Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Backup Bowl: JETS vs. Bills

The Week 17 matchup between the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills is one of more interest than originally speculated. The Jets have already clinched a playoff spot, and the Bills are only playing for pride, but we will see many backups on both teams trying to make a case for either an expanded role in the playoffs or a reason to have a job next season.

For the Jets, quarterback Mark Sanchez is slated to start despite a sore shoulder. He will probably start for at most a half, but I would not be surprised if he takes a seat much earlier than this. Mark Brunell and Kellen Clemens have been splitting the majority of the reps this week and will get a fair amount of playing time each. LaDainian Tomlinson should not be playing much this week. Shonn Greene will get plenty of carries in the first half, but expect rookie Joe McKnight to see the most field time he’s seen all season. I, for one, am really looking forward to seeing McKnight get extended playing time. He has played very well on special teams lately and has not looked bad on the few carries he has received. If he can break a big one and put up decent numbers, he may be in line for some change of pace carries in the playoffs. It’s always nice to have that extra weapon around. He’s also supposed to be a great receiver out of the backfield as well and could spell LT in that role.

On the defensive side, Shaun Ellis and Trevor Pryce are questionable, but I expect them to be given extra rest and should not be playing much if at all. Eric Smith is doubtful and will not play. Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie are dealing with leg injuries and may either be very limited or not play at all in this game to keep them healthy for the playoffs. Kyle Wilson, Drew Coleman, and Marquice Cole will see most of the cornerback action in this game, giving them a huge opportunity to prove themselves.

The Bills will likely be without quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick due to a knee injury that has kept him out of practice all week. If that’s the case, Brian Brohm will be making his second career start for the Bills. The Bills will be digging deep into their depth chart for some wide receivers this week. Steve Johnson will start, but David Nelson and Donald Jones, who have played more as of late, are listed as out this week.

This game will be much like a preseason game. Many backups will see extended playing time and neither team really needs to win this game. The Jets’ offense has been playing well lately and will look to stay sharp in the first quarter, but will take a seat shortly afterward to rest for their wildcard round matchup. The defense has struggled in the last few games and is the real concern for the Jets going into the playoffs. Part of this could be attributed to injuries and taking extra time off to heal could fix the issue. This game should be fun to watch and a nice preview for the Jets’ and Bills’ futures. It may not mean much, but I would love to see the Jets finish the season with 11 wins.

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