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Bills welcome Jets with eyes on AFC East crown

Sportsnaut
Jan 2, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) leads his team onto the field before a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 2, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) leads his team onto the field before a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills look to clinch consecutive AFC East titles for the first time since winning four straight from 1988-91 when they host the New York Jets on Sunday.

Winners of three games in a row, the Bills (10-6) simply need to either defeat the Jets (4-12) or hope the New England Patriots (10-6) fall to the host Miami Dolphins (8-8) in order to claim the division title.

“We have an opportunity this weekend against a good football team in the Jets that (is) playing really well to take another step as an organization,” Buffalo coach Sean McDermott said. “That’s where our focus needs to be this week.”

The Bills have won three straight against New York, including a 45-17 road decision on Nov. 14.

Josh Allen, who threw for a season-high 366 yards and two touchdowns in that game, rushed for two scores in last Sunday’s 29-15 victory over Atlanta. The win over the Falcons clinched a third straight postseason berth for Buffalo.

“Winning is not easy in this league, and you need to celebrate it when you can,” Allen said Wednesday. “At the same time, we’re not just hoping to get into the playoffs — that’s not our goal. Our main goal at the start of the season is to give ourselves a chance to win the Super Bowl, and yes to get to the Super Bowl you have to make the playoffs. We have accomplished that goal, but we have loftier ones ahead of us.”

Stefon Diggs has proven to be Allen’s most trusted target. The wideout leads the Bills in catches (94) and receiving yards (1,144), while his nine touchdown receptions are tied with tight end Dawson Knox for the club lead.

Diggs erupted for eight catches for a season-high 162 yards and a touchdown in the previous encounter with the Jets.

Fellow wideout Gabriel Davis has four touchdown receptions in his last four games for the Bills, whose 28.5 points per contest are third in the NFL and 379.3 yards per outing fifth.

The Jets, in turn, are surrendering 29.8 points and 396.0 yards per game, both worst in the league.

Rookie Zach Wilson will get his first look at the Bills after missing the previous encounter with a knee injury. Wilson has been behind center in each of the last six games, leading the Jets to a 2-4 record.

Wilson threw for 234 yards with one touchdown in New York’s 28-24 setback to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday. He has not thrown an interception in each of his last four starts after being picked off 11 times in his first eight games.

New York versatile wideout Braxton Berrios had a season-high eight catches for 65 yards and scored two touchdowns (one receiving, one rushing) last week against Tampa Bay. Berrios is second on the team in receptions (46) and tied for third in receiving yards (431).

“I’ve got a long way to go, a lot to improve on, but the general consensus is I made good on my opportunities,” Berrios said. “It’s obviously tough when things don’t work out the way you think they’re supposed to. That goes back to putting your head down and working, and understanding that you’re trying to get to a place that is very hard to get to. There’s going to be valleys, there’s going to be hills. As long as you keep at it, good things are going to happen.”

Berrios (quad), however, joined rookie running back Michael Carter (concussion), defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins (knee), and offensive lineman Greg Van Roten (illness) and Chuma Edoga (ankle) in failing to participate in practice on Wednesday.

Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (knee) and offensive lineman Dion Dawkins (personal) did not participate in Wednesday’s walk-through practice for Buffalo.

–Field Level Media