ORCHARD PARK — It all begins today when the Bills host the New York Jets for their 2020 season opener at Bills Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. on CBS. Andrew Catalon (play-by-play), James Lofton (analyst), and AJ Ross (sideline reporter) will be on the call.
Before you sit down with your cold beer and your hot wings to enjoy another season of NFL football, let’s take a closer look at a few key points surrounding today’s Bills-Jets game:
JOSH ALLEN AS A RUNNER
Last season, Josh Allen was one of two quarterbacks in the NFL to record over 100 rushing attempts, Lamar Jackson being the other, but if all goes well don’t expect a repeat performance for Allen in that regard. With an improved stable of weapons, including wide receiver Stefon Diggs who the Bills traded a first-round pick for during the offseason, expect to see Allen try to stay in the pocket as much as possible to give his receivers a chance to work themselves open downfield.
With that said, pulling it down and running is a valuable part of Allen’s game, so don’t expect the Bills to fully remove that threat - especially near the goal line. Allen proved to have a nose for the end zone in ‘19, scoring nine rushing touchdowns to lead all quarterbacks.
Another reason Allen’s number of carries may be limited this season is the Bills growing backfield, which welcomed rookie bulldozer, Zack Moss, to the fold via the draft. Devin Singletary proved last season he could handle the load as a feature running back, but in today’s NFL you need more than one capable ball carrier and early impressions of Moss describe him as just that.
If both can stay healthy, the Bills’ dynamic duo has a chance to become one of the most exciting 1-2 punches of any backfield in the NFL.
A major point of emphasis for Allen when he does decide to pull it down and run will be ball security, which he struggled with last season. In total, Allen finished the year with 14 fumbles, losing four of them. He has to be better at protecting the football this season.
The over/under for the number of Diggs’ receptions against the Jets was set at 3.5, which seems low. The Bills traded a first-round pick for this guy for a reason and it would be a shock if he weren’t able to reel in at least five grabs in his debut in Buffalo.
The Bills brought Diggs in to inject life into their deep passing attack, where they struggled to find consistent production last season. Since the days that former Bills receiver Robert Foster was seemingly catching a deep ball every game during the ‘18 season, Buffalo has not been able to stretch the defense as well as they would like to and expect Diggs to help in that area.
Last season Diggs recorded the most yards (635) and the most touchdowns (6) in the NFL on passes thrown more than 20+ yards downfield. This is a guy who can get open for big yardage and look for him to do so once or twice this afternoon against a porous Jets’ secondary.
While there is plenty left to be proven by the Bills’ offense which added several pieces during the offseason, Buffalo’s defense returns nine starters to their opening day lineup and will once again be expected to be one of the league’s elite units.
Part of that long list of returning starters are two of the league’s most underrated players in safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde, and beside them sits perhaps the league’s best defensive back, Tre’Davious White. A player to watch in the middle for the Bills will be Tremaine Edmunds, who has been garnering plenty of hype in this, his third NFL season.
The most important mainstay on this defense, however, is the only member who won’t be between the lines for the first snap this afternoon, but rather on the sideline. Coach Sean McDermott remains one of the most impactful defensive minds in the league and has a load of weapons at his disposal which will make for a tough day for the Jets, who are looking at 100 percent turnover in front of quarterback Sam Darnold on the offensive line.
Expect the Bills’ defense to start the season with a dominant performance against NY.
HOW BAD ARE THE JETS?
After losing their best player, safety Jamal Adams who they traded to the Seattle Seahawks, all hope was lost for the upcoming Jets’ season. It seems as if Adam Gase, who has inspired little confidence from the team and the fan base, is entering a lame-duck year as the team’s head coach and with a lack of offensive talent around him, there is little hope for a major step forward from Jets’ third-year quarterback Darnold.
Six wins seem like a high number to project for this team this season, but we will find out just how bad the Jets truly are this afternoon. If they are as advertised, these will be two easy wins for the Bills this year.