Rogers' EARLY Sunday SMACKDOWN
Buffalo vs. NY Jets,
01/01/2017 13:00 EDT,
Score: 10 - 30
Point Spread: -3½/-110 Buffalo
The set-up: The Bills fired Rex Ryan after last Sunday's 34-31 loss to Miami in overtime and interim head coach Anthony Lynn will lead the Bills into this Week 17 meeting on the road against the Jets. Ryan boasted of ending Buffalo's playoff drought (last appearance was back in 1999) but ends with a 15-16 record. Former first-round draft pick E.J. Manuel will be under center in the season finale for Buffalo, while the Jets will start Ryan Fitzpatrick. He takes over for Bryce Petty, who has made five starts on the season and left with injuries in three of them, including last week when he suffered a shoulder injury in a 41-3 loss to New England.
Buffalo: Lynn will make his head coaching debut against his former employer, as he coached the Jets' running backs for six seasons (2009-14), assisting Rex Ryan. The decision to bench Taylor, who threw for 3,023 yards with 17 TDs and only six interceptions, has little to do with promoting Manuel. He has played sparingly since entering the league in 2013 and has thrown just six passes this season. The Bills lead the NFL with an average of 170.8 YPG on the ground but LeSean McCoy (1,257 yards on 5.5 YPC with 14 total TDs) missed practice during the week due to an illness and may not play (my guess is, he will). WR Sammy Watkins (24 catches and two TDs in seven games), who battled through a foot injury to post season highs of seven catches for 154 yards last week but is listed as probable.
NY Jets: Fitzpatrick was 24-for-34 for 374 yards and a TD as the Jets knocked off the Bills 37-31 in the second game of the season to gain a bit of revenge for their loss to Buffalo the previous season that knocked New York out of the playoff picture. However, Fitzpatrick has become more a punch line of late, completing just 55.8 percent of his passes with 17 interceptions on the season. Also, many of New York's top skill position players are all questionable, including RBs Matt Forte and Bilal Powell who are battling knee injuries and WR Brandon Marshall who has a slew of injuries that may sideline him for the finale. The Jets are scoring only 16.3 PPG (30th) and are allowing 26.6 PPG (29th).
The pick: The Bills will miss the postseason for an NFL-high 17th consecutive year but they are a much better team than the Jets. Buffalo has won and covered five of the last six in this series, with that lone loss during the span coming back in that Week 2 game. That gives the Bills some revenge motivation and despite the team's sub-.500 record, the Bills have outscored opponents by 41 points. In contrast, the Jets’ scoring differential of minus-154 points is better than just the 1-14 Browns and 2-13 Niners. The Jets also have the worst turnover ratio in the NFL at minus-23. New York has forced only two turnovers since Week 8 and the team has the second-fewest sacks in the league (24). The Jets haven’t been this dysfunctional since the days of Rich Kotite and their last three losses have been by an average of 30.0 PPG. Buffalo is an 8* play.