During the season, Bent's Game Analysis charts games for some of the Jets' upcoming opponents, enabling a breakdown of what to watch out for on gameday…
This is a huge game for both teams. Whoever loses tonight will be 0-2 and staring down the barrel of a potential lost season. You'll recall what happened last season between these teams, as the Bills won 22-17 both times, in a pair of sloppy games where the Jets recovered late from a rough start in each game and had a chance to win down the stretch. Bills coach Rex Ryan seemed to take extra personal enjoyment from beating his old team, and you can bet he'll have some surprises in store for Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets defensively. A win for the Jets could get their season back on track, but it isn't going to be easy.
After the jump, I break down the positional groupings (BGA-style!) to try and highlight what to watch out for.
Tyrod Taylor put together a solid statistical season in 2015, his first year as a full-time starter. With a quarterback rating of just under 100 for the year, Taylor earned himself an extension worth over $90 million, which he signed in August. Taylor has a good arm and is one of the more mobile quarterbacks in the league, but was stymied in the first game of the season, as the Ravens held him to just 111 yards through the air.
Against the Jets last year, Taylor was held to under 200 passing yards in each game, but didn't throw an interception and also contributed 127 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
The Bills' number two is former top-10 pick EJ Manuel. However, Manuel looked poor in the preseason and their fans are more excited about rookie Cardale Jones, who showed some raw potential. All three bring similar athletic attributes to the table.
The strength of the Bills' line could be compromised by the news that Cordy Glenn has been ruled out. Glenn is their most important pass protector, having given up just two sacks last year protecting the blind side. When Glenn was hurt last week, former second-round pick Cyrus Kouandjio filled in and held up reasonably well, though. He had also received a couple of spot starts last season.
Last season, the right side of the Bills line really struggled with John Miller at right guard and Seantrel Henderson starting off at right tackle before being replaced later in the season by Jordan Mills without much in the way of an improvement. The Bills have elected to stay pat at this position, though, and Henderson's suspension means that the Miller-Mills partnership will continue for the time being.
Veterans Eric Wood and Richie Incognito also resume their partnership in the final two spots, so at least the Bills can boast some good continuity and are strong up the middle. The bench doesn't offer much comfort, though. Ryan Groy has hardly played other than three meaningless spot starts at the end of his rookie season with the Bears in 2014, and Patrick Lewis struggled last year when called upon to start nine games with the Seahawks.
It remains to be seen how much LeSean McCoy has left in the tank, but he contributed just 70 yards and a touchdown on 20 touches in the opener. McCoy ran for 895 yards last year and also caught 32 passes. While that was a drop-off from his previous annual production, it's not bad considering he missed four starts.
It's not entirely clear what the plan is behind McCoy because the Bills ran fewer than 50 offensive plays on Sunday. They signed Reggie Bush and have been trying to feature him, but he so far hasn't been looking like the same player he once was.
The Bills got some terrific production last year from rookie Karlos Williams - who led the team with nine touchdowns - and Mike Gillislee - who came out of nowhere and showed a propensity for breaking long touchdown runs. Williams was suspended and then released, but Gillislee remains with the team as a reserve. Bills fans have been hoping to see more of Gillislee, but as Jets fans will know, it can take time for a young player to earn Rex Ryan's trust.
At fullback, the Bills opened up the season with Glenn Gronkowski in the role, only to cut him after the first game and replace him with the previous starter, veteran Jerome Felton.
One of the major storylines from last year's season finale was the inability of Darrelle Revis to cover Sammy Watkins. That's since been explained away by the wrist injury Revis was playing with at the time, although Revis had similar struggles against AJ Green this past weekend. The good news for the Jets is that Watkins is dealing with a foot injury and will probably be limited, even if he plays.
Behind Watkins, their next best pass catching threat is probably tight end Charles Clay, who caught 51 passes last season, but has been dealing with a knee issue of his own. The number one receiver would be Robert Woods. Both Clay and Woods actually missed the season finale last year, but Woods exploded for a career high nine catches and 118 yards in a blowout over the Jets in 2014.
The rest of their group will hardly strike fear into anyone with their career numbers, but they do have some players with dangerous speed, led by Marquise Goodwin. Two familiar faces - former Jets Greg Salas and Walt Powell are next up on the depth chart, although Powell's spot might be in jeopardy already due to the recent signing of veteran return man Brandon Tate.
Clay's backups at tight end are former Cardinal Jim Dray and second-year man Nick O'Leary, neither of who caught a pass on Sunday.
The Bills' defensive line took a major hit in the offseason when it was announced that Marcell Dareus had once again been suspended. The good news for the Bills is that Kyle Williams is back healthy, which should present a challenge for the Jets running game because he's one of the best in the business.
They don't have a lot of big name talent on the line otherwise though. Former Jet Leger Douzable was one of their best performers on Sunday, although veteran Corbin Bryant and promising rookie Adolphus Washington are listed as the other two starters with Williams.
The Bills' linebacking corps might have a bright future, but right now the group is to some extent patched together with a fill-ins and journeymen. Rookies Shaq Lawson and Reggie Ragland were both supposed to rectify this, but both are injured. Veteran Manny Lawson, the strong side outside linebacker for the past few years was suspended and then released during the offseason and former Jet IK Enemkpali, who was supposed in the mix to start, also got hurt.
The group is led by Jerry Hughes, who had double digit sacks in 2013 and 2014, but saw his production drop off in Ryan's first season. However, after causing controversy by having to get an Uber to the game last week after missing the team bus, he registered two sacks in their first game.
The only other returning starter is Preston Brown, who graded out as the worst inside linebacker in the NFL last year, according to Pro Football Focus. He presumably would have been a candidate to be replaced by Ragland, who has a similar build.
Alongside Brown is another Brown, the versatile former Titan Zach Brown. The strong side position is currently manned by Lorenzo Alexander, who entered the season having not started a game since September 2013, when he suffered a season-ending Lisfranc injury. He had opened that season as the starter for the Cardinals with Todd Bowles as his defensive coordinator.
On the bench the Bills have a couple of experienced veterans in Ramon Humber and Brandon Spikes, but former Bronco Larentee McCray saw more action than either of them on Sunday.
The cornerback position could prove to be a strength for the Bills this year. Both Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby got off to good starts on Sunday, although Gilmore did give up one long pass play. In the offseason, Ryan was extremely complimentary of Gilmore - a player seeking a big money deal - in the offseason, proving he's learned little from the Revis contract fiasco. As for Darby, he proved to be a good find in last year's draft.
The Bills once again begin the year with Aaron Williams and Corey Graham as their starting safeties, although Williams only ended up playing three times last year, so they perhaps haven't had a chance to form a solid partnership yet.
The Bills used five reserve defensive backs on defense in the first game, including Duke Williams - who started four games alongside Graham last year - and Nickell Robey-Coleman, their best slot corner.
The Bills kept their kicking game personnel the same, with former Jet Dan Carpenter as the placekicker, Jordan Gay the kickoff specialist and Colton Schmidt the punter. Carpenter missed his only field goal attempt in week one. Interestingly, Gay didn't kick a touchback on either of his kickoffs against Baltimore and the average start line for the Ravens was the 18-and-a-half.
Schmidt had an up and down season last year and the Bills unit almost cost them the game in their first meeting with the Jets when a bad snap gave the Jets the ball inside the red zone with a chance to win.
In the return game, Bush, Tate and Powell are all candidates to be involved, although Powell was inactive in week one.
In coverage, the Bills have one of the best coverage guys in the league in Marcus Easley, but he's out injured. Back-up safety Jonathan Meeks is one to watch out for in coverage.
I'll be back tomorrow to recap the game.
Stats from PFF were used in the completion of this article.