JETS VS. BILLS
SUNDAY, 1 P.M. ET, NEW ERA FIELD, ORCHARD PARK, N.Y.
Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon, Steve Tasker
About the Jets: After plummeting from a 10-6 record to 5-11 last season, the Jets jettisoned several aging veterans and are in total rebuild mode. There could be a dozen new starters in the lineup for the opener, with eight of them in either their first or second seasons. Despite the youth movement, coach has chosen 15th-year journeyman QB
to run the offense after sec- ond-year QB bombed out and third-year QB was injured in preseason. McCown, 38, will be playing for his eighth NFL team. To shore up a defense that allowed 30 touchdown passes while coming up with eight interceptions, the Jets will start their top two draft picks, SS and FS Under rookie head coach Buffalo also is building for the future and could field a dozen new starters, including rookie QB if third-year starting QB remains in concussion protocol. In the preseason, the Bills traded gifted but often injured WR Sammy Watkins, third-year starting CB Ron Darby and their 2016 second-round pick, MLB Reggie Ragland. McDermott is hoping a switch to a 4-3 alignment will boost a Bills defense that slipped from fourth overall in 2014 to 19th in each of Rex Ryan’s two seasons as head coach. Taylor signed a team-friendly contract extension, but serious doubts remain about his ability to become a franchise signal-caller. Recently acquired WR the team’s only experienced wideout, but Taylor does still have RB is LeSean McCoy had 1,623 yards from scrimmage with 14 TDs in 2016.
Dareus has been an enigma, an immensely talented interior lineman who has been hampered by injuries and off-field problems. McDermott sent him home for violating team rules before Game 3 of the preseason. The coach is hopeful his two-time Pro Bowler gets the message and takes advantage of Johnson, a fourth-year pro who faces the unenviable task of trying to fill
WHO WILL WIN AND WHY
1. The Real McCoy: Given Taylor’s struggles and his inexperienced receiving corps, the Bills are expected to give McCoy a heavy diet of handoffs and short passes.
2. One-two combo: Like Buffalo, the Jets will try to stay grounded with handoffs and swing passes to RB and RB
who combined for 2,186 yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdowns in 2016.
3. Secondary is primary: The Jets have two rookie safeties. The Bills will field four new starters in their secondary. So both quarterbacks might attempt to test the newbies with a few deep throws.
The Jets will count on WR whom they recently acquired from the Seattle Seahawks, while the Bills will target Matthews, the former Philadelphia Eagles wideout who has been limited by a chest injury since joining the team three weeks ago.