Aaron Rodgers, New York Jets
Aaron Rodgers, New York Jets, Getty Images

The New York Jets can take advantage of a pressure-laden Bills team

The biggest battle for New York since “The Avengers” will be staged in New Jersey. Months of unprecedented hype finally have an endgame, as the New York Jets will kick off one of the most anticipated seasons in franchise history. Their opponent is formidable in the three-time defending AFC East champion Buffalo Bills on Monday night at MetLife Stadium.

Monday will mark the official debut of Aaron Rodgers as Gang Green’s starting quarterback. His collaborations with the Jets’ young offensive core have been highly touted through nearly every form of NFL offseason media and have set long-lost postseason aspirations and expectations for New York.

Rodgers, along with his new (and old) comrades, will be thrown into the fire immediately. They’ll face a Western New York group likely seething over its lack of meaningful accolades beyond division titles despite a fruitful start to the decade. Since the 2020 season kicked off, Buffalo has won 37 regular season games, second-most in the NFL behind Kansas City.

Monday’s game will serve as the first half of the annual pair between the Jets and Bills. Last season saw the Jets earn their first victory against the wagon-circlers since 2019, taking a 20-17 decision in East Rutherford behind five sacks of Josh Allen and a Michael Carter touchdown. New York has not swept Buffalo since 2016.

What: Buffalo Bills (0-0) @ New York Jets (0-0)
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
When: Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN/ABC
Who: Buffalo -2

What’s New in Buffalo?

The primary offseason narrative in Buffalo is a sense of growing frustration after enduring another year without a Super Bowl despite tying a franchise record with 13 wins last season. That was apparent in the latest elimination, one that saw Stefon Diggs noticeably dig into franchise quarterback Josh Allen during the Divisional Playoff loss in Cincinnati. Most major figures in Orchard Park have insisted there are no issues as kickoff looms, but there needs to be definitive proof of that moving forward.

From an on-field perspective, the Bills are rolling into the new year with what’s mostly the same cast of characters, among them Allen, Diggs, Gabriel Davis, and Dawson Knox. The most notable changes appear in the run game, with 2022 first-round pick James Cook taking over for Devin Singletary, while Leonard Floyd joins the pass rush from the Rams. The Bills also added tight end Dalton Kincaid, who could take over for Knox as the No. 1.

How to Beat the Bills

New York Jets fans from the United Kingdom expressed the hopes and dreams of their compatriots across the globe.

Reward fans’ efforts

It’d hardly be hyperbole to call Monday’s game one of the most hyped in Jets history: almost every offseason conversation has somehow involved the Jets and Sundays’ lack of visits to the end zone at MetLife Stadium should only raise expectations and joy among the long-suffering green metropolitan fanbase. Another heroic New Yorker was once told, however, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

From the get-go, the Jets-Bills game was one of the most unpredictable on the Week 1 schedule. Nothing more needs to be said about the Jets’ recent struggles within the division, but this is an entirely new team—one that will take some getting used to from both an external and internal perspective. The seasonal expectations will work themselves out, but working out the kinks of a new unit, particularly on offense, could take some time before reaping the big results.

It will thus be vital for the Jets to get off to a good start on Monday, one that will justify the fans’ expected volume. A strong start will also shake the foundation of a Bills team that’s facing major worries of its own, which likely would have already surfaced if they didn’t have the “small-market, big fan” label to protect them.

Pressure will undoubtedly be placed on the Jets this season and many have been quick to issue the championship-or-bust label. Whether that pressure is fully justified is another conversation entirely (particularly thanks to Rodgers’ verbal multi-year commitment) but the Jets have little to lose compared to the plight of the Bills. Fans will no doubt ensure that MetLife starts loud. Whether it stays loud is up to the Jets and the Jets alone.

Make them pay through the air

Any discussion about particular matchups in Monday’s game will likely center upon Sauce Gardner (who earned an interception of Allen in Buffalo’s last visit) lining up next to Diggs. That, however, somewhat deflects from uncomfortable conversations about the Bills’ own secondary.

The understandable and legitimate joy of Damar Hamlin (who will not play on Monday) returning to NFL action less than a year after his horrifying medical episode in January has somewhat masked Buffalo’s lack of depth in the secondary. Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer have made themselves into Western New York staples, but the departures of Jaquan Johnson and Dean Marlowe forced the Bills to bring in Taylor Rapp from the Los Angeles Rams.

At cornerback, Buffalo has accompanied Tre’Davious White with Day 3 draft picks like Christian Benford and Dane Jackson. The Bills have high hopes for each but growing pains in new spotlighted surroundings should be expected. Even some of the premier talents have struggled: White has been held back by numerous injuries, while Kaiir Elam failed to live up to his first-round billing last year.

Again, the Jets’ offense should take some getting used to, as there are so many new moving parts. Even some returnees, such as Breece Hall back from injury, may not be fully up to speed (pun intended). But that shouldn’t stop the Jets from taking some deep chances down the field, especially with a long specialist like Rodgers in tow. It perhaps wouldn’t be wise to expect a fantasy football win from any of the Jets’ participants on Monday, but the Jets do have a major opportunity to make a good first impression despite facing a formidable foe.


  • Geoff Magliocchetti: Expect a respectable effort against a perennial new-decade contender to headline the start of the Rodgers era. Bills 23, Jets 17
  • Rivka Boord: Without Von Miller, the Bills’ defense will not be able to affect Rodgers enough to prevent him from pulling ahead. A close victory to start. Jets 23, Bills 17
  • Andrew Golden: Tyler Conklin and Dalvin Cook take advantage of the Bills’ linebackers, and a late Greg Zuerlein field goal seals the win. Jets 20, Bills 17
  • Oliver Cochrane: Jets 24, Bills 20

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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Geoff Magliocchetti is a veteran football writer with years of credentialed experience with the Jets and Giants. Email: geoffmags90@gmail.com
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