In recent years, the Jets have used the Bills as their personal punching bag, Grounding & Pounding Buffalo into submission.
But this year, Steve Johnson thinks it’s the Bills’ chance to shine. The Buffalo wideout even started a “Yes We Can” campaign a la President Obama inside the lockerroom in an attempt to rally his teammates.
Yes, the Bills are developing a Jet-like swagger.
“It’s our turn to show that we’re going to come in and try to take over this division and make this run for real,” Johnson said earlier this week before Sunday’s pivotal AFC East clash between the two rivals, who are separated by just a game in the standings.
The Jets looked like they turned the corner two weeks ago against San Diego, rediscovering their identity as a run-first, throw-second football team. But they know they haven’t won anything yet -- and can’t afford to take the 5-2 Bills lightly.
Still, the Jets feel like they’re still the team to beat.
“He’s very confident in his team, just like we are,” Dustin Keller said. “If you’re not confident, you shouldn’t even be in there. I don’t feel like he’s taking a shot at us, but at the same time we feel like it’s still our time. We still feel like we’re the team to beat.
“Obviously, at 4-3 everybody else isn’t gonna believe that, but people in this lockerroom do.”
Really? The Jets are still the team to beat?
“We had that three-game skid where we were losing,” Keller said. “We’ve been there, done that and recovered from it. So a lot of people are doubting us right now, but we know what we have to do to get back to where we need to be, and we’ve been good the last couple years, and I think we’re building on it. I think this is gonna be an even bigger year for us.”
While this Jets-Bills matchup may not merit a “must-win” label at this juncture in the season, it’s certainly a swing game. If the Jets beat Buffalo, the two teams get to the halfway mark 5-3. Lose, and the Jets would find themselves in a world of hurt, a .500 team with eight games remaining.
“I guess you could call it a statement game,” Keller said. “It’s a huge game to put us in a good position in the division. That’s the way we’re looking at it: one game at a time. And this one to this point is the biggest game of our season.”
Said Sione Pouha: “There’s no games worth losing. That’s about it, you know what I mean? Whether it’s a division game or whatever, you don’t go in there saying this is an acceptable game to lose. You approach every game like you’re gonna win it.”
Ex-Jet Damien Woody said the Jets may find out that they’re running into a “buzzsaw” on Sunday. The Bills will have the sellout crowd behind them, their offense is prolific and their defense has forced 18 turnovers -- tied for the highest total in the NFL. Also, the Jets are 0-3 away from the friendly confines of MetLife Stadium.
“It’s a big game for us, but we’re gonna go in there and try to get a win in front of a hostile environment,” Darrelle Revis said.
Woody summed it up best.
“The Jets need this game, and you better believe Buffalo is gonna be fired up. I can’t wait to watch this game,” he said.