Here are the details you need to know for Buffalo Bills' season-opener against the New York Jets Sunday at MetLife Stadium:
*TV: CBS. Announcers: Kevin Harlan (play-by-play), Rich Gannon (color analyst).
*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), Eric Wood (color analyst).
*Series history: Bills lead 61-55. They're 2-2 against the Jets under Sean McDermott.
*Bills injury report: Out: WR Andre Roberts (quad). Doubtful: TE Tyler Kroft (foot). Jets injury report: Questionable: WR Robby Anderson (calf), WR Braxton Berrios (hamstring), CB Trumaine Johnson (hamstring).
*Point spread: The Jets are 3-point favorites at footballlocks.com.
*Did you know: This the 13th time the Bills and Jets have faced each other to open the season. That ties them with the Bears and Packers for the NFL’s most frequent opening-week match up since 1960.
*Next up: A return to MetLife Stadium next Sunday to face the New York Giants.
Here are my five takes on Sunday's game:
1. No more guessing, no more projecting. Whatever Josh Allen is as a second-year NFL quarterback will finally be on full display.
Even through some uneven play in his brief preseason appearances, Allen showed signs that he has progressed from the mostly raw rookie he was a year ago. At times, he displayed exceptional patience in the pocket and allowed the game to come to him, especially when he worked the short and intermediate passing game to near perfection at Carolina.
Sunday's circumstances are vastly different, of course.
As first games go, it's not an ideal setting for Allen. Besides being on the road, he also must cope with the highly aggressive blitzing that new Jets defensive coordinator and former Bills coach Gregg Williams is expected to employ. And you can bet Williams won't waste any time getting after Allen, taking full advantage of the crowd noise that tends to only last as long as the Jets are in the game. The fans won't hesitate to quickly turn on the home team and/or head for the exits if the Bills take control early.
Allen must maintain poise and trust his decision-making. He'll have to make the most out of his three-step drop throws and his screen game.
And, by all means, Allen has to keep his running to a minimum. If he becomes a moving target too often, Williams has undoubtedly made it his mission to make him pay the price.
2. The Bills' defense must make amends for that weak showing in last year's lone encounter with Jets quarterback Sam Darnold.
On the way to a 27-23 loss at New Era Field, the Bills didn't get a single hit on Darnold. And that had plenty to do with his ability to help rally the Jets from a 14-3 first-quarter deficit and lead the game-winning touchdown drive.
As with Allen, Darnold now has a year under his belt and will be even more difficult to rattle. Therefore, the Bills' defense has to demonstrate, with 10 returning starters, it is a better and more consistent unit capable of flustering even the most experienced quarterbacks.
The front seven should have considerably more success against the Jets' so-so offensive line. Expect rookie Ed Oliver to get some good inside pressure and, along with fellow tackles Star Lotulelei and Jordan Phillips, help open things up for Jerry Hughes, Trent Murphy and Shaq Lawson from the edge. With a better grasp of the scheme and the opponent, second-year middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds also figures to have an impact.
If Darnold is sufficiently harassed in the pocket, he should struggle to make plays against one of the best secondaries in the NFL. If not, that will likely spell trouble for the Bills.
3. Let the committee running commence.
Don't look for an individual running back to necessarily lead the way for the Bills. At the moment, they're not built that way.
Against the Jets, it especially makes sense to have rookie Devin Singletary sharing the load as evenly as possible with veterans Frank Gore and T.J. Yeldon.
In blitzing situations, the Bills would seemingly have more faith in Gore's ability to anticipate who is coming and from where, and apply the proper blocking technique. Singletary and Gore will probably rotate the most based on situations, with Singletary doing the bulk of the work on early downs. Yeldon should be more of a factor on third down, especially in the passing game.
With the Jets frequently looking to bring pressure, it will be up to the backs to get open and for Allen to find them.
This game will provide at least an initial sense of how much the Bills' O-line overhaul will impact their running game. As challenging as it will be for the linemen to handle the exceptionally talented players on the Jets' defensive line in pass protection, it will actually be more vital that they're able to win the one-on-one battles and open holes so that the running game can at least slow down the Jets' rush. There has to be an answer for newly acquired linebacker C.J. Mosley, who is responsible for making all of the on-field calls and adjustments for the Jets' D.
4. How large of an impact will Le'Veon Bell make in his Jets debut?
Bell is easily one of the most talented backs in the NFL. Some would argue he's the very best.
His added skills as a receiver make him far more dangerous than other backs. He's remarkably explosive and instinctive, and able to go the distance whenever the ball is in his hands.
The question is, to what extent will Bell, who missed all of last season while in a salary dispute with the Pittsburgh Steelers, be hampered by any sort of rust in his first game in more than 600 days? Additionally, he has had to learn a new offense and get familiar with new teammates.
The Bills' defense must do all it can to prevent Bell from enjoying any sort of early success and, as a result, finding instant confidence that he can have a big day. Remember, he's looking to show the Steelers and anyone else who doubted his former team should have met his financial demands they were wrong. Revenge is a powerful motivator.
5. It's show time for Cole Beasley, John Brown and the tight end kids.
The Bills desperately needed to improve their receiving corps, and the primary answers are Beasley and Brown. Now, they have to begin providing evidence that having these smallish guys as the mainstays of their pass-catching group makes good sense.
Start with Beasley. His short-area quickness will be especially vital in a game where Allen will often have to get the ball out of his hands as quickly as possible.
Brown has the speed to stretch the coverage, and that should help result in a big play or two -- especially when the Jets leave big holes in the secondary for the sake of the blitz.
Incumbents Zay Jones and Robert Foster can be complementary components, but only if Beasley and Brown are doing their part to draw extra coverage.
Rookie tight ends Dawson Knox and Tommy Sweeney should also find room to operate in those vacated spots in the Jets' defense. Look for one or both to be on the receiving end of Allen throws in the seam for chunk yards.