New York Jets vs. Buffalo Bills: Key matchups for Week 1
By Alex Varallo
The first test of the 2017 season will be against the AFC East rival Buffalo Bills. The New York Jets will have to focus on many key battles if they intend to win.
Right from the start, the offensive line of the New York Jets as a whole will have their hands full against the defensive front of the Buffalo Bills. One of the strong points for the Bills is their defensive linemen.
Wesley Johnson will have the responsibility to handle run stuffers Marcel Dareus and Kyle Williams. Ben Ijalana will be pressed by sophomore defensive end Shaq Lawson. Lawson came into 2016 with an injury, so he looks to make a claim for himself this season.
The Jets will also have to contain eight-year veteran Jerry Hughes from getting to the quarterback. The outcome of our offensive success will be determined on how well the offensive line can protect Josh McCown and open lanes for their ball carriers.
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The next key matchup will be between the younger and less experienced Jets’ wide receivers vs. the Bills’ revamped young but talented secondary.
Safety Micah Hyde was acquired from the Green Bay Packers, but Ronald Darby was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles, and Stephon Gilmore signed with the New England Patriots during the offseason.
The Bills will now have to rely on rookie cornerback TreDavious White to hold his own vs. the young wide receivers of the Jets.
This may create opportunities for Jets’ rookies Jordan Leggett, Chad Hansen and ArDarius Stewart. Newly acquired Jermaine Kearse, Jeremy Kerley and Will Tye have had less than a week to learn the playbook, so a lot will be expected from Robby Anderson.
Hansen and Stewart have been heating up as of late, so if they can surprise the Bills early this can open up windows for Leggett. The Jets need a presence at tight end until Austin Seferian-Jenkins gets back from his two-week suspension. Hopefully, Tye and Leggett are up for the challenge.
In the past, the Jets have been known for starting games slow and sluggish. It will be key for the Jets to come out of the tunnel red hot and focused. The passing game has not looked good this preseason, so maybe they should try to attack the Bills and jump out to an early lead. Ultimately, the Jets want to establish the run, control the clock, and manage the tempo of the game.
The Bills have a strong running game and depend on their defense to keep them close, very much like the Jets. The plan should be to take over the game quickly and put pressure on the Bills to play at their pace. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor has been injured as of late, so his status is uncertain. Next man up would be Nathan Peterman, a rookie from Pittsburgh.
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Jets should hit the gas first when they take the field for the first time and look for Anderson or Stewart to score early. The plan will be to take control, protect the football, and try to run the ball with Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire. If the Jets can be smart, limit the turnovers, and win their key matchups, then they might possibly walk out of Buffalo with a win.