The Buffalo Bills are trying to keep pace with the New England Patriots atop the AFC East. The New York Jets are attempting to stop a three-game losing skid and rekindle the magic that had them sitting tied for first place in the division earlier this year. What are we watching for when the two kick off at 8:25 p.m. ET on CBS, NFL Network and streaming on Amazon Prime Video? Here are five things:
- Kelvin Benjamin is shockingly a Bill after a wild last-minute trade from the Carolina Panthers on Tuesday. With only about 48 hours to prepare for the Thursday night tilt with his new team, will he play? Per general manager Brandon Beane, "that'll be up to Sean [McDermott] and coach [Rick] Dennison to decide." Odds are, if he does play, it'll be in a limited role as his knowledge of Buffalo's playbook will be minimal. Though it doesn't take a Microsoft Surface tablet full of NFL jargon to tell Benjamin to catch a jump-ball in the end zone when the Bills get down in the red zone. Seeing how the Bills use their new weapon could be the biggest thing to watch for in this one.
- Waching who will defend Benjamin, or any other Bills wideout for that matter, will be something worth eyeing as well. Cornerback Morris Claiborne (foot) has yet to practice this week and cornerback Buster Skrine has been limited because of a concussion. New York just traded for 49ers corner Rashard Robinson, but will he be ready for Thursday's clash? Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor has been better throwing the ball this season, completing 63.8 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns to just two interceptions. Against a banged-up Jets secondary, those numbers could improve.
- LeSean McCoy burned the Jets once already this season. In Week 1, the tailback ran for 110 yards on 22 carries and caught five balls for 49 yards in a 21-12 win over Gang Green. He's been hot lately as well, totaling 91 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries against Tampa Bay in Week 7 and 151 rushing yards and a score on 27 carries last week. The Jets rank No. 27 in the league in rushing defense, coughing up an average of 128.2 ground yards per game. This could be another big performance for the veteran tailback at MetLife Stadium.
- Matt Fortewasn't pleased withJets offensive coordinator John Morton after their loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. The tailback wanted the ball on the ground more in a game played in the driving rain. While no showers are expected for Thursday night in East Rutherford, Forte still likely won't be pleased if he gets just four carries again like he did last weekend. The Jets ran the ball a total of just 22 times in a game they led for a large portion of the time Sunday. How does Morton follow up that performance, especially knowing one of his veterans wasn't pleased with it?
- Robby Anderson is quietly becoming a go-to guy for Josh McCown. His six catches last week were a season high and his 104 yards were a career high. He has touchdowns in his last two games as well. The Bills have been very good in the secondary this season, with safety Micah Hyde leading the league in picks with five and cornerback Tre'Davious White playing at a Defensive Rookie of the Year level. Who will bend first in the matchup?