In his last Monday Musings before the start of the regular season, feature columnist Steve Mathes dissects all the key match-ups for the upcoming Bills vs. Jets opener.
For the second season in a row, the Buffalo Bills take on the New York Jets to open the season. Last year, the Bills were able to squeak by with fourth-quarter heroics. The expectation this season is that the Bills offense needs to have the firepower to score more than 19 points.
Bills Offense vs. Jets Defense Take #1
The Jets have may flaws on their defense. The defensive line is not one of them. The Bills offensive line was adequate last year but far from perfect. This front will have to get its pass rush from the secondary but should be sturdy against the run. It will be impressive if either running back can average more than 4.5 yards per carry this week. At the end of the day this game will be squarely in the hands of Josh Allen. I will not be surprised if Allen throws the ball 35-40 times.
Bills Offense vs. Jets Defense Take #2
The Buffalo Bills have a massive advantage one on one at wide receiver with the Jets cornerbacks. It’ll be interesting to see how Gregg Williams utilizes new safety, Bradley McDougle. Marcus Maye will surely be tasked with support on the boundaries, but the Buffalo Bills now have two top-flight receivers. When Maye doubles Diggs, Brown will have the advantage. When Maye doubles Brown, Diggs will have the advantage. The success of the Bills offense will be predicated on Josh Allen being able to make consistent throws down the field to his boundary receivers.
Dawson Knox and Cole Beasley will be important as well. Although Pool is a quality nickel corner, Beasley is himself a quality slot wide receiver. With CJ Mosley opting out and Jamal Adams in Seattle, there should be more open for the Bills over the middle of the field. Allen will need to make sure he is aware of his third and fourth options. Dawson Knox is a quality sleeper this week as a guy who could get 4-5 targets and make the most of them.
Bills Defense vs. Jets Offense Take #1
The Buffalo Bills defensive line has wreaked havoc on the Buffalo Bills offensive line all training camp. The Buffalo Bills offensive line is better than the New York Jets offensive line. The Bills need to dominate the Jets at the line of scrimmage. There is no excuse.
Jerry Hughes will be head to head vs. rookie first-round pick Mekhi Becton. Becton is a massive man, but Hughes will need to give him an introduction to NFL pass rushers. It would be to the Bills advantage to play Addison more on the left side to provide a spark more pass rush one on one vs. George Fant.
Between Oliver, Jefferson, Phillips, and Butler, the Bills should be able to do damage in the middle of the defense. I would be surprised if Bell musters more than 4.0 yards per carry. Darnold will be forced from the pocket a lot. If the Bills ends do their job and set the edge, there should be a number of “wrap up sacks” waiting for them.
If the Bills defensive line can dominate the way I think it will, it will free up Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds to do what they do best. It will be up to this duo to make the game-altering big plays.
Bills Defense vs. Jets Offense Take #2
The New York Jets receivers are banged up. Chris Hogan may very well be a starting receiver on the outside week one. Even healthy, the Jets receivers are no match for the Bills secondary. The only concern for the Bills will be playing sound defense and not letting Darnold make plays to his auxiliary options like Herndon, Crowder, and Bell. All three are capable of extending drives and making enough plays for the Jets to muster points.
The New York Jets have had a turbulent training camp. They have numerous new starters on both sides of the ball in a season where there is less practice and installation time than ever. In their scrimmage, the Jets starters lost to the Jets back-ups 27-6. The Bills starters on the other hand easily handled the back-ups in their scrimmage. If the Bills do not win this game handily, I will be concerned.
Bills 27, Jets 13