The Bills are the trendy pick to win the AFC East. I wonder how they will handle that kind of pressure and think they are overrated. Even so, they still have more talent than the Jets and will find a way to win this one with a late touchdown.
Bills 21, Jets 17
Jets QB Sam Darnold vs. Bills QB Josh Allen
OK, so this is not technically a matchup in Sunday’s game, but let’s be honest: How these two perform is what we’ll be talking about Monday morning.
The two quarterbacks are forever linked (along with a few others) as members of the 2018 draft class. The Jets took Darnold No. 3 overall and the Bills selected Allen with the No. 7 pick. Through two years, they both have been erratic, but Allen has the edge over Darnold because he led his team to the playoffs last season.
This is a huge year for both players to establish themselves as their franchise’s long-term answer at quarterback and silence the doubters.
The two are close friends and train together in the offseason in California. This year, that training lasted longer than normal due to the pandemic, and the two spent a lot of time together. Darnold said they engaged in some trash talk, but he was not sharing it with the media.
“For the most part, we keep the rivalry as real as possible, we try not to get into it at all, especially during game week,” Darnold said. “We might share some thoughts every now and then in the offseason, but nothing crazy, never given secrets away.”
Bell cow: Le’Veon Bell has talked a good game this summer. Now, he must play one. The Jets running back reported to training camp in great shape and vowed to have the best season of his career.
“I’m ready to show this is the best Le’Veon Bell that’s ever played in the NFL,” Bell said last month.
The Jets can only hope he’s right. Bell’s first season with the team was a failure. He rushed for just 789 yards and was held to a career-low 3.2 yards per carry. He did not have 100 yards rushing in a game and his longest run of the season was 19 yards.
Coach Adam Gase has vowed to use Bell more creatively this season, and the Jets hope their remade offensive line can clear some holes for him that were not there last year. The offense would look vastly different with a strong year from Bell.
Extreme line makeover: General manager Joe Douglas made it clear when he was hired that his first priority was rebuilding the offensive line. He did that this offseason. Now, we’ll see the results.
The Jets will start five different offensive linemen than they did a year ago against the Bills and four starters who were not on the team last year. Rookie left tackle Mekhi Becton is the headliner, but the Jets need to hope the whole unit has been able to form a quick chemistry with this strange offseason, condensed training camp and no preseason games.
Diggs town: This year’s Bills look a lot like last year’s Bills with one notable exception. Bills GM Brandon Beane went out and landed himself a No. 1 wide receiver. Beane sent four draft picks, including this year’s first-rounder, to the Vikings in exchange for Stefon Diggs.
Diggs has had back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons and has 30 receiving touchdowns in his five-year career. The addition of Diggs gives Josh Allen another weapon, joining John Brown and Cole Beasley to form a strong group. The Jets cornerbacks are going to have a tough time against Diggs and friends.
There’s a catch: Though the Bills went out and made a splashy trade for a receiver, Douglas and the Jets went bargain hunting. He signed Breshad Perriman to a one-year, $6.5 million contract after allowing Robby Anderson to leave in free agency. He also drafted Denzel Mims in the second round, but the rookie is dealing with injuries to both hamstrings and has been ruled out. Training camp addition Chris Hogan could start in place of Mims.
That leaves the question of whether QB Sam Darnold has enough weapons around him.
“I have a ton of confidence,” Darnold said. “They’ve showed in practice the ability to make big plays.”
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