Game Scout: Bills still searching for a 'W'

As bumbling Bills look for a win, the Jets eye a division title. Check inside for this week's game breakdown...

Buffalo Bills (6-7) at New York Jets (8-5)

GAME SNAPSHOT

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET

GAMEDATE: 12/14/08

SURFACE: FieldTurf

TV: CBS (Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf)

SERIES: 96th regular-season meeting. Bills lead 52-43 in a series that began in 1960. In the very first game between the old AFL rivals and each team's first game ever, the then-New York Titans defeated the Bills 27-3 before 10,200 fans at New York's Polo Grounds.

PREDICTION: Jets 27-16

KEYS TO THE GAME: QB J.P. Losman could get a second consecutive start with Trent Edwards unable to practice midweek. The offense's 163-yard output last Sunday was the team's worst in 37 games, and the Bills needs to give RB Marshawn Lynch a chance to be a factor early on. Edwards was sacked five times in the first meeting, and Buffalo doesn't need to expose Losman to a Jets defense that has 37 sacks. ... The Jets need to allow their veteran offensive line to control this game in the trenches and be committed to the ground game from the outset. QB Brett Favre lacks options with deep speed, so the Jets' passing game is predicated on quick throws and runs after the catch. WRs Jerricho Cotchery and Laveranues Coles combined for two catches for 15 yards last week, so Favre may need to try a deep shot or two early to keep Buffalo's corners from sitting on the shorter routes.

KEY INJURIES: Bills: Edwards (groin) appears unlikely to play; CB Jabari Greer (knee) is expected to play; DE Aaron Schobel (foot) is out for the season. Jets: WR Brad Smith (concussion) is uncertain.

FAST FACTS: Buffalo is 0-4 against the AFC East this season. ... Jets RB Thomas Jones is tied for single-season franchise records with 12 rushing touchdowns and 14 overall.

PERSONNEL NEWS

Bills:

--QB Trent Edwards sat out practice with a groin injury for a second consecutive day this week and isn't expected to play Sunday against the New York Jets. He's slightly improved over a week ago but still can't plant and throw the ball with authority. Even if he's feeling better by Sunday, Edwards will not have taken enough practice snaps to be ready to start, coach Dick Jauron indicated.

--QB J.P. Losman is expected to get his second consecutive start Sunday when the Bills play at the Jets. Trent Edwards is still nursing a bad groin injury, meaning Losman would get the call.

--C Duke Preston is working extra hard this week in preparation for Sunday's rematch with the Jets' Kris Jenkins. The nose tackle dominated play in New York's 26-17 win in Week 9 with five tackles, a sack and three QB pressures. Jenkins does have a hip injury but is expected to play.

--DE Aaron Schobel was placed on injured reserve as expected with a foot injury that has sidelined him eight consecutive weeks. He tore a ligament near the big toe in Week 4 against St. Louis and hasn't played since. Surgery hasn't been officially ruled out.

--CB Jabari Greer practiced on a limited basis again. He still may be a week away since suffering a knee injury.

--SS Donte Whitner, who missed Wednesday with an illness, returned to practice and should be fine for Sunday's game against the Jets.

Jets:

--DE Shaun Ellis won't be benched by the Jets for his arrest for possession of marijuana. However, it's quite possible he will receive a one-game suspension from the NFL next season.

--P Reggie Hodges, who is averaging 42.1 yards gross and 37.9 net in nine games since taking over as the Jets' punter, had a rough game against San Francisco, and has been put on notice by coach Eric Mangini. The Jets worked out veteran punter Scott Player this week, but didn't sign him.

--WR Brad Smith (concussion) didn't practice again Thursday and isn't expected to play against the Bills.

--SS Eric Smith (lingering effects from concussions) practiced full again Thursday and is off the injury report, and it's likely he will play on a limited basis against Buffalo.

--TE Dustin Keller, who is third on the Jets with 42 receptions, had a costly drop on third down against San Francisco, which drew the ire of coach Eric Mangini.

INSIDE THE CAMPS

Bills:

Buffalo's running game is ranked 21st in the NFL, averaging 108.2 yards per game. While not awful, it has not been enough to solve Buffalo's offensive problems.

So who's to blame?

"Put it on me," running back Marshawn Lynch told reporters crowded around his dressing cubicle. "I'm the feature back here and I don't feel, as a feature back, I've played it. I don't want to take anything away from our offensive line because ... of the extra work, the extra meetings we go through and the extra time we've been putting in to get it going. So I'm going to put that on me."

Lynch said that when he studies game tape, he could see little things he should be doing better. He mentioned being more patient allowing his blocks to form.

When it was suggested that he hasn't been used enough -- he carried the ball just 13 times in last Sunday's loss to Miami -- Lynch said that's not an excuse.

"That is 13 more carries than zero," he said. "Therefore I had opportunity."

Compared to 13 games a year ago, Lynch has carried the ball 62 fewer times. On the year, he has rushed 218 times for 875 yards and seven touchdowns.

Heading into Sunday's game at the Jets, Buffalo has no answers for an offense that has scored three points in each of the past two games after erupting for 54 against Kansas City.

In going 2-8 over their last 10 games, Buffalo is averaging 17 points and 274 yards and that's only because of the Chiefs mirage.

That Lynch spoke with reporters this week was news onto itself.

With the exception of a couple short comments made before the Bills played the Oakland Raiders, his hometown team, Lynch has boycotted the media since training camp, apparently angry over journalists covering his hit-and-run accident last June when his SUV struck a female pedestrian in downtown Buffalo. He pled down to a traffic violation.

"It's certainly not his fault," wide receiver Lee Evans said of Lynch taking full blame for Buffalo's running game woes. "The running game is struggling and that's on everybody. It's not just one person."

Jets:

When a sprawling Jerricho Cotchery made a 46-yard reception against New England last month, trapping the ball against the side of his helmet, it was replayed time and time again on highlights shows.

Good thing, because the Jets haven't completed any throws that deep since, by incredible or normal catches.

In fact, their longest gain on a pass since then was a 34-yarder by Leon Washington against Denver. But it came on a screen pass.

The Jets need to rediscover that aspect of their offense, because opposing defenses are now sitting on the slants and short routes, and those plays aren't as effective as they were a few weeks ago. Brett Favre hasn't had a touchdown pass in the last two games, both losses. The Jets (8-5) host struggling Buffalo (6-7) on Sunday.

Coach Eric Mangini, however, thinks the Jets can be successful without it.

"It's important to get it to the open receiver," he responded when asked if it was important to complete deep passes. "Whether it's downfield or whether it's a checkdown, our skill players have excellent catch-and-run ability."

Still, if the Jets could complete even one deep ball, that would loosen up the coverage a little bit. Favre almost connected with Cotchery in the first quarter at San Francisco, but not quite.

"A perfect example is (when) I threw a deep ball to Jerricho early in the game last week down the middle," Favre said. "You watch the end-zone film of it and it was so close. He ran a really good route. I made a really good throw, but we didn't mesh. I should have flattened it probably a little bit. Maybe he could have gotten a little bit of separation away from the guy, but he ran exactly like we had talked about. I threw it exactly where I wanted to. That's a play you don't practice that often."

As opposed to the shorter ones in the Jets' repertoire.

"I can throw a slant to Jerricho in my sleep," Favre said. "I can throw a slant to L.C. (Laveranues Coles) in my sleep. There are certain plays that you have to study more on film. That's where maybe I go back and watch last year's film and see how Jerricho ran those routes. Those are things that I do. Now, we may not run that route again. I don't know. That's probably, more than anything, what I have to continue to get better at."

It's possible that David Clowney, who had scoring receptions of 70 and 71 yards in the Jets' preseason opener, finally could make his regular-season debut. Wideout Brad Smith (concussion) is not expected to play against the Bills.

In the loss to the 49ers, Favre couldn't even complete short throws to Coles and Cotchery, who each finished with one reception. But Coles isn't about to ask for more throws his way.

"I think our coaches are doing their best right now to try to find ways to get the (wide) receivers involved," Coles said. "That's pretty much all you can do. From our perspective, we're doing everything they ask us to do as far as the route-running and doing the best we can as individuals.

"I think (the coaches) have got enough pressure dealing with the media and everything that's taken place," he added. "I think to get any (suggestions) from me right now, I don't think would be real productive."

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