Weekend Look Ahead

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5 things to watch for in Bills vs. Jets | Kickoff Weekend 2020


1. Brown and Diggs are opening week TD makers

Buffalo's offense will be looking to increase their points per game scoring average in 2020. Last season, the Bills averaged just 19.6 points per game. In an effort to address that deficiency, they signed Stefon Diggs, whose 23 touchdowns scored over the last three seasons is tied for fifth most in the league over that span.

Diggs is known for getting off to early starts when it comes to reaching the end zone. He has three touchdowns in four career season openers.

He's encouraged by the progress he and Josh Allen have made on the practice field in their short time together.

"We're still in the early phases. We haven't played any ball yet, so you don't ever want to put your foot in your mouth," Diggs said. "But I can attribute (our on-field chemistry) to spending as much time that we have, all the 'Call of Duty,' all the meeting time, all the hanging out and learning one another and the practice time. It's serious out there. We take it one step at a time, one play at a time."

Also adept at posting opening week touchdowns is Bills wideout John Brown. He has four touchdowns in six career season openers, including the game-winning touchdown last season against the Jets in Week 1.

Buffalo's offense is hoping that success continues on Sunday.

2. Why a tight game is likely

Although most believe the Bills to be vastly superior to the Jets on paper in terms of roster depth and strength, it doesn't guarantee a wide margin on the scoreboard. Four of the last five games between the Bills and Jets have been decided by single digits.

Both games last season were decided by a total of eight points as the two teams split the season series. In 2018, their second matchup was a four-point affair won by New York (27-23).

In Buffalo, close games between the Jets and Bills are even more common with the last five consecutive games between the division rivals at Bills Stadium being single-digit affairs. Those games were decided by seven, four, nine, six and five points respectively.

The only recent contest decided by a wide margin was Buffalo's 41-10 drubbing of the Jets in Week 11 at MetLife Stadium.

3. Keep an eye on Crowder

The Bills split their season series with the Jets last year, due in part to playing mainly reserve players in their season finale with New York after already clinching an AFC Wild Card berth. One consistent problem for Buffalo's top five defense was devising a way to stop Jets' slot receiver Jamison Crowder.

After racking up an eye-popping 14 receptions for 99 yards in the Week 1 matchup with the Bills last season, Crowder tacked on another eight catches for 66 yards and a touchdown in the regular season finale.

"With their team it obviously starts with Le'Veon Bell and their quarterback, Sam Darnold who can make any throw, but (Jamison) Crowder last year… Crowder, the first game of the season he had a heyday against us," said Micah Hyde. "He was not necessarily taking the top off the defense, but he just does his crafty stuff on the inside."

Crowder's 833 receiving yards were the third-most by a receiver with a new team in 2019. The Bills' John Brown led the league in that statistic with 1,060 receiving yards.

The Bills are back and ready for the 2020 season! Scroll through to see the team's best portraits

4. Year 3 for Allen and Darnold

The draft classmates from 2018 both made sizable improvements with their personal games in their second NFL seasons last year. In fact, both Josh Allen and Sam Darnold had top-five passer rating increases from 2018 to 2019.

Darnold's increase of 6.7 passer rating points was good for fifth-best in the league, while Josh Allen boosted his passer rating more than 17 points (17.4), which was second only to Tennessee's Ryan Tannehill last year.

Both quarterbacks took much better care of the football in the second half of the 2019 campaign. Allen threw 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions over his last 10 starts, while Darnold had 13 touchdowns and four interceptions over his final eight games.

"Just looking back at the first year of playing against him and watching tape on him and just how much he's grown as a player, he really seems to be confident in this current offensive system that he'll be in now for the second year in a row," said Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. "You could see his maturation over the course of last season. A lot calmer, a lot more poised, and he played with a lot more confidence later in the season than he did early in the season. A guy with really good mobility, good arm strength and seems to be a smart quarterback as well so he'll present some challenges boys for sure."


5. Helmet decals will remember victims

As part of the NFL's expanded initiative to bring awareness to social and racial injustice, players and coaches will be wearing decals containing the names of victims of racial injustice or phrases they have chosen to honor on their helmets or sideline hats to raise awareness about systemic racism in our society.

In the back of the end zone messages of 'End Racism' and 'It Takes All of Us' to honor frontline healthcare workers and the social justice and anti-racism movement will be stenciled on the field for Kickoff Weekend in Bills Stadium and all other home game venues.

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