The Jets’ superlative defensive tackle Quinnen Williams Credit: Bill Moore photo

Twice this season, the Jets have proven they are on par with the Buffalo Bills, a team that ahead of the NFL’s opening week many prognosticators picked to be the eventual Super Bowl champions. At 10-3 they are the AFC’s No. 1 seed entering this Saturday’s Week 15 matchup with the Miami Dolphins at home. To the 7-6 Jets, the Bills serve as a measuring stick as to where they are and how close they have become to being a title contender.

Their record may not reflect it, but the Jets have the makeup and talent to compete with the league’s best and themselves be looked at in the same vein. After defeating the Bills 20-17 at home at MetLife Stadium on Nov. 6 in Week 9, they fought them hard last Sunday in Upstate New York before falling 20-12. 

The Jets aren’t celebrating any moral victories, not when they are deep in the hunt for a playoff spot, but once again they demonstrated toughness and resilience, two requisite characteristics for a team endeavoring to be a title contender. The defeat dropped them to the No. 9 seed in the AFC as the top seven teams in each conference make the playoffs. Although the New England Patriots (No. 7) and Los Angeles Chargers (No. 8) are also 7-6, they both have better records against conference opponents. 

The Jets are also fourth in the AFC East behind the Bills, 8-4 Miami Dolphins and Patriots. But Jets head coach Robert Saleh is unbowed and believes they will have a rubber match with Bills in the postseason. 

“We’re going to see these guys again,” he said to the media after the game with conviction. 

The Jets and Bills both found it difficult to generate offense on a wet and slippery field at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park. The Bills led 7-0 at halftime and took a 17-7 lead into the fourth. The Jets held the Bills to just three points in the final period but only had a field goal and safety on a blocked punt by defensive end Jermaine Johnson with 7:30 to go. 

Starting quarterback Mike White was knocked out of the game twice by the Bills defense but came back in both times to try and rally the offense. The Jets have lost four of their last six games by an average of only 6.25 points. They will host a hot and rising 6-7 Detroit Lions team this Sunday who started the season 1-6 but are 5-1 since Week 9. 

“I just have so much faith in that locker room. So much faith in the coaching staff. So much faith in everybody that is involved day to day,” said Saleh. “I don’t think there is a guy in that locker room who doesn’t think we are capable of so much more.”

A personal milestone was set by the Jets wide receiver Garrett Wilson, whose six catches for 78 yards moved him in front of Keyshawn Johnson for the most receiving yards in a single season in franchise history. Wilson has 868 yards while Johnson had 844 in 1996.

“That means a lot,” said Wilson about the mark. “It would have meant a whole lot more if we win this game. I can’t lie. I was expecting to get that. It’s about winning. I want to win.”  

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