BILLS (+3) at Jets
The thing I liked about both Josh Allen and Sam Darnold in Year 1 was that neither played scared. Allen threw downfield (20 yards or more) on 20.31% of his attempts, which ranked first. Darnold was at 14.49% (seventh). Allen's goal in 2019: improved accuracy. Darnold's goal: better decision-making. Only one thing is for certain here: Whichever fan base is victorious will be convinced its team is headed to the postseason.
Jets (-3) over Bills: It seems the football world has taken sides: You must like one of these teams to have a breakout this season. If you read enough preview material, you'll see plenty of people picking one or the other as a surprise playoff team. Including me. I can see all the arguments for the Bills being that team, but I prefer the Jets because I think Sam Darnold will take a big step this season. The Jets' long Week 1 injury list is a little worrisome though.
Jets (-3) over Bills: The Jets got themselves a Peyton Manning-approved head coach, Adam Gase, to try to unlock the immense promise in Sam Darnold's arm. They also scored Le'Veon Bell, a superstar running back, in free agency after Bell's holdout (and eventual exit) last season with Pittsburgh. The seeds seem to be there for a breakout season, but don't overlook the Bills. They saw what Josh Allen, the team's young quarterback, does best — throw the balldeep — and they got him a pair of wide receivers (John Brown and Cole Beasley) who can take advantage of that. In Week 1, however, Allen will have to restrain himself or else Gregg Williams, the Jets' hyperaggressive defensive coordinator, will make him pay for any mistakes.
Bills 24, Jets 17: Here's another one of those tricky, season-opening division games. In terms of trying to progress their second-year quarterbacks, the Bills and Jets are in similar places. New York feels a step ahead; Le'Veon Bell is much better than anybody Buffalo can feature in its rushing attack, and Gregg Williams' defense hopes to be as loud on the field this season as the coordinator is on the sideline. The Jets should beat the Bills in their fancy new uniforms. Again, though — weird Week 1 division game.