With a new head coach, a new star running back and a second-year quarterback poised to take the next step, there is some optimism surrounding the New York Jets entering the 2019 season. Their bid to end an eight-year playoff drought begins Sunday at home against the AFC East rival Buffalo Bills.
Adam Gase was brought to New York to patrol the sidelines after three years at the helm in Miami, and he hopes for good things out of Le'Veon Bell -- who sat out last year after compiling nearly 2,000 total yards with Pittsburgh in 2017 -- and signal-caller Sam Darnold. "We'll probably have some ups and downs and some adversity, but we'll figure out what kind of team we have, especially in that first quarter of the season," Gase recently told reporters. The Bills will be leaning on a second-year quarterback of their own in Josh Allen, who threw for 2,074 yards in 12 games and electrified the offense at times with his legs, rushing for 631 yards and eight touchdowns. Included in Allen's promising rookie campaign was a matchup with the Jets on Dec. 9 in which he ran nine times for 101 yards and a score.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Jets -3. O/U: 40.5
ABOUT THE BILLS (2018: 6-10, 3RD IN AFC EAST): Allen will look for support from a backfield that jettisoned veteran LeSean McCoy last weekend and has new faces in the ageless Frank Gore and rookie standout Devin Singletary. Cole Beasley, who had 65 catches a year ago with Dallas, gives Allen a seasoned target in the slot, and former 1,000-yard man John Brown also joins the receving corps. Rookie defensive tackle Ed Oliver had a strong preseason and will be a key cog in a promising defense that allowed just 294.1 yards per game last year -- second-fewest in the NFL.
ABOUT THE JETS (2018: 4-12, 4TH IN AFC EAST): For his part, Bell seems more than ready to reassert himself as one of the league's top backs, despite having not played in almost 19 months and seeing no game action in the preseason. "I can carry 50 (times) if you ask me," Bell told reporters. "When I say, 'Don't hold back,' I mean literally that. I don't want to go out there and try to sprinkle me in or anything like that. I'm ready to play football. I've been waiting a long time for this moment. A lot of people are excited to see me play. Quadruple that, and that's how I feel." Bell will be trying to revive a ground attack that ranked 29th in the NFL in yards per carry (4.0) in 2018 and was held to 90 yards or fewer eight times in the final 10 games.
1. Darnold was 16-for-24 for 170 yards with a TD and an interception in his one meeting with the Bills as a rookie.
2. Buffalo has won three of its last five games in New York, including a 41-10 laugher last November in which it outgained the Jets 451-199.
3. The divisional foes do not meet again until a Week 17 matchup in Buffalo on Dec. 29.
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Key Players to Watch
New York Jets
- Poss. SuspensionQues Week 1 | questionable
Williams is facing possible league discipline for an off-field incident during the offseason. It is unknown if he will be available against the Bills in Week 1.