It’s time, Bills Mafia! Week one is here, and the Buffalo Bills are taking on the New York Jets, at recently renamed Bills Stadium. Buffalo’s passionate fan base won’t fill the stands, but the team should still take advantage of playing at home to start a promising year on the right foot.
It’s been a long time since there have been expectations of this magnitude in a Bills team. After two playoffs appearances in three years and a complete retooling, Buffalo seems finally ready to take the next step: fight for the division title and a deep playoff run. A win against the Jets is the first step.
Buffalo Defense Vs. Jets Offense
It’s well known that the Bills defense has been the main force behind the team’s success under McDermott. Leslie Frazier‘s defense has finished in the top 3 in yards allowed per game in the last two seasons and has drawn great reviews by the national media.
On the other side, Jets HC Adam Gase, hired as an offensive guru, needs to get something going on offense. He has a talented backfield, with QB Sam Darnold and RB Le’Veon Bell, but not many great pieces besides them. Veteran running back Frank Gore is Bell’s complement but has shown his age in the last couple of years.
The Jets’ group of pass catchers is pretty thin, with Jameson Crowder leading the way. He’s a dangerous slot receiver with a knack to getting open no matter the coverage. Containing him will be crucial to Buffalo’s defensive success. Crowder certainly is very capable of finding soft spots in the zone heavy Bills’ schemes and help Darnold to move the chains.
Outside, Breshad Perriman has the speed to stretch the field, and Chris Hogan is a veteran who knows how to get open. He was added recently and already made an impression. It will be interesting to see how McDermott and Frazier utilize their cornerbacks in these match-ups. Crowder is their top WR, but I don’t see Tre’Davious White following him inside. He should face Perriman most of the time since it’s not ideal to have Josh Norman or Levi Wallace, both dealing with hamstring issues recently, lining up against the speedster.
Tight end Chris Herndon is a dangerous receiving threat, but the Bills defense was very successful against tight ends in 2019, and there’s no reason not to expect it again this year. Jordan Poyer, Micah Hyde, and Matt Milano are all very capable of covering the Jets big pass catcher.
Last but not least, the battle in the trenches, as always, should be critical to the outcome of this game. The Jets completely retooled their offensive line, but it’s not an inspiring group. They’re going to face a very deep Bills’ defensive line, with a rotation that should cause a lot of trouble to their opponents.
The main match-up to keep an eye on is between Bills DE Jerry Hughes and Jets rookie LT Mekhi Becton. The newest team captain had a strong performance in the playoffs loss to the Texans and continues to be the best pass rusher on the team. He is going to face the rookie first-round pick, who has all the tools of a franchise LT but is far behind in experience compared to the Bills’ veteran. After watching how successful Hughes was against Houston’s LT Laremy Tunsil, I’m confident he will be able to take advantage of a rookie coming from a less than ideal off-season.
Biggest Advantage: Bills DL vs. Jets OL.
Reason for concern: Le’Veon Bell, rushing and receiving.
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