Statement Game

The Bills lost a divisional game to Miami last weekend. This week they have another tall task with Brett Favre and the Jets coming to town. BFR's Ian Smith says the Bills need to step it up in order to stay atop the AFC East. Read his full column inside...

The Buffalo Bills are 5-2 and sitting pretty atop the AFC East Division, and are in contention to seize a playoff berth for the first time since 1999.

Sounds like something your crazy uncle would say. But alas, what could be deemed insane is fact.

With the midseason point of the NFL in sight, the Bills are playing solid bend but don't break, down-to-the-wire football. The excitement has stirred the city of Buffalo, and consequently, every home game for the rest of the season has been sold out.

But putting pandemonium aside, the team has their work cut out for them.

Coming off of a 25-16 loss to the Miami Dolphins in south Florida, the Bills travel back home to get a taste of the feast or famine New York Jets. At 4-3, the match-up could wind up as a good ole fashion shootout at the Ralph Wilson Corral.

Only averaging 230 yards passing per game, New York quarterback Brett Favre has not played up to his own standards this season. However, with a wounded Bills secondary coming off of a "pass whooping" (compliments of Chad Pennington and Ted Ginn, Jr.), the wiley veteran surely licked his chops while he was in the film room this week. And Brett Favre still has the firepower; just ask the Arizona Cardinals defensive backs. In week four, Favre torched Arizona, throwing for 289 yards and six touchdowns.

If the New York Jets are going to steal a win in Buffalo, the 39 year-old gunslinger has to have his fingerprints all over the Jets box score.

Trent Edwards may have something to say about a Jets win. The second year Bills quarterback has exceeded the expectations of many and continues to mature as the season progresses.

Unlike his opponent, Favre, Edwards has played quite conservatively and patient, taking what the defense has given him so far this season. Edwards has completed 67.9 percent of his passes this season, whereas Favre has completed 61.6 percent of his. And through seven games, Favre has thrown 11 interceptions to Edwards' three. Sure the Jet veteran has three times the touchdown passes (15 to Edwards' five), but with a defense that gives up 24.3 points per game, a high-powered offense is a necessity in winning.

Edwards is a dissector of defenses, the scalpel is his tool; Favre is a slasher of defenses, and the double-edged sword is his.

Plus, the arsenal at Trent Edwards' disposal is good and plenty, and with a future Pro-Bowl receiver in Lee Evans to throw to, the Stanford graduate's statistics are bound to soar.

Although the quarterbacks are the stories of the game, the running attacks of both teams will be crucial in a team victory. Sunday's game will feature a test of dynamic one-two punches. The tag-team of Thomas Jones and Leon Washington for the Jets will be a combination of grit and speed, as Jones is averaging 4.4 yards per carry with four touchdowns on the year, and Washington has scored twice and is the third leading receiver on the team with 22 receptions.

The Bills tandem of Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson are almost too good to be true. Throughout the season, where Lynch has left off, Jackson has picked up.

Lynch is having a modest year in terms of yardage, but is pounding the ball in the end zone more often than not. He already has six touchdowns this season, one shy of matching his mark from last year. Lynch has been the go-to-guy inside the 10-yard line for sure. Throughout the past few seasons, the Bills have been a team forced to settle for field goals rather than touchdowns, due to their inability to score in the red zone. Since the arrival of Marshawn Lynch, that has been a different story.

Fred Jackson has been the epitome of a solid pass-catching running back, averaging three catches a game, averaging 8.6 yards per catch.

Both equipped with elusiveness and quickness, Lynch and Jackson are threats to score from any point on the field.

Week nine's game between the Bills and Jets should be an offensive explosion from both sides. The Bills offense must slowly erode the defense of the Jets with long drives and numerous first downs, striking deep when the time calls for it. The Jets must score on a big play or two and play above average defense and special teams.

Regardless of the outcome, the AFC East picture will change. This is another statement game for the Bills, and can almost be classified as a must win if they want to have sole possession of first place, and prevent the New England Patriots from claiming a sixth-straight division title.

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