After posting a 7-9 record last season, the Jets will have seven games against 2019 playoff teams and the 2020 schedule strength is .533. With training camp on the horizon and September not too far off in the distance, NewYorkJets.com is examining each of the Green & White's matchups next season. We start our series with Bills insider Chris Brown as the Jets will travel to Buffalo in Week 1 and the two clubs will have their return date at MetLife Stadium in Week 7.
The Buffalo Bills haven't won the AFC East since 1995, but there is reason for optimism in Western New York. The division appears up for grabs and the Bills, a club that has earned postseason trips in two of the past three seasons, are the betting favorites.
"It's the question of you've been the hunter," Brown said of the Bills' unfamiliar role. "How do you take on the role of being the hunted? The coaching staff and GM Brandon Beane have stated it time and time again when they've been asked this question and they've said, 'Hey look, New England won the division last year and until somebody beats them on the field, they are still the team to beat.' And I understand that logic completely, but when you are looking at it on paper, the Bills roster top to bottom — offense, defense and special teams — is probably the deepest in the division right now with what they've been able to assemble over the course of the last three years."
The Bills have system continuity on both sides of the ball and one of the game's underrated head coaches in Sean McDermott. GM Brandon Beane made a plethora of moves to help an already stout defense, but the deal that could impact Buffalo the most was his trade acquisition of a No. 1 receiver in Stefon Diggs.
"What they're getting is a truly elite receiver. I don't think I'm overstating it, saying he's probably a top-five, top-seven in the league at the receiver position," Brown said of Diggs. "And for anybody who wants to question that, go look at his catch rate – 81.8 percent last year. Go look at his touchdown marks. In the last three years, he has 23 touchdowns… What the Bills needed was a point producer, a proven point producer, and he gives them that."
Matchups to Watch
Much like Sam Darnold, Allen's numbers got better his sophomore campaign yet questions remain about his downfield accuracy and ball security. With the expected full return of C.J. Mosley, the Jets will be tough to run on and you can expect Gregg Williams to bring the heat.
"The deep-ball accuracy is an area where he has to get better. He struggled with that last year, only a 25 completion percentage for 20 yards or more and that number has to get up," Brown said of Allen. "Typically in the league, the better quarterbacks are up around 40 percent. He has to hit about one or two of those a week to keep defensive coordinators honest… Deep-ball accuracy is probably No. 1 and ball security when he takes off and runs. He had 16 fumbles counting the wild card game for 17 games last year."
The Bills are expected to field one of the NFL's top defenses, but can Darnold and his new wideouts take advantage of whomever is lining up across the way from Tre'Davious White and in the slot. The Bills signed Josh Norman in free agency and the 32-year-old veteran is hoping to rebound after an uneven run in Washington.
"He believes this is a scheme that best fits his skill-set. He is very excited to be back with Sean McDermott after playing for him and playing his best football under McDermott in Carolina where he went to the Pro Bowl," Brown said. "I think he's looking to reclaim his status as a top-end corner in this league. Whether he can beat Levi Wallace out for that job remains to be seen."
Why It's Important
The opener provides a chance for the Green & White to get a divisional triumph on the road before hosting San Francisco in Week 2. The Bills, who will follow up the opener with a road date against the Dolphins, will have 10 days to prepare for the return matchup in October.
"It's going to be interesting what ramifications those two games have knowing the last time they're going to play 'em, it's not even going to be Halloween yet. It's a different dynamic for sure," Brown said. "The Bills and the Jets for that matter are going to have to hope they aren't in direct competition with one another come the back end of the schedule because they're not going to have that game they usually have to maybe make up a difference or create some separation in the division standings."