The NFL schedule-makers knew what they were doing when they gave us the Bills and Jets on Monday Night Football to wrap up Week 1. Both teams have high hopes this season, and both start the 2023 campaign near the top of our NFL Power Rankings. The big story heading into tonight, of course, is the New York debut of Aaron Rodgers. The Jets haven’t been much of a factor in the AFC East for some time, but a win tonight from Rodgers would prove that the hype is warranted and that this team is different. Buffalo is currently a small 2.5-point favorite, while the total over/under is set at 44.5 points.
As mentioned above, all eyes will be on Aaron Rodgers tonight. If the Jets can play defence like they did last year, Rodgers has the opportunity to win a lot of games in 2023. He won’t be a one man show, though, as New York’s supporting cast around him is very strong as well. Second year wide receiver Garrett Wilson will be the number one target for Rodgers and could be in for a huge year after being named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year last season. Longtime Packers Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard are also new to the Jets, which will give Rodgers a nice feeling of familiarity early in the season.
At running back, Dalvin Cook and Breece Hall should form a very tough duo for the Bills to stop tonight. With Hall coming back from last year’s leg injury, Cook may see more action early in the season, but expect the younger Hall to play more and more as the season progresses. Both backs are a danger in the run and pass game, giving Rodgers tons of options on the field.
Defensively, the Jets were one of the best in the league last year, but they’ll have their hands full tonight. With the mobile and strong-armed Josh Allen at QB, New York’s pass rush will have to get pressure quickly and not allow Allen to escape the pocket. In the secondary, Sauce Gardner will mostly be up against Stefon Diggs, which gives us the best CB-WR battle of Week 1. In two games against Gardner and New York last year, Diggs had 8 catches for 130 yards and zero touchdowns.
While the Jets will look like a very different team, we’ll see a lot of the same faces on the Buffalo sideline. The core of the team is still very much intact, but after years of losing big playoff games and not making it to the Super Bowl, there seems to be a little more pressure on Buffalo to get it done this year. With that pressure mounting, a statement win at home against the new-look Jets would be the ideal way for Sean McDermott’s squad to start 2023.
Offensively, the team still goes how Josh Allen goes. For the most part, he’s a terrific quarterback that can beat you on the ground or through the air. Unfortunately, though, there are times when he tries to do too much. Few win as many games as Allen, but no one turned the ball over more than his 19 in the 2022 season. Starting in Game 1 against the Jets, Buffalo’s QB should look to take less risks and not force the big play if things aren’t going well.
On the other side of the ball, expect the Bills defence to make it as hard as possible on Aaron Rodgers tonight. If the Jets had a weakness to exploit, it’s their offensive line, which means the pressure should be coming early and often at the 40-year old quarterback. In the last five years, Sean McDermott’s defence has ranked in the top 6 for yards against four times. They did lose a few guys in the offseason, but don’t expect to see any drastic changes from that kind of consistent success tonight.
Bills and Jets: The Pick
The Bills and Jets should give us a great divisional battle in primetime. For one team, it’s the start of a new era, while for the other, it’s another start to a year with high expectations. Will the Jets live up to the hype? Are the Bills still a legit Super Bowl contender? It’s only one game, but tonight should answer some questions. As for a pick, I expect the Jets to have a few kinks in the offence in their first game. The defence will play Buffalo well enough to keep it close, but I’ll take the Bills to come away victorious in the end.
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