An inside look at Monday night’s Jets-Bills NFL Week 1 opener at MetLife Stadium:
Bills QB Josh Allen vs. Jets defensive line
Allen is now in his sixth season and he has established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
But … he has not played his best against the Jets.
Allen has eight touchdowns and seven interceptions and has been sacked 19 times in nine games against the Jets.
Compare that to his other division opponents — Dolphins (27 TDs, 5 INTs, 14 sacks) and Patriots (16 TDs, 7 INTs, 15 sacks).
The Jets’ defensive line is loaded.
It has both high-end talent and depth.
Carl Lawson, John Franklin-Myers, Jermaine Johnson, Will McDonald, Micheal Clemons and Bryce Huff can come off the edge and Quinnen Williams anchors the middle.
“Our defensive line is one to be reckoned with in my opinion,” Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said. “Not only do we have very good players, we have a lot of depth”
The Jets sacked Allen eight times last season, including five when they upset Buffalo at MetLife.
Even though they have had success against Allen, the Jets know how dangerous he can be with his arm and his legs.
“A quarterback that can absolutely make things happen,” Ulbrich said when describing Allen. “It doesn’t matter at times if you execute at the highest level, if you finish, you do all the things you practiced and got ready for. He has the ability to improvise and extend plays and make magic on those second plays, so it’s a great challenge. It’s a great barometer for this defense and where we’re at to play a high-level opponent like this.”
There is no question who the biggest acquisition was this offseason for the Jets.
But Aaron Rodgers is not the only new face, particularly on offense.
The one that has generated the most buzz over the last few weeks in the non-Rodgers division is running back Dalvin Cook.
The Jets added a Pro Bowl running back to the roster to team with Breece Hall, who was on his way to an outstanding rookie season before tearing the ACL in his left knee in October.
Hall makes his return from the injury Monday after not playing in the preseason.
Cook makes his Jets debut after also not playing in the preseason.
The Jets get to unveil their new running back tandem. Will there be enough carries to go around?
“We’re probably gonna be the best duo in the league, so I’m not really too worried about that,” Hall said. “As long as we’re winning, then we’re both gonna be fine. We’re both some of the top playmakers on this roster.
“I think there’s gonna be enough footballs for both of us.”
Becton is back
It is hard to believe but Mekhi Becton has never played at MetLife Stadium with fans in the stands.
There were no fans allowed during his rookie year of 2020 because of COVID restrictions.
Then, he injured his knee in Week 1 of the 2021 season on the road and has not played in the regular season since.
He makes his return Monday night, having shifted to right tackle.
Becton won the starting job and the Jets hope he can solidify an offensive line that looked shaky at times during training camp.
“I am excited for him, he’s going to have some mistakes, it is what it is,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said. “He hasn’t played football in two years, but he has worked hard to get to this point.”
Sauce Gardner is coming off one of the most impressive rookie seasons a Jet has ever had.
Gardner won the Defensive Rookie of the Year award and was rated as the best cornerback in football by Pro Football Focus. Now, what can he do for an encore?
“I’m just trying to dominate,” Gardner said. “The sky’s the limit for me. That’s how I feel. My teammates and coaches feel the same way about me. Anything that’s possible, I’m trying to achieve it.”
Gardner’s first test comes against Stefon Diggs and the explosive Bills offense. Diggs caught a deep pass on Gardner last season, a 42-yarder on the first play of the game at MetLife Stadium.
Ready for prime time?
The Jets return to “Monday Night Football” for the first time since 2020.
The Jets have been terrible in prime-time games in recent years, a trend they are hoping to end with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.
The Jets have lost eight straight prime-time games, three of those on “Monday Night Football.”
You have to go back to Sam Darnold’s debut in 2018 in Detroit for the last time the Jets won a game at night.
Rodgers may the guy to exorcise those demons (or should that be ghosts in honor of Darnold’s Monday night moment).
The 39-year-old quarterback has won nine straight games on Monday night.
It is hard to remember a Jets regular-season game with more buildup than this one.
Aaron Rodgers making his Jets debut in prime-time against the rival Bills on the anniversary of 9/11.
Emotions will be high at MetLife Stadium for this one and I think the Jets will ride those emotions to a close victory.
Jets 23, Bills 20