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Weekend Look Ahead

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5 things to watch for in Bills at Jets | Monday Night Football


1. QB Central

When you have two quarterbacks with the marquee value of Josh Allen and Aaron Rodgers, you know it's going to be viewed as a heavyweight matchup. Yes, the Bills and Jets each offer much more than just elite quarterback talents, but Allen and Rodgers will be center stage when each takes the field Monday night at MetLife Stadium.

What's notable about both signal callers is their past performance against their opponent Monday night is more of a mixed bag of results than an indication of their ability to dominate a game.

Allen's career numbers against the Jets include a 62 percent completion percentage with eight passing touchdowns and seven interceptions in nine games against Buffalo's division rival. His career passer rating against the Jets is 81.3. It should be noted he does have 70 carries for more than 450 yards and six rushing touchdowns, and most important his career record against New York is 6-3.

"They're a really good group," said Allen of New York's defense. "They've got rushers that have motors, they sub those guys in and out so they're fresh. Their DBs are smart. I know No. 1, he's a great player, he gets a lot of credit. I think No. 4 is also pretty dang good. So yeah, they game planned pretty well for us the last couple times we've played them, and we'll have our hands full come Monday night."

Rodgers' in just four games against the Bills has a completion percentage of just 54.6 percent, and he has turned the ball over with five touchdown passes against four interceptions and just a 75.4 rating. The veteran has gotten out and run a bit too with 14 rushes for 89 yards and a touchdown, but he's just 2-2 in his career versus Buffalo.

History has told us the defensive units for both the Bills and Jets will have a lot to say about how this game unfolds.

That being said, when it comes to Monday Night Football, Allen and Rodgers are pretty darn efficient. They have two of the highest passer ratings in primetime since the 1970 merger.

Allen has an NFL best 107 passer rating, while Rodgers has a rating of 106.

2. Perfect in primetime

If there's one difference between these two teams when it comes to high stakes football, it's that the Jets have far less experience when the lights are the brightest. Buffalo has been a major part of the NFL's primetime slate for the last three seasons. New York's participation hasn't been quite as numerous.

The Bills have also proven tough to beat in primetime at home or on the road. Last season, Buffalo was a perfect 5-0 in primetime games including a pair of road victories.

They also averaged an impressive 30 points per game in their five primetime outings last season and their opponents averaged less than half that total in those matchups (14.6 ppg).

Over the last two seasons the Jets are 0-2 in primetime, with both losses coming by more than two touchdowns. Buffalo is 7-2 in primetime since 2021.

The addition of Aaron Rodgers, however, could alter that lack of success for the Jets. He's won his last nine Monday Night starts since 2013.

3. Pass rush waves

The Bills aren't the only defense that rotates eight players through the course of a game on their defensive line. The Jets subscribe to the same kind of plan and have accumulated some talented depth thanks in large part to early draft pick investments in defensive linemen.

Set to rotate in behind their starters are first-round picks from each of the last two seasons in Jermaine Johnson and Will McDonald, who was the 15th overall pick this past spring. On the other side is 2022 fourth-round pick Micheal Clemons and veteran speed rusher Bryce Huff. And that's just on the edges.

"Will McDonald and Jermaine Johnson have had incredible preseasons," said Jets analyst for SNY, Erik Coleman on ‘One Bills Live.’ "Johnson is bigger and stronger and can bend around the edge. McDonald is a supreme athlete. This kid can kick over people, he can jump over guys. He's a great athlete. I think it's going to be a positive season for him."

"My biggest concern for the Bills in this game is their offensive line," said ESPN NFL analyst, Dan Orlovsky, in his weekly appearance on ‘One Bills Live.' "The waves of people that they have to be able to go and rush the passer is going to be overwhelming for a lot of teams. That's the biggest challenge for Buffalo on Monday night."

New York's best defensive lineman is their defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, who is flanked on the edges by starters Carl Lawson, who is expected to play, and John Franklin-Myers.

Expecting to see a lot of Williams is Bills rookie, O'Cyrus Torrence, who will be making his first career start at right guard.

"I'm very excited to do that. He's one of the best D-tackles in this league," said Torrence. "So, it's definitely going to be a good challenge to go up against him my first NFL game, so I'm looking forward to just going out there and playing and just seeing what I can do."

4. Big night for Bernard

For the first time in five years, Buffalo's starting middle linebacker will be someone other than Tremaine Edmunds. Despite missing the entire preseason with a hamstring injury, Terrel Bernard showed enough through the course of training camp and over the past two weeks to secure the job.

"We're confident in TB and I'm excited to watch him play," said head coach Sean McDermott. "He's got to take it one play one play at a time."

"The guy came in and took control of the defense," said Jordan Poyer. "A young guy with a lot of speed, go sideline to sideline and a lot of power, he can hit, and he's very smart and instinctive. I can see why coaches gave him the green dot, and the green light to be the starter. I'm excited to play alongside him. And I know he's going to help us make plays and win football games."

Bernard not only fills an important void defensively in terms of performance but has the added responsibility of running a defense now being called by his head coach, who has taken on play-calling duties as the defensive coordinator. Though he missed the entire preseason due to injury, Bernard made sure to get accustomed to coach McDermott's voice in his helmet.

"I had the earpiece on (during the preseason) and heard Coach McDermott calling the plays," he said. "I'm hearing the situations of the game, everything that's coming up within the game. So really taking that and going through my process of how I would do things, and then going back and watching the tape and seeing what happened and things we did right, things we did wrong and what we can improve off of."

Bernard also has the added benefit of his only start in his rookie season coming against the Jets in MetLife Stadium.

"I think the visualization aspect of it (is good)," said Bernard. "I know what the field looks like. I know what the crowd is going to be like. So you know, having that experience from last season to carryover to now is helpful."

Bernard had seven tackles in last season's start against the Jets.

5. Coming up 12s

There has been a lot of speculation about what offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey will roll out that's new for Buffalo's offense in 2023. With the addition of first-round pick Dalton Kincaid to the offensive lineup, there are many outside observers who believe the Bills will be using a lot more 12 personnel groupings (1 RB, 2 TE) this season. Tight ends Dawson Knox and Kincaid are viewed as a dynamic tandem and ESPN's Dan Orlovsky believes that personnel grouping could be extremely beneficial for the Bills this season.

"It forces a defense to decide how they're going to play the opposing offense," Orlovsky said. "If it's 1st-and-10 and you're facing 12 personnel from the Bills and you stay in your base defense with three linebackers, the Bills should be planning on throwing the football 75-80 percent of the time. I don't care if it's man or zone, you automatically have the advantage whether the tight ends are lined up inside or outside. If those defenses decide to play nickel, that means you have a DB near the line. Then your tight ends need to be good enough in the run game to take advantage of that from a blocking perspective to make the run game efficient.

"When you get teams to play in that world of deciding whether to play base or nickel, you empower your quarterback at the line of scrimmage. In 3rd-and-4 and 3rd-and-5 if they line up in this, let's get to this play. There are so many 'check-with-me's' that you can give an intelligent player like Josh (Allen) to not only get you out of bad plays but get you into ideal plays. If those two guys can become an effective pass game-run game tandem in 12 personnel that means you now control how the defense will play you."

Buffalo was last in the league in 2022 with the usage of 12 personnel on offense. That figures to increase this season after seeing the Bills use it on almost 22 percent of their snaps in the preseason (21.8%).

Scroll to see photos from the September 7, 2023 practice as the Bills prepare for Week 1.

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