NFL Week 1: Buffalo Bills (6-10 in 2018) @ New York Jets (4-12 in 2018)
Buffalo Bills: 17.75, +138 ML, New York Jets: 20.75, -160 ML
Current Spread at FanDuel: Jets -3.5 (+105), Total: 38.5
As predicted here, the Jets lost last night in their preseason debut against the New York Giants. Despite the loss, the most impressive player in the game was 2nd year Jets QB, Sam Darnold. The USC alum avoided the Giants pressure with grace, on several occasions slipping out of trouble to hit his receivers in stride in a clinical opening drive. Darnold went a perfect 3-3 on 3rd downs, including his touchdown throw to new acquisition Jamison Crowder.
That small set of plays provides another data point to consider the Jets opening game against the Buffalo Bills. Although it’s tough to make sweeping conclusions from only a handful of plays, the more I see the more I like from the Darnold-Gase tandem. Darnold looks cool and collected in a far more complicated offense than what he was equipped with last year. I am excited to see the wrinkles Gase throws into the offense once multi-time All-Pro Le’veon Bell works into the equation.
Bills also have a 2nd year QB, in top prospect Josh Allen. Allen looked much less impressive in his preseason debut last night, failing to lead the Bills to any points in a quarter of work.
Unlike Darnold, Allen enjoys continuity with the Bills coaching staff. Sean Mcdermott and company had to be pleasantly surprised with Allen’s ascendancy in the 2nd half of the season last year. Despite only playing 12 games, Allen wracked up over 600 rushing yards. If Allen maintains his 52 rushing yards per game from last year, and plays the full season, he would register the 5th most rushing yards ever for a QB (and the most for a white QB since Bobby Douglas for the Bears in 1972.) More importantly, Allen helped the Bills – predicted by many to be the worst team in the NFL – to a surprising 5 wins in 12 games.
Allen put his legs to use best against this aggressive Jets defense, whose linebackers often over committed when trying to pressure QBs last year. I expect him to have similar success against New York in Week 1.
Total Too Low
Given the Bills strong play at the end of the last season – especially on defense – I’m not ready to pull the trigger on the Jets -3. However, looking into a few trends for this match-up combined with what I’m seeing from Darnold and Gase I feel confident in making the Over 38.5 my FanDuel Best Bet.
Since 2010, the Bills and Jets have played 6 games with a total set Under 40. All 6 have gone Over the total, and by an average of 16.2 points.
Those that follow these teams often harp on their mediocre offense. Indeed, the Bills were 30th in total offense last year and the Jets were 29th. However, I think the pessimism about these offenses is overblown leaving us with a number that is much too low.
Adam Gase and Bills OC Brian Daboll will have time to dial up a strong game-plan against these familiar opponents. Both teams will stress offense here to spark excitement in and around the team for the season ahead.