|Date of game: 11/24/2014
NFL Preview - N.Y. Jets (2-8) at Buffalo (5-5) (ET)
(SportsNetwork.com) - Detroit is only a stone's throw away from Flint but Jackie Moon's "Let's Get Tropical" marketing slogan is certainly not an apt description of the Motor City.
Unless of course you are comparing it to Buffalo.
Motown will become the temporary home for the displaced Bills on Monday as heavy snowfall in Western New York has forced the NFL to move Sunday's scheduled contest between the Jets and Bills to Detroit.
The league said Thursday in a statement announcing the decision that public safety concerns over the ongoing weather emergency in the Buffalo area led to the rescheduling.
"As mentioned earlier today, public safety resources in western New York must be fully available to deal with the recovery from the storm," the NFL said. "We continue our discussions with the team and the Red Cross on ways the NFL can support the community through this weather disaster."
Ford Field was available on Sunday but the game was pushed back a day to allow the Bills as much time to practice as possible. The team has been unable to practice this week due to the lake-effect storm that has dumped from six to seven feet of snow in the area and will use the Lions' practice facility.
"We are pleased to be hosting the Bills and Jets for their game Monday night," Lions president Tom Lewand said. "While our thoughts are with the people of the Buffalo area during this difficult time, our team at Ford Field will do everything we can to be good hosts to their team this weekend."
The Lions' stadium also hosted a 2010 game between the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings after the roof of the Metrodome in Minneapolis collapsed under the weight of snow.
"It wouldn't affect us," Jets coach Rex Ryan said earlier Thursday. "We'd just aim our plane in a different direction, I guess."
Bills coach Doug Marrone and his staff have been living at the Bills' headquarters since Tuesday.
"The logistics are very difficult," Bills president Russ Brandon admitted. "We've had a lot of brainstorming sessions, and really trying to target all of our guys that are in very difficult situations. Some of the guys have been in apartment complexes that are not plowed in any shape or form and very difficult to get out."
Brandon said the circumstances "certainly a disadvantage" for the Bills and at least some of the Jets expressed a similar disposition.
"It's called inconvenience," Jets linebacker Calvin Pace. "That's the word I would say. But I mean, you can't do anything about Mother Nature."
Mother Nature hasn't been the Jets only issue this season and when you're 2-8, there's a lot of time for what-ifs.
And that's been the most productive hobby for the Gang Green in recent days while fielding questions about whether their lost season would have gone a trifle differently had they pulled the trigger on a quarterback change - benching second-year man Geno Smith for veteran Michael Vick - a bit sooner.
Ryan was a steadfast defender of the scattershot Smith through the initial seven games of the season, before sending him to the sidelines after he threw three interceptions on eight passes in the first quarter of what turned into a 43-23 home loss to the Bills in Week 8.
Vick didn't do enough in the substitute role to engineer a rallying win - ultimately committing three turnovers of his own -- but he completed 18-of-36 passes for 153 yards and ran eight times for another 69 yards as New York compiled a per-rush average of 5.3 yards on the way to a ground total of 175.
"We were in the game and we put ourselves in a position to win the game, but it was all about turnovers," Vick said. "You can go through it and hope that it's not going to be the same."
The Jets ran for 139 yards the following week in a 14-point loss to Kansas City, then had 150 on the ground in a 20-13 upset of Pittsburgh prior to a Week 11 bye. Vick threw for two touchdowns against the Steelers, including a 67-yarder to T.J. Graham.
The ease of the victory - New York had a 17-0 lead at one point - has turned the attention to Ryan, and why he didn't make the switch at a time when it might have still given the Jets a chance for relevance.
"You can easily say, 'Oh, well, we should've done this,' now," Ryan said. "At the same time, I was comfortable in my decision, not just with Michael, but with the other ones as well. So, I'm not going to spend time looking back."
The defeat of the Jets got the Bills to 5-3 heading into their bye, but they're returned for consecutive losses to Kansas City and Miami that have left hopes for ending a 14-season playoff drought in jeopardy.
Quarterback Kyle Orton is probable with a toe injury and comes in off a 22- for-39 performance against the Dolphins for 193 yards and no touchdowns. The veteran replaced Buffalo's own iffy second-year signal-caller, EJ Manuel, before the Jets pulled the plug on Smith.
Orton threw for four touchdowns in the first game with New York.
Running back Fred Jackson remains questionable with the groin problem that held him to three carries for 10 yards against the Chiefs and forced him to miss the Miami loss.
"We need all hands on deck," Jackson said. "I need 100 percent for me to be out there and help my teammates. I think they want me out there. I want to be out there. I want to try to make some plays and get this thing turned around. We lost to two that we'll be fighting for position with, but there's always a chance. And anytime you have a chance, you're going to show up and fight. That's what I expect out of the guys in this locker room. And that's what I'm definitely going to do."
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Presuming he's able to take part, Jackson figures to be a pain in the groin for a Jets defense that habitually struggles to defend pass-catching running backs. Jackson didn't play in the initial matchup with New York, but he's got 37 catches for 300 yards in the eight games he has played - including multiple receptions in each of those appearances.
The Renaissance of Michael
Old No. 7 has shown off some young legs since taking the quarterback reins for the Jets, reeling off 126 rush yards, averaging 6.2 yards per carry and becoming the first NFL passer to reach the 6,000-yard career rushing milestone. A heavy lean on the run game could be a necessity given weather conditions, and recent QB foes Ryan Tannehill and Alex Smith combined for 41 yards on eight carries.
They're 2-8 and heading for little other than a locker-room housecleaning at the end of the season, but the Jets have shown some tangible signs of life since making Vick the starter and acquiring Percy Harvin.
Just where that rise intersects with the Bills' semi-regular free-fall in the second half of the season will determine New York's fate. But it says here that the ugly weather and the change in venue could yield an ugly win for New York.
Sports Network predicted outcome: Jets 20, Bills 17