of a slot receiver and maybe making the Eric Metcalf move. The Jets aren’t bad at run defense, but concentrating on Spiller, he didn’t do anything dynamic between the tackles. Not terrible, but nothing special. On the perimeter, he can use his speed to get from point A to point B quickly. Aside from one wheel route to convert third down, he was not a factor in the passing game.
  • Stevie Johnson is one of those receivers I have a hard time saying something interesting about. He’s good, big enough, and a matchup threat, but I’m not sure what his exceptional qualities are, aside from maybe “being able to do well against Darrelle Revis.” The Titans will need to play good defense against him, but I’m optimistic they can.
  • Really, aside from Johnson, I’m not sure if any of Fitzpatrick’s targets particularly concern me as manbeaters. I’m more worried about Fitzpatrick’s ability to find them and stick the ball in tight holes. If I had to pick one player, though, it’d be tight end Scott Chandler. He’s not a high volume or particularly explosive guy, but the Titans will need to play smart and disciplined defense (*cough*Akeem Ayers*cough*) or else they may have issues with him.
  • Fitzpatrick has only been sacked 15 times all year, and the Bills rank just ahead of the Titans in FO’s Adjusted Sack Rate. The line isn’t great, but they’re good enough, certainly better than they used to be, but that’s more a product of Fitzpatrick’s willingness to throw the ball away and an offense designed to get the ball out quickly.
  • Joe in our Q&A this week was kind of disappointed with Marcell Dareus, but with the injuries to Kyle Williams and Shawne Merriman, he looks like the best player in the Bills’ front seven. Granted, that’s maybe not as lofty an honor as “best player in the Titans’ defensive front seven”, but it is something. Really, they don’t rush the passer or stop the run well.
  • Remember how Jairus Byrd had a ton of interceptions as a rookie? FO charting stats showed that was mostly because he was picking off overthrown passes playing deep safety. If he’s having a big impact (tough to tell against an offense as limited at QB as the Jets), it certainly hasn’t been as apparent in my viewing. I never bought that George Wilson was having a DPOY-type season, but if I had to pick a safety to miss this week’s game, he’s the one.
  • The rest of the secondary won’t necessarily have brain farts, but they’re definitely beatable by good plays.
  • Overwhelming, the Bills look to me like the epitome of “just a guy.” They’re really limited on offense, do their best to take advantage of coverage busts, and when they were successful early in the year (like when they beat the Patriots), they were getting lucky with tipped balls by the defensive line turning into interceptions.

The one game I’d mention is the Cleveland game. As I indicated in my recap, that was really a game decided by a couple big plays that went one way or the other. Except for those plays, that would have been about a 13-10 game. This feels like it could be the same kind of contest. If the Titans play at their best, which includes CJ running like he did last week and not the previous ten games, this could be a good Titans win. Playing in Buffalo, though, I think the Bills should be about a 1 or 1.5 point favorite. That’s slightly lower than the actual line of -2, but close enough for unpaid blogger work.

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