Rex Ryan makes his much-anticipated return to MetLife Stadium on Thursday night when he guides the Buffalo Bills into a matchup with the host New York Jets in a key AFC East tilt. The bombastic Ryan was fired by the Jets in December following a 4-12 campaign – his sixth season with the club – and was scooped up by the Bills two weeks later.
Ryan told the media on Tuesday that he’s attaching no special significance to facing his former team. “What I’m telling you is the truth,” Ryan said. “But at no point was I like, ‘Oh, I have this one circled.’ Everybody knows me, I circle the Patriots. That’s what I do.” Ryan did managed to tweak the Jets by naming linebacker IK Enemkpali a team captain for Thursday’s matchup – a move that New York safety Calvin Pryor termed “kind of disrespectful.” Enemkpali was released by the Jets after breaking quarterback Geno Smith’s jaw during a locker-room skirmish in August.
TV: 8:25 p.m. ET, NFL Network.
LINE HISTORY: The Jets opened as 3-point home favorites and have been bet down slightly to the current number of Jets -2.5. The total has also been bet down, going from its opening number of 43 to its current 42.
Bills – DE M. Williams (probable Thursday, calf), WR S. Watkins (probable Thursday, ankle), RB L. McCoy (probable Thursday, shoulder), T S. Henderson (questionable Thursday, illness), T C. Kouandjio (questionable Thursday, knee), DT K. Williams (Late November, leg).
Jets – WR B. Marshall (probable Thursday, toe), WR E. Decker (probable Thursday, knee), DB B. Skrine (probable Thursday, shoulder), C N. Mangold (probable Thursday, neck), CB D. Milliner (questionable Thursday, wrist), RB B. Powell (doubtful Thursday, ankle), CB A. Cromartie (doubtful Thursday, thigh), S C. Pryor (out Thursday, ankle), G W. Colon (I-R, knee), K N. Folk (I-R, quadricep).
WEATHER REPORT: It could be a wet football game Thursday night in the Meadowlands. There is a 75 percent chance of rain at kickoff, but it should clear up as the night moves on. Temperatures will be in the low 50’s with a 10 mile per hour wind gusting across the field.
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Bills (-2) – Jets (-2) + home field (-3) = Jets -3
WHAT BOOKS SAY: “On Tuesday morning, we got a sharp bet on Buffalo +3, so moved Bills to current number of +2.5; This bet happened to made about 30 minutes before the news that LeSean McCoy, who is nursing a shoulder injury would be upgraded to probable. Sixty-two percent of bets and 65 percent of cash backing the Bills on the spread.” – Jerome Perry of topbet.
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “Aside from the Rex Ryan meeting his former team storyline, this contest will go a long way toward playoff possibilities for both squads. Bills are getting back to healthy while the Jets are a wobbly 1-2 after its surprising 4-1 start. The bottom line is the Jets have improved 3-net games this season as compared to the first eight games last season while the Bills have regressed 1-net game over the same span. Look for a triple revenge motive to come into play for New York tonight.” – Covers Expert Marc Lawrence.
ABOUT THE BILLS (4-4, 4-4 ATS, 5-3 O/U): Buffalo got some of its top players back coming of its bye week and ended a two-game skid with a 33-17 romp over Miami as quarterback Tyrod Taylor returned from a two-game absence and continually hooked up with wideout Sammy Watkins, who had eight catches for 168 yards and a score. LeSean McCoy rumbled for 112 yards and a touchdown – his first 100-yard game with the Bills – before hurting his shoulder in the fourth quarter, but Karlos Williams picked up the slack with 110 yards and a pair of scores on only nine carries. Buffalo had the league’s fourth-ranked defense last season but is lagging behind the Jets in all major categories.
ABOUT THE JETS (5-3, 4-3-1 ATS, 5-3 O/U): New York was near the top of the league in a number of defensive categories before surrendering 87 points in its last three games and barely avoided a third straight defeat by holding off Jacksonville 28-23 last week. Ryan Fitzpatrick, who played four seasons with Buffalo, is playing with a torn ligament in his left thumb but still threw for 272 yards and a pair of touchdowns last week despite the fact that leading wide receiver Brandon Marshall was slowed by an ankle injury. The Jets need to find a way to get running back Chris Ivory untracked – he has been limited to 43 yards on 38 carries the past two games – an average of 1.1 yards per carry.
* Over is 5-0 in the last five meetings in New York.
* Home team is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings.
* Bills are 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings.
* Over is 5-2 in the last seven meetings.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The public is giving the edge to the New York in this AFC East matchup, with 56 percent of wagers on the Jets. Fifty-six percent of wagers are also on the over.