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NY Jets will dodge a bullet vs. Bills in Week 1

NY Jets, Bills, Injuries, Von Miller
Von Miller, Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills defense will be depleted when they visit the New York Jets

The season-opening Monday Night Football matchup between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets just took a major turn.

Buffalo is leaving eight-time Pro Bowl edge rusher Von Miller on the Physically Unable to Perform list past Tuesday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline. This means Miller is ineligible to be activated until the fifth game of the season – officially ruling him out for the season opener at MetLife Stadium.

Miller tore his ACL in a game against the Detroit Lions last Thanksgiving. Throughout this year, Miller and the Bills held out hope that he would return in time for the season opener, but that will not be the case.

However, since he is staying on the PUP list (rather than injured reserve), it seems the Bills believe he will likely return at some point in the first half of the season.

The absence of Miller will be a significant game-changer in Week 1. Last season, Buffalo’s pass rush drastically worsened after Miller left the lineup.

According to NFL Next Gen Stats, here is how the Bills’ pass rush performed in Weeks 1-11 compared to Weeks 12-18 (Miller got hurt in Week 12 but only played 28% of the snaps prior to injury):

  • Weeks 1-11: 7.4% sack rate (13th in NFL), 31.6% pressure rate (4th)
  • Weeks 12-18: 5.2% sack rate (24th), 24.3% pressure rate (26th)

Buffalo was generating pressure at a top-five rate with a healthy Miller. Without him, they dropped to seventh-worst. The Bills’ sack production also dropped by 11 spots.

Miller made his presence felt in Buffalo’s last trip to the Meadowlands, recording a strip sack on Zach Wilson in a 20-17 Jets victory. It continued his career-long run of success against the Jets. In six career games against New York, Miller has 6.5 sacks, 12 quarterback hits, three passes defended, and 10 tackles for loss.

With Miller sidelined, the Bills’ projected starters on the edge are Leonard Floyd and Greg Rousseau. A.J. Epenesa and Shaq Lawson will also be featured heavily in the Bills’ edge rotation. Boogie Basham was a fixture in this rotation last year, but he was traded to the Giants earlier today.

Floyd, who had nine sacks and 22 quarterback hits for the Rams last season, was signed to a one-year, $7 million contract in June. He will help the Bills survive the absence of Miller better than they did last year. Floyd has recorded at least nine sacks in three consecutive seasons.

Buffalo’s deep rotation of edge rushers will go to battle against the Jets’ starting tackle duo of Duane Brown and Mekhi Becton.

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