It's finally here.
Opening day in Buffalo is special – no matter what the record projections for the Bills say. There's nothing quite like walking through the parking lots at New Era Field and seeing friends and family enjoying each other's company. The good times should continue after kickoff against the New York Jets, who project to be one of the worst teams in the NFL.
"I’ll be very, I think, humbled by the opportunity and thankful," Bills coach Sean McDermott said. "This is one of the reasons why we came here, was to win football games. To be able to perform in front of these fans and the passionate fan base that we have. To get this stadium back to where it belongs, in terms of our home field advantage, and we look forward to getting out there this weekend in front of our fans. We look forward to making this a very hostile place and a place that people really don’t want to come to and when they travel down One Bills Drive that they know what this is about. Our guys understand that."
Here is everything you need to know for Sunday's game, as well as five things we'll be looking for:
• Radio: Bills Radio Network. Buffalo-WGR 550 AM; Toronto-Fan 590 AM; Rochester-WCMF 96.5 FM and WROC 950 AM; Syracuse-WTKW 99.5 FM and WTKV 105.5 FM. Announcers: John Murphy (play by play), Mark Kelso (color analyst).
• Series history: Bills lead, 59-53. The Bills are just 3-8 when playing the Jets on Kickoff Weekend, and haven't won since 1981 in that situation.
• Uni watch: The Bills are going with blue jerseys against the Jets. In order to get ready for that change, the offense wore blue in practice, so quarterbacks could get used to throwing to that color.
• Did you know? Former Bills running back O.J. Simpson ran for 250 yards on Sept. 16, 1973 – setting a Week One record.
• Next up: It's homecoming week for Bills General Manager Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott, as they return to Carolina. The Bills meet the Panthers at 1 p.m. Sept. 17.
Here are five things to watch for against the Jets:
1. Is Tyrod Taylor on the same page with his receivers? It would be understandable if he's not. Projected No. 1 receiver Jordan Matthews missed all of training camp because of a sternum injury after coming over from Philadelphia in a trade. Taylor himself missed more than a week of practice after suffering a concussion against the Ravens in the third preseason game. All of that has led to precious little practice time. The Bills might be able to beat the Jets with just a running game, but soon enough they'll need Taylor to do more than just be the "1/11th" coach Sean McDermott said he wants him to be this week.
2. Will the Jets target Tre'Davious White? The Bills' No. 1 cornerback is a rookie. Even though White has had a solid summer, it's reasonable to expect New York to challenge him in his first regular-season game. It would be natural for the rookie to have at least some nerves before his first professional game.
3. Is Shaq Lawson ready to break out? The second-year defensive end impressed throughout the preseason, looking at home at defensive end in McDermott's 4-3 scheme. The Jets' offensive line gave up 11 sacks in the preseason and is thought to be a weakness. Lawson and fellow defensive end Jerry Hughes need to take advantage.
4. How aggressive is McDermott in his first game? Will he, please, not punt on fourth and short from Jets' territory? I'm not holding my breath, but Sunday will give us our first look at the approach McDermott takes in a game that counts. Clock management, use of challenges and any issues with penalties will be closely tracked.
5. Just how much work can Shady handle? McDermott saying the Bills would use LeSean McCoy on "every snap" if that's what it took to win made headlines, but everyone knows that's not realistic. So who comes in when they have to spell Shady. The guess is Mike Tolbert gets short-yardage work and Joe Banyard takes "regular" carries when McCoy comes out.