Buffalo Bills (+3.0) (-110)
New York Jets (-3.0) (-110)
Forecast: Partly sunny, high 75.
Game: 1 p.m., MetLife Stadium.
Jets injuries: WR Robby Anderson (calf), day to day; WR/PR Braxton Berrios (hamstring), CB Trumaine Johnson (hamstring) and G Brian Winters (shoulder).
Bills injuries: WR Andre Roberts (quad), questionable; TE Tyler Kroft (foot), questionable, TE Jason Croom on injury reserve (hamstring).
The Bills were 6-10 last season. The Jets were 4-12. The Jets have a new head coach in Adam Gase. This is the third year for Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott.
Both teams are a work in progress. This should be a defensive game. The offenses may be out of sync to start the season as defenses usually have the upper hand in the early going. And let’s face it: The Jets and Bills were ranked No. 29 and No. 30 in offense last season, so, even with improvements, this is not expected to be a high-scoring affair. But this game will have some indication of which team will be best suited to challenge the New England Patriots this season.
When the Buffalo Bills surprised many by releasing running back LeSean McCoy, the line didn’t move. The Bills, as the road team, are three-point underdogs to the Jets. There are questions on both sides.
For the Jets, wide receiver Robby Anderson has a calf injury, although it’s expected he will play on Sunday. For the Bills, they will start Mitch Morse, even though the center just came out of concussion protocol. The Bills are also banged up at tight end (Tyler Kroft, Jason Croom). But those injury woes are offset by the optimism surrounding Buffalo, who went 4-0 in the preseason. It is expected the line will stay at -3.
Bills offense versus Jets offense
Quarterbacks Josh Allen and Sam Darnold, both entering their sophomore seasons, have a lot to prove and whoever has the better day will likely be the winner. Good things are expected of Buffalo’s franchise quarterback, who had a rough rookie season, especially with accuracy (52.8% completion rate). But the Bills have put him in a position to succeed. He has a new offensive line in front of him, but while that’s good news, it may take time to establish chemistry with each other and with Allen.
Center Mitch Morse, who has come out of concussion protocol, hasn’t snapped the ball to Allen in a game yet. There will be a feeling-out process too with Allen’s new receivers, Cole Beasley and John Brown. Brown is the No. 1 option when Allen goes deep. Expect him to see a lot of cornerback Darryl Roberts. Beasley will be solid on intermediate routes and a safe target over the middle, which should boost Allen’s completion rate.
Running back Devin Singletary is a reliable pass catcher out of the backfield too. Buffalo has a rookie tight end starting in Dawson Knox because Tyler Kroft is still recovering from a broken foot. With all the change in personnel and injuries on offense, expect an uneven performance from the Bills offense as a result.
For the Jets, wide receiver Robby Anderson is hobbling a bit, and he should see a lot of Tre’Davious White, who is the Bills’ best cornerback. Jamison Crowder made only three catches for 39 yards in the preseason, but the Jets were saving him. Overall, the Jets passing attack should not threaten Buffalo’s vaunted pass defense.
Now in his second season, Allen should be more comfortable at the controls. How will the running game go for Buffalo. With Sean McCoy released, the load will fall on rookie Devin Singletary, Frank Gore and T.J. Yeldon. Singletary isn’t projected to be an elite runner right away and Gore is 36, so expectations should be taken into account. The Jets should be better on the ground than the Bills with elite runner Le’Veon Bell, who will make his debut with the Jets. But the concern with Bell is that he will have some rust. The former Pittsburgh Steeler hasn’t played any downs this preseason, so there’s no telling how many touches he will see on Sunday.
Bills defense versus Jets defense
Defense is the Bills strength, especially against the pass. But defensive lineman Ed Oliver will be one of the keys as Buffalo looks to improve its pass rush. Last year, Buffalo ranked No. 26 in pass rushing. All signs point to a low-scoring game because the Jets are under a new scheme and will be much more blitz-heavy under Gregg Williams. Look for Josh Allen to be under pressure all game. For the Bills, they are counting on defensive lineman Ed Oliver to be a major disruptor, but he wasn’t spectacular in the preseason. He is highly touted, but he is still just a rookie.