Tyrod Taylor cleared concussion protocol just in time to get the nod at quarterback as the Buffalo Bills open the season against the New York Jets in an AFC East division contest on Sunday. The Jets swept the Bills last season, including a 30-10 road win in the season finale which came just days after Buffalo fired head coach Rex Ryan.
Taylor’s targets may give him headaches as the Bills dealt their top receiver, Sammy Watkins, to the Rams in the offseason, leaving exiled Eagle wideout Jordan Matthews and rookie Zay Jones as his best options. Buffalo disappointed on defense under Ryan over the past two seasons but still has some talent, especially on the line, to improve after finishing 29th in the league against the run in 2016. Some Jets fans are already talking about tanking the season after the team let veteran stars like Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Darrelle Revis and Nick Mangold go after the disappointing 2016 campaign. Journeyman Josh McCown will start under center for New York, which has been discouraged with the development of Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty in their time with the club.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Bills -9. O/U: 39.5.
ABOUT THE JETS (2016: 5-11, 4th in AFC East): According to Las Vegas, New York is the biggest underdog to win the Super Bowl — and with good reason. Not only did the Jets strip their offense of many veterans, but they traded their star player on defense, Sheldon Richardson, to the Seahawks just last week, clearly signalling that they are in full rebuilding mode. The 38-year-old McCown played fairly well in the second half of last season with the Cleveland Browns, throwing for 1,100 yards in five games, but New York lost emerging receiver Quincy Enunwa to a season-ending neck injury in the offseason, leaving aging running back Matt Forté and all-purpose threat Bilal Powell as the top playmakers.
ABOUT THE BILLS (7-9 in 2016): First-year head coach Sean McDermott said he intends to lean heavily on dual-threat running back LeSean McCoy (234 carries, 1,267 yards and 13 touchdowns last season). “We play to win, and whatever it takes to win the game, that’s what we’re going to do,” McDermott said. “If it means he’s got to play every snap, that’s what we’ll do.” Taylor has thrown for just over 3,000 yards in both seasons as the Buffalo’s starting quarterback while rushing for 10 touchdowns over that span.
1. The Jets ranked a respectable 12th in the league in rushing — but Forté averaged only 3.7 yards per carry, his lowest number since 2009.
2. Rookie Nathan Peterman, a fifth-round draft pick out of Pittsburgh, is Taylor’s backup.
3. New York acquired WR Jermaine Kearse in the trade for Richardson) and claimed WR Jeremy Kerley, who played five season for the Jets, off the waiver wire during the week.
PREDICTION: Bills 28, Jets 10