The Buffalo Bills captured the AFC East for the third straight season in 2022. Once again led by one of the league's most dynamic offenses, the team rattled off seven consecutive games to close out the year. However, Josh Allen and company could not break through in the postseason. The Cincinnati Bengals dismantled them in the Divisional round in a 27-10 drubbing.
Meanwhile, the New York Jets are fresh off their third straight last-place finish in the division. Held back by the inconsistent play of former number two overall pick Zach Wilson all season long, the team lost its final six games while ranking 29th in the NFL in points per game (17.4), 31st in red zone scoring percentage (43.48), and 26th in yards per play (5.0). General manager Joe Douglas was forced to make a move at quarterback in the offseason. The franchise acquired long-time Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers for multiple high-end draft picks, signaling a changing of the guard in the Big Apple as they aim to snap their 13-year postseason drought.
Set to enter their second year with Ken Dorsey at the helm, Buffalo's offense was plagued by inconsistencies all year. While Allen continued to rack up numbers, the former seventh-overall pick passed for 4,283 yards while tossing 35 touchdown scores. This helped the unit to finish third in the league in points per game (26.9). However, the Firebaugh, California native, also led the league in turnovers (19). Along with this, the Bills also had the highest percentage of dropped passes (6.2). Focused on adding talent around their star signal caller in the offseason, General Manager Brandon Beane inked wide receivers Trent Sherfield and Deonte Hardy to deals. Furthermore, he also took tight end Dalton Kincaid in the first round of April's draft.
Decimated by injuries on the defensive side of the ball a year ago, the Bills lost Micah Hyde to a season-ending neck injury in week 2. Von Miller also tore his ACL in the team's Thanksgiving Day game against the Detroit Lions. Despite this, the group still finished top ten in the league in points per game (19.1) and yards per game (319.4). Now, under the guidance of Sean McDermott heading into 2023, longtime defensive coordinator Leslie Fraizer decided to part ways with the franchise in the offseason. With a fully healthy back end following the return of both Hyde and Jordan Poyer, Buffalo also bolstered its pass rush in the offseason following the signing of Leonard Floyd. As a result, look for McDermott to be more aggressive.
New York Jets
New York brought in Rodgers to try leading the team on a Super Bowl run, believing they were a competent quarterback away from making the postseason a year ago. They have a talented group of skill players around the 39-year-old. Garrett Wilson will try and build off a strong rookie campaign that saw him rack up 83 catches for 1,103 yards and four touchdowns despite instability at quarterback. Moreover, the Jets also have a strong 1-2 punch in the backfield following the acquisition of longtime Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook and the return of Breece Hall from his ACL injury. With questions surrounding the offensive line, it is one of the few position groups on the Jets with legitimate concerns. Annihilated by injuries upfront a year ago, left tackle Duane Brown is coming off a torn rotator cuff, while Mekhi Becton missed the entire season with a knee injury.
One of the top defenses across the NFL in 2022, the Jets finished fourth in points per game (18.6), fourth in yards per game (311.1), and tied for seventh in sacks with 45. They also held Buffalo to just 17 points in their opening meeting, the lowest point total the Bills put up all season long. Guided by the play of Sauce Gardner, the franchise's top pick from last year's draft excelled during his rookie season. He allowed just 39 completions on 81 targets as the closest defender while leading the league in pass breakups (20). Strong along the defensive line, like in the secondary, New York also has one of the deepest groups of pass rushers, featuring names like Carl Lawson, John Franklin-Myers, Will McDonald IV, Jermaine Johnson II, and Bryce Huff.
Date: September 11, 2023
Start Time: 8:15 P.M. ET
Location: East Rutherford, NJ
Stadium: MetLife Stadium
TV Info: ESPN
Points Spread: BUF -2 (-110) | NYJ +2 (-110)
Moneyline: BUF -130 | NYJ +110
Over/Under: O 45.0 (-110) | U 45.0 (-110)
Taking a look at the two-point spread, take the Bills to cover in a tight matchup. Home to one of the best rosters in the NFL, Buffalo has all the pieces in place to make a run at the Lombardi Trophy. While the Jets' offense should look much better under Rodgers, look for them to undergo growing pains early on.
With the total set at 45, play the under in this one. Home to two of the NFL's top defenses, each team is littered with playmakers on that side of the ball. Also, three of the last four head-to-head matchups between these two teams have gone under the number. Furthermore, only six of Buffalo's games last season exceeded the number.
In an all-AFC East showdown to close out week 1, the Bills travel to New York to battle the Jets. With all eyes on the meadowlands for the debut of Rodgers, the four-time MVP quarterback will try and do what Brett Favre did 15 years ago and win his debut with the team. Nonetheless, he will face a much more formidable task in beating a Buffalo team searching for its fourth straight division title. While Robert Saleh and company have the pass rushers to slow down Dorsey's group, expect Allen to make enough big plays to pull out the victory.
Final Score: Buffalo 24 New York 20