It's never a good sign when a team starts making excuses before the game even takes place.
For the second time this season, the Jets will play the Bills coming off an extended break. While the first meeting, a 27-20 victory for Gang Green in Week Three, took place after the Jets played their previous game on a Thursday night, this Sunday's matchup occurs when they are coming off of a full bye week.
Buffalo Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon voiced his displeasure earlier this week regarding Buffalo's scheduling disadvantage. The Bills play six games this year against teams who have additional rest, the most of any team in the NFL, making Brandon's gripe valid.
Nonetheless, in a league where teams pride themselves on accountability and toughness, it's an odd move for a franchise to openly complain about something like this in the middle of the season. Even odder, head coach Doug Marrone is on board with the grumbling as well.
Buffalo might, however, have a legitimate beef as the bye week has allowed the Jets to be as healthy as they've been in weeks.
Wide receiver Santonio Holmes and tight end Kellen Winslow are expected to be in the lineup for the first time since Weeks Four and Five, respectfully. Holmes has missed the last month and a half with a hamstring injury, while Winslow was out serving a four-game suspension.
In addition to Holmes and Winslow, Geno Smith will also have a recovered Jeff Cumberland to throw to. Those three targets, combined with Stephen Hill and the return to Buffalo of an extra-motivated David Nelson, give the Jets the most complete look their offense has seen all season.
As much success as the Jets have had running the ball lately, it's fun to imagine what the passing game might look like with so many different options to throw to. Yes, it's a road game and Smith tends to struggle away from home, but he should be able to air it out a bit and give them a more balanced attack.
Unfortunately, leading receiver Jeremy Kerley won't be able to join the passing party as he will miss the game due to a dislocated elbow.
Just as the Jets are getting healthy, the Bills will be without their best targets. Robert Woods will miss Sunday's game with a sprained ankle, while Stevie Johnson's right groin injury is in all likelihood going to sideline him.
Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel returned to action last week after missing a few weeks with a sprained knee, and he'll need to be at full strength if he wants to avoid Gang Green's oncoming pass rush. Things might get ugly for Manuel if he has no one to throw to and nowhere to run from Gang Green's attacking front seven.
Buffalo's injury woes on offense should take a lot of heat off the Jets in coverage. What newly acquired safety Ed Reed will offer the Jets, and how much playing time he'll see, is still unknown, but going up against a weakened Bills offense should be a nice way for him to settle in.
The Bills and Jets both run the ball as much as any team in the NFL. But Buffalo could be in for a very long day facing the league's number one rushing defense.
This is a game the Jets need to win. Buffalo can whine all they want about how unfair their schedule is. The Jets are the better team and must play like it.
As making the playoffs goes from a fantasy to an attainable goal, Gang Green has to start winning on the road. Should they make the playoffs, the Jets probably won't play a single home game in the postseason.
If the Jets can't beat a below-average team dealing with injuries when they're as healthy as they've been all year, they might as well just stay home in January.