Welcome to week one of the 2019 NFL season. Hope is in the air in Western New York as second-year quarterback Josh Allen continues to put his stamp on the Buffalo Bills franchise. First on the schedule is AFC East foe, the New York Jets.
Paper won’t win games
The task for head coach Sean McDermott this season isn’t easy. It never really is in this division. Barring any setbacks, the New England Patriots are expected to come out on top. The race for second place between the Jets and Bills, however, will otherwise be the focus.
In the three seasons since McDermott took over in Buffalo, the Bills have a 2-4 record against the Jets, splitting the series the last two seasons. Buffalo enters the season with the biggest changes taking place on their roster, while the Jets enter with a new regime after fired their previous this last offseason.
The man on the opposite sideline will look familiar, though no longer clean-shaven. New York’s new head coach Adam Gase spent the last three years in Miami trading blows with the Bills before getting fired in January.
His roster in New York looks better than it ever did in Miami. Between acquisitions such as Le’Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder on offense, Gase was brought in specifically to make the Jets offense tick. Deemed a quarterback whisperer, his primary project is to make quarterback Sam Darnold the franchise QB they drafted him to be.
Defensively, spearheaded by Gregg Williams, the Jets look great upfront. Highlighted by C.J. Mosley and rookie Quinnen Williams, on paper New York looks like the better team.
Paper won’t win games.
Buffalo’s defensive makeover
Last season, the Bills finished the year with the second-best defense in terms of yards allowed. In 2019, it’s going to be their strongest unit once again. In their two contests against the Jets, containing Bell will be priority one. Back in 2016, Bell had his way with the Bills defense, carrying the ball 38 times for 236 and three touchdowns on top of four catches for an additional 62 yards.
Buffalo’s defense has received a makeover since then. With the safety acquisitions of Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer and the drafting of players like Tremaine Edmunds and Ed Oliver, the defense should be drastically improved.
The Bills and Jets are going to be two under-the-radar teams to watch. While there’s a lot of new in New York, the question mark in Buffalo revolves around their offense and the steps Allen can take to lead what’s relatively an entirely new offense across the board.
This week one matchup, while early in the season, will tell fans and teams alike exactly how ready they are for the new season. When it’s all said and done, winning the first-of-two games against the Jets could mean the difference between a playoff berth or going home in January.
Tyler Olson is a writer for PFN covering the Buffalo Bills. You can follow him @to2471 on Twitter.