We’re under a week away from the start of the NFL regular season for the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills. New York comes into 2023 with an increase in expectations and a larger target on their back.
On the other hand, Buffalo is looking to win their fourth consecutive AFC East Title.
Who has an edge in the Monday Night Showdown at MetLife Stadium? Is Aaron Rodgers’ entrance to New York enough to give the Jets the edge in Week 1?
We break down each position and who has an edge today.
Both Aaron Rodgers and Josh Allen are top-five quarterbacks in football. That alone is enough to make this debate a push without explaining further.
Looking into both quarterbacks, each has specific skill sets that make them a top player. Allen’s athleticism and arm is unmatched across the league. Buffalo asks him to do more than any other quarterback in football and has hidden many of their problems over the years.
Rodgers, on the other hand, is arguably the most cerebral quarterback in the game today. His accuracy is terrific and has the poise in the pocket to dissect any defense. Both quarterbacks are clutch and both have brought championship aspirations to their team.
I refuse to pick a side here and will just call this a tie.
Running back: Jets
It wasn’t particularly close before Dalvin Cook decided to sign with the Jets. Now, the running back position is an overwhelming edge for New York. Cook and Breece Hall make an excellent 1-2 punch in the backfield that is as good as any in football.
Buffalo has some quality players like Dalvin’s younger brother James, but the Cook, Damien Harris, and Latavius Murray trio doesn’t scare me nearly as much as Gang Green’s duo.
Wide Receiver: PUSH/Lean Bills
This was one of the hardest positions to judge. The top receiver on the field Monday is Stefon Diggs. That’s not a knock on Garrett Wilson, it’s just where Diggs is right now.
Wilson is the second-best on the field, but who is the third? Who has the better depth? Gabe Davis is as questionable a target as Allen Lazard or Mecole Hardman are. Throw in Khalil Shakir in there as well.
With a position this deadlocked, the top target usually tends to sway the overall vote. This isn’t to say the Jets’ receiving core is bad. It’s more about understanding the difficulty of covering Diggs has become.
Tight End: Bills
New York has a trio of quality tight ends. It’s not enough to outlast the Bills though with their depth. Dawson Knox is an excellent pass catcher but he’s now joined by first-round pick Dalton Kincaid. Kincaid was seen as the top tight end in the draft in April and can be used all over the field. His upside is far greater than any tight end on the field Monday.
That alone is why the edge goes to the Bills here.
Offensive Line: Jets
Some may think that this position group should be more of a push with both teams having questions surrounding the offensive line. New York has dealt with injuries but seems to have their entire offensive line ready to go for Monday. That alone changes the narrative when discussing this group.
Mekhi Becton, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Duane Brown, and Laken Tomlinson are all quality starters. Mitch Morse and Dion Dawkins are good, but the overall depth and talent along the offensive line favor the Jets on Monday.
Defensive Line: Jets
The defensive line is where the Jets have an absolute edge. They have ten legitimate pass rushers, each able to be a force on gameday. Add in the fact that Quinnen Williams is a top-five defensive player in football and you have a group that is among the best in football.
Buffalo has their cast of quality edge rushers, but they aren’t at the level, or depth the Jets have. Ed Oliver and Leonard Floyd have disruptive capabilities, but as good as either are, there are about five that the Jets are equal to or better than their own.
A reminder that when we break down each position, the best player doesn’t necessarily mean the entire position group is better. Matt Milano is the best linebacker on the field on Monday night, but that doesn’t mean Buffalo’s entire group is better than New York’s.
C.J. Mosley may not be a top-five linebacker in football like Milano, but he’s certainly top-10 at his position. A second-team All-Pro and over 150 tackles in the last two seasons is a clear reason as to why. Add in Quincy Williams who is significantly better than Dorrian Williams or Terrel Bernard and the Jets have the better duo at linebacker that Buffalo has of just Milano.
Tre’Davious White is an excellent cornerback. Easily another top-five player. The problem? The Jets have the best corner duo in football. Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed make up a sensational duo and Michael Carter II is as strong a slot corner as you will find.
The Bills might like what they have in Christian Benford, but this is an edge for the Jets.
There are a lot of questions about safety this year for Gang Green. Can Tony Adams play well enough in a starting role to improve a group that was statistically a bottom-of-the-league group?
On the other side, Buffalo may have injury concerns about Micah Hyde, but their safety group is a top unit in football. Jordan Poyer is back for another season and is a top player. If Hyde plays, this group is significantly better than New York’s. If he doesn’t though, how Damar Hamlin looks against Aaron Rodgers on Monday night will be interesting to see.
Special Teams: Jets
Thomas Morstead was a top-10 punter last year and Greg Zuerlein is still incredible as a kicker. That alone should be enough to give New York the edge here.
Sean McDermott has had more regular season and playoff success. Robert Saleh outcoached McDermott in contests last season.
So who has the edge? Buffalo may not like how their offense has looked recently, but the coaching staff is still a top group, while the Jets staff is full of quality people. It’s better to call this breakdown even until McDermott outcoaches Saleh on gameday again.
Jets – 6
Bills – 3
Entering their Week 1 matchup, if we go by positional breakdown, the Jets have the edge at almost every position. Things can change over a week with injuries, but New York’s new-look team seems poised to take over a division they have not won since 2002.