Two AFC East rivals will kick off their 2019 campaigns here as the New York Jets host the Buffalo Bills. Both teams were starting rookie quarterbacks last season, and both teams had tough years. Each fanbase has reason to be cautiously optimistic entering the season, and it’ll be fascinating to watch the development of both of the young passers. Oddsmakers installed the Jets as modest favorites for this one.
The Bills raised a lot of eyebrows last year when they dumped Tyrod Taylor and drafted Josh Allen early in the first round. Buffalo’s defense was excellent, but Allen and the offense were inconsistent at best. Allen did show a lot of flashes, and he did have a poor supporting cast around him, so there are certainly reasons to believe he’ll take a step forward in 2019. If he does, this Bills team could be quite good with all the talent they’ve stockpiled on defense.
The Jets drafted Sam Darnold with the third overall pick last year, and so far they seem happy with the pick. Darnold was one of the youngest starters in recent NFL history in Week 1 last year, so it’s understandable that he sometimes struggled with turnovers. New York fired head coach Todd Bowles after the season, so Darnold has been learning a new system this offseason. Will he be the one to finally lead the Jets out of their rut?
Bills need Allen to step up
The Bills’ 2018 season was a mixed bag. They finished the year at 6-10, but there were still a lot of positives to take away. The team fought hard until the very end, and the defense was one of the best in the league. Josh Allen was inconsistent at best, but that’s what is to be expected from a raw rookie quarterback. Allen did show plenty of flashes, and if he can take the next step in his development in 2019 then the team is in good shape. They got rid of Tyrod Taylor and dismantled a playoff team to draft him, so the Bills are all in on Allen. Not all of the Wyoming product’s struggles last year were on him. He had a terrible offensive line, and one of the worst group of receivers in the entire NFL.
Buffalo made upgrading both areas a priority this offseason, and I like the moves they made. They signed Mitch Morse away from Kansas City, one of the league’s better centers when he is healthy. They also signed receivers John Brown and Cole Beasley.
Beasley talks freedom to play his game.
“I tell people all the time that running routes is all about angles. It’s all geometry basically. Wherever my guy is covering me, my angle is going to be different where I break. If I have a guy way inside, I know I have to come flatter or even negative to beat him to the ball. If I drift he’s going to come right in front of me and pick it. So knowing angles and knowing what it looks like from back there so he can see that I’m open is critical. You take a wrong angle and it’s the difference between me looking open and me looking covered to him.”
Brown will be a nice vertical threat who can stretch out defenses with his speed and open up the rest of the field, while Beasley will be a nice chain-mover and safety blanket over the middle out of the slot. As for the running game, it should be a lot better with the improved offensive line and they drafted intriguing young running back Devin Singletary in the third round back in April. After releasing LeSean McCoy this week, Singletary is in great position.
The release of McCoy, who joined the Chiefs later this week, doesn’t mean the Bills are giving up and rebuilding. They’ll likely go with a three-man rotation at running back at least in the early part of the season.
Jets Enter New Era
The Jets are coming off an even more disappointing year. They had the third overall pick in last year’s draft and used it on USC quarterback Sam Darnold. Darnold was one of the youngest starting quarterbacks ever last season, and he showed tons of promise. Unfortunately, the rest of the team didn’t, and they finished the year just 4-12.
They ended up with the third overall pick again, which they used on Alabama defensive lineman Quinnen Williams. They fired Todd Bowles after the season ended, and made an interesting hire to replace him. They brought on Adam Gase, who had just been fired by the AFC East rival Dolphins. Shortly after the draft, the Jets fired GM Mike Maccagnan in a power struggle won by Gase. New York spent big in free agency, signing running back Le’Veon Bell and linebacker C.J. Mosley to massive contracts. Dysfunction soon popped up in the organization again, as word leaked that Gase wasn’t in favor of either of the major signings.
The Jets have also had some tough luck recently. Just a few weeks ago, they lost starting linebacker Avery Williamson for the season with a torn ACL. Williamson had been operating as the quarterback of the defense and calling plays, so this was a huge loss. The Jets’ O-line wasn’t great last year, and I don’t see it being all that much better personally. One interesting storyline here is that Gase and Bills coach Sean McDermott have plenty of familiarity with one another. McDermott destroyed Gase in Week 17 of last year, which essentially sealed Gase’s firing from Miami. As such, this is a revenge game of sorts for Gase.
- 0-4-1 ATS in their last 5 home games
- 2-7-1 ATS in their last 10 games overall
- 1-6 ATS in their last 7 vs. AFC East
- 10-4 ATS in their last 14 games in Week 1
- 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games on fieldturf