It was a rough start to the 2016 NFL season for both the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills, and things will get even tougher for one of those teams in Week 2. The AFC East rivals are set to meet on “Thursday Night Football,” virtually guaranteeing that one will begin the season in an early hole with a 0-2 record.
The Jets suffered a heartbreaking loss in their home opener, falling 23-22 to the Cincinnati Bengals, who took the lead on a field goal with 40 seconds remaining. The Bills were within one score of the Baltimore Ravens for their entire Week 1 game, but they lost 13-7 after being unable to put together a second-half scoring drive.
While both teams are still looking for their first win, New York appears to be in a much better position heading into Thursday’s contest.
Despite the loss, the Jets played well enough to defeat one of the AFC’s best teams. New York was hurt by mistakes from their special teams—Nick Folk missed an extra point and had a 22-yard field goal blocked—that will be rare occurrences throughout the season.
Andy Dalton put up big numbers on Sunday, completing 76.7 percent of his passes for 366 yards, but those statistics only tell half the story. New York put pressure on him all game long, sacking the quarterback seven times for a loss of 42 total yards. The Jets’ defensive front was about as dominant as any unit in the NFL on Sunday, led by Leonard Williams, who had 2.5 sacks and five quarterback hits.
New York’s front seven didn’t let the Bengals develop any kind of a running game, and that could be a theme in Buffalo on Thursday night. The Bills totaled just 65 yards on 24 carries in Baltimore, and Buffalo might need a sizeable contribution from running back LeSean McCoy against the Jets.
Tyrod Taylor’s 111 passing yards were the lowest total of any quarterback in Week 1, and he enters Thursday night’s game with question marks surrounding his top target. Sammy Watkins reportedly has pain in his foot that underwent surgery in the offseason, and he only has a few days to rest because of the short week. Watkins won’t require another procedure, but The New York Daily News reports that he could be shut down for several weeks.
Watkins was instrumental in Buffalo’s Week 17 win over New York last year that kept the Jets out of the playoffs. He caught 11 passes for 136 yards, and a healthy Watkins could have an opportunity for a repeat performance on Thursday.
Darrelle Revis, long regarded as one of the NFL’s top cornerbacks, picked up right where he left off last season. Just as he was unable to keep the ball out of Watkins’ hands, Revis allowed Cincinnati’s A.J. Green to become the league’s leading receiver in Week 1. Green recorded 12 receptions for 180 yards, and he caught all 10 passes that were sent his way when he was covered by Revis. The cornerback should perform better in Week 2, but it should no longer come as a surprise if the opposing team’s No.1 receiver gets the better of him.
Even when the Jets had a top-five overall defense a year ago, they ranked near the middle of the pack against the pass. Unfortunately for the Bills, it’s looking like their No.1 receiver won’t be at 100 percent, and they’ve had one of the NFL’s worst passing attacks since Taylor took over as the starting quarterback.
The Bills opened the week as 2.5-point favorites, but the betting line has moved down to 1.5 points, via OddsShark. The Bills might not even be favored by the time the game kicks off on Thursday, and the over/under has gone from 42.5 to 41 points in what's expected to be a low-scoring affair.
Prediction: New York over Buffalo, 23-17