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Top 6 storylines to follow for Bills at Jets | Week 1


After more than seven months of waiting, we are finally back. Week 1 is here, and it's an exciting one. The Bills are kicking off their 2023 season on Monday night against a division opponent in the Jets. 

Here are 6 things to know about the premiere Monday night matchup.

1. Turning the page to 2023

The Jets and Bills welcomed several new faces to their rosters this offseason with the hopes that these new additions can help make their team better in 2023. The Bills finished last season with a 13-3 record and a first-place finish in the AFC East. The Jets finished 2022 with a 7-10 record and a fourth-place finish in the division.

During the 2022 season, the Bills averaged 28.4 points per game (2nd in the NFL), 397.6 total yards per game (2nd), 258.2 passing yards per game (7th), 139.5 rushing yards per game (7th) and scored touchdowns in the red zone 60.3% of the time (9th). They hope to take their high-flying offense to the next level this year with additions to the team like Dalton Kincaid, Trent Sherfield, Deonte Harty, Damien Harris, Connor McGovern and O'Cyrus Torrence.

On defense, Buffalo allowed an average of 17.9 points per game (2nd), 319.1 total yards per game (6th), forced 27 takeaways (tied for 4th) and allowed a 44.9% efficiency rate in the red zone (2nd). Additions like Leonard Floyd, Poona Ford and Taylor Rapp will aim to help Buffalo's defense take the next step in 2023.

During the 2022 season, the Jets averaged 17.4 points per game (29th), 318.2 total yards per game (25th), 219 passing yards per game (15th), 99.2 rushing yards per game (tied for 25th) and scored touchdowns in the red zone 43.5% of the time (31st). The team is hoping a four-time first-team All-Pro in Aaron Rodgers and weapons like Dalvin Cook, Allen Lazard and Mecole Hardman will flip the script for the offense.

On defense, the Jets allowed an average of 18.6 points per game (4th), 311.1 total yards per game (4th), racked up 121 quarterback hits (1st), 47 sacks (tied for 7th) and allowed a 47.8% efficiency rate in the red zone (4th). They are hoping to be one of the best defensive line's again this year with additions in the offseason like first-rounder Will McDonald IV.

2. Josh Allen on the MNF stage

Josh Allen is money on the primetime stage. He's won 11 out of his 14 games in the primetime window. When you look at Monday night, the QB has won three out of five.

The wins have been against the 49ers (Week 13, 2020), Patriots (Week 16, 2020) and Titans (Week 6, 2021). The losses have been against the Titans (Week 6, 2021) and the Patriots (Week 13, 2021).

In Monday night games, Allen has averaged a 70.7% completion percentage, 302 passing yards per game, 3.2 passing touchdowns per game and a 119.7 passer rating. He has thrown 16 passing touchdowns to just one interception in those five games. The Bills have also averaged 25.7 points per game on Monday night since 2018.

In the primetime window, Allen has averaged a 66.7% completion percentage, 269.1 passing yards per game, 2.8 passing touchdowns per game and a 107.6 passer rating. The QB has thrown 39 passing touchdowns to 11 interceptions in his 14 primetime appearances.

Even though the Jets had one of the best defenses last season and look to be at that level again in 2023, Allen consistently turns it up a notch when the lights are bright.

3. Aaron Rodgers vs. Buffalo

Jets QB Aaron Rodgers has played the Bills twice since Sean McDermott was named the head coach in 2017. The first matchup was during the 2018 season in Week 4 where the Packers defeated the Bills 22-0. Rodgers went 22 of 40 (55%) for 298 passing yards and threw for one touchdown and one interception. That game also marked Josh Allen's third start of his NFL career.

The second matchup took place last season in Week 8 where the Bills beat the Packers 27-17. Rodgers completed 19 of 30 (63.3%) passing attempts for 203 passing yards and threw for two touchdowns and one interception. Allen went 13 of 25 (52%) for 218 passing yards and threw two passing touchdowns and two interceptions.

The four-time MVP will have his debut with his new team in the Jets on Monday night, and Jets fans can't wait to watch the new and improved offense. Rodgers does have some familiarity with the Jets because Nathaniel Hackett, who was his offensive coordinator in Green Bay from 2019 to 2021, is now the Jets OC. Rodgers also has former Packers teammates in Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb to throw to as well.

But, they'll have to go through the NFL's second-best defense from last year and Buffalo returns many of the same faces from a year ago.

"The problem is they're playing against one of the best defenses the league has seen in the last couple of years in the Buffalo Bills," former Jets safety and current analyst Erik Coleman said on One Bills Live. "The Bills do a great job on defense. They don't give up a lot of big plays, they're very aggressive, they're stout against the run, so that's going to pose a lot questions for this Jets team. But I will say with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, he is going to do a great job at managing what they do. I think the ground game is going to be important for this Jets team, and they'll go as far as the ground game goes."

4. Damar Hamlin's return to Monday night

Safety Damar Hamlin will make his return to the field on Monday night, and this time the game counts. Hamlin has played in all three preseason games but has yet to play in a regular season game since his cardiac arrest which occurred on Monday, Jan. 2 in Buffalo's Week 17 game against the Bengals.

Hamlin had 10 total tackles in his three preseason games. The safety says he's still taking everything day by day but is proud to have made it this far in his recovery.

"It's kind of like proving it to myself and just accepting a challenge of just being able to go through something so tough and just to be able to come back and overcome that," Hamlin said after his first preseason game back. "And then just to prove to yourself that nothing can stop you from doing what you want to do and reaching the heights that you want to reach. So, kind of just proving something within myself. And today was just the first step in that, so it'll be a long road, long journey as far as the goals that I've got for myself in this game."

Hamlin said there will be some nerves before Monday's game but that's nothing out of the ordinary for him.

"When I'm feeling those nerves and I'm feeling those emotions, it just means I really love this," Hamlin said. "I love this. I want to be here. I want to play. I want to do good. I want to be one of the greats. I want to be remembered as somebody who stood for something and who made a difference when I was out there on the field."

5. Jets ties -- former teammates and brothers

Safety Micah Hyde will square off against his former teammate in Aaron Rodgers in the first week of the 2023 season. The two played on the Packers together from 2013-2016 and made it to the playoffs in all four seasons. Rodgers also won MVP in 2014 and was a Pro Bowler in three out of the four seasons they played together.

Hyde is looking forward to facing a player like Rodgers at least twice a year because of the opportunities it brings for things like growth.

"He's a Hall of Famer, one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game," Hyde said. "Just the way he approaches the game is very unique. Just being with him all those years, I think the one year we might have had four wins and six losses and said, 'Relax'. The media blew that up and then we ended up winning like eight straight. He's never too high, never too low, always right there and always trying to improve. He's heading to a division rival, so I think it'll be fun to have to play these guys two, maybe three times a year. It's going to really test us. It's going to make us better, so I'm excited for the opportunity to go out there and do it."

It's not just Hyde who has ties to the AFC East foe. James Cook might have the tightest connection with one of the Jets players – his brother Dalvin Cook.

While Cook is new to the Jets, it won't be the first time they face each other. The Cook brothers played each other last season in Week 10 when the Bills hosted the Vikings. In that game, Dalvin racked up 14 attempts for 119 rushing yards and scored one rushing touchdown in an overtime win for the Vikings.

Before Dalvin became a Jet, James was asked of the chances of facing his brother twice a year. James said the goal will remain the same whether he sees him twice a year or once every few seasons.

"It's no different," Cook shared. "I'm trying to beat him, too, just like he beat me."

6. Bills back on the ManningCast

The ManningCast is back for their third year. The show, which features Hall of Famer Peyton Manning and two-time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning, will return for the Bills vs. Jets game on Monday night.

It'll be Buffalo's second appearance on the show with their first coming in 2021 when the Bills hosted the Patriots in a Week 13 "wind game" and lost 14-10. 

The stars of the show are the Manning brothers who give their take on the game in real time while welcoming some of the biggest names in sports and Hollywood as their guests.

The Bills will also be on ManningCast for Week 10 (Nov. 13) when they host the Broncos on Monday night. You can watch the show on ESPN2.

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