Division battle in NY

A quarterback change can sometimes spark a team, as it has with the Buffalo Bills. The New York Jets have decided they're not quite ready to go in that direction.

Trent Edwards, facing the team against which he made his first NFL start, looks to lead the Bills to their third win in four games since taking over at quarterback as they meet Chad Pennington and the woeful Jets on Sunday.

Edwards is officially the starter for Buffalo (2-4) after winning two of three games while filling in for J.P. Losman. Losman's left ankle has improved, but coach Dick Jauron has decided to stick with the rookie.

"He is poised. He has a presence about him," Jauron said. "He doesn't appear to rattle, even on game day. ... He is a mature young quarterback, but he's going to make his mistakes."

Edwards, a third-round pick in April's draft, completed 22 of 28 passes for 234 yards and a touchdown while throwing one interception as the Bills beat the Jets 17-14 on Sept. 30 in his first NFL start.

After averaging just 8.0 points in three games with Losman at quarterback, Buffalo has scored 20.0 per game since Edwards took over.

Edwards struggled against Baltimore last Sunday, going 11-of-21 for 153 yards and an interception. The Bills, however, won 19-14, with Edwards leading five scoring drives against a Ravens defense that had allowed a combined 10 points in its previous two games.

Edwards has completed 66 percent of his passes for 563 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions since becoming the starter. Buffalo remains inconsistent on offense, but has been more productive with Edwards, holding the edge in time of possession in each of the last three games.

New York (1-6), meanwhile, is sticking with Pennington as its quarterback despite four straight losses as many fans and members of the media call for promising second-year signal-caller Kellen Clemens to start.

Pennington, however, isn't getting nearly as much support from coach Eric Mangini as he had earlier in the season. Mangini waited until Wednesday to announce Pennington would keep his job, two days after saying he would evaluate the entire team.

"I went back through the tape, looked at it and felt very good about the decision-making process," Mangini said, referring to Pennington's performance in New York's 38-31 loss to Cincinnati last Sunday. "There were quite a few plays that I really liked."

Pennington had one of his better games against the Bengals, completing 20 of 31 passes for 272 yards and three touchdowns. The eight-year veteran, though, threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown in the final minute.

"At 1-6, none of us are solidified in our jobs," Pennington said. "That's how it is when you are facing a losing streak. When you're 1-6, I think everyone is being evaluated from the top down. We're all on a pressure cooker."

Pennington has thrown for 1,211 yards, nine touchdowns and seven interceptions this season. All of his INTs have come in the Jets' last four games.

In New York's first matchup with Buffalo, Pennington completed a career-high 32 passes on 39 attempts for 290 yards with a touchdown and two picks.

That matchup with the Jets was the start of a resurgence for Buffalo's defense, which has allowed just 14 points in two of its last three games and forced six turnovers in the other - a 25-24 loss to Dallas on Oct. 8. The Bills gave up a season-low 15 first downs and forced a season-high six punts against the Ravens.

But Buffalo may be without starting defensive end Chris Kelsay, who injured his left ankle against Baltimore. He is scheduled for further testing to determine whether he can play Sunday.

Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made New York -3 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday's game, the over/under has been set at 37 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 63% of bets for this game have been placed on Buffalo +3 (View NFL Football bet percentages).

New York's defense has been abysmal all season, allowing 28 points or more in four of its seven games. The unit has just seven sacks and is ranked 28th in the league in rushing defense, allowing 138.0 yards per game.

The Jets gave up 130 yards rushing and three touchdowns last week to Bengals backup Kenny Watson, playing for the injured Rudi Johnson. Defensive end Bryan Thomas, meanwhile, had New York's only sack as the team recorded just two quarterback hits.

"I'm going to work as hard as I can defensively to make sure that we get these issues corrected, and they need to get corrected," Mangini said.

By: Staff Writers - Email Us

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