Bills (0-0) at Jets (0-0)
Spread: Jets +2.5
Weather: Chance for rain
There have been a number of fluctuations with the spread for this game. It opened at Jets +2.5 or Jets +3 at most locations; then it soon fell to Jets +2 with even a few Jets +1.5 options out there. Over the last couple of weeks, consensus has risen back to Jets +2.5.
The total for this contest opened at 47.5 before quickly rising to 48.5. Since that peak, it has gradually fallen to its current mark of 45.5 points.
Jets Offense vs. Bills Defense
We all finally get to see what Aaron Rodgers’ New York Jets offense looks like in primetime this Monday night. The Jets begin the year with a tough test against Buffalo, which has fielded a tough defense for years. It’s a little surprising that the Buffalo Bills allowed the seventh-most receiving yards to wide receivers last year, but they suffered a rash of injuries in 2022.
The Bills struggled against perimeter receivers more than those lined up in the slot. New York’s top receiver, Garrett Wilson, saw roughly two-thirds of his snaps on the boundary last season. Allen Lazard played with Rodgers in Green Bay and also played the majority of his snaps on the perimeter. Lazard’s value is primarily driven by his rapport with Rodgers, because Rodgers’ game is reliant on timing patterns and, therefore, trust. Speedster Mecole Hardman will factor in as a field stretcher who sees a few manufactured touches most weeks.
The Bills allowed the sixth-fewest receiving yards to tight ends last year, so this is a tough matchup for Tyler Conklin. That said, Conklin is the most athletic tight end Rodgers has played with in years, and, one could argue, ever.
Expect Breece Hall to be eased in early in the year while newly acquired running back Dalvin Cook leads the Jets in carries in Week 1. Cook is not quite the difference maker he once was, but he’s a reliable professional who’s a positive for the Jets offense. The Bills were an above-average run defense last season, so a breakthrough performance from Cook would be a surprise. Michael Carter likely factors into the running back mix until Hall is running at full capacity.
Bills Offense vs. Jets Defense
Every NFL team relies on its quarterback, but that’s especially true for the Buffalo Bills, as Josh Allen drives this offense. Allen is a dual-threat quarterback and one of the few who can genuinely carry an offense on his back. Buffalo’s supporting cast on offense would look much different without Allen.
The Jets allowed the fewest receiving yards to wide receivers last season. Stefon Diggs is the primary option in the Bills passing attack, but he only had eight total receptions against New York last season. Gabe Davis had a disappointing 2022, where he struggled through injuries for most of the campaign. If Buffalo’s offense is going to improve this season, a step forward from Davis is the most logical path.
While New York was stingy against wide receivers, it allowed the sixth-most receiving yards to enemy tight ends. The Bills drafted Dalton Kincaid in the first round, who should see notable work as an inline tight end and in the slot. Despite the presence of Kincaid, Dawson Knox should still see significant playing time as an inline tight end. For prop betting purposes, it’s probably best to take a wait-and-see approach on how Buffalo deploys their two tight ends early in the season.
James Cook is positioned to lead the Bills backfield, while some combination of Damien Harris and Latavius Murray will primarily be used as runners. Cook exceeded 50 yards rushing in just three games last season. His role increased in the second half of the season, but even then, he only saw double-digit carries in three games after Week 9. Cook should see the most passing game work out of this group, while Harris could ultimately see goal-line work while pushing for the lead in carries. The Jets had a good run defense last season, so consider this a neutral, at best, matchup for Bills running backs.
What You’re Betting On
The Bills and Jets played two one-score games last season. The Jets won at home, 20-17, while the Bills won at home, 20-12.
The Jets don’t need peak Rodgers to be a dangerous team; they just need him to provide a more stable offense than Joe Flacco, Zach Wilson or Mike White to improve. That’s all they would have needed to beat Buffalo twice last season.
Expecting Rodgers to light the Bills up is a big ask, but betting on him to bring stability to New York’s offense is not. If you’re betting on the Jets, you are betting on their offensive line holding up well against the Bills’ strong but not quite full-strength front. The other aspect of a Jets bet is that you are betting on their defense to play as well as it did last season.
Any bet on Buffalo starts as a bet on Allen’s offense to at least meet expectations. That isn’t a given against the Jets’ stingy defense, which held the Bills below their game total in both matchups last season. That means a bet on the Bills is more so a bet on their defense against Rodgers in his Jets’ debut. That’s not a given either, but Buffalo has enough of a trench advantage to give Rodgers problems in this contest.
Score Prediction: Jets 23, Bills 20
Ryan’s Recent Betting Record
ATS 2021: 49-31
ATS 2022: 48-32
Props 2022: 60-40
Ryan Reynolds is the associate director of fantasy and betting at The 33rd Team. He has watched every snap of every NFL game since 2014. Ryan has been covering NFL betting markets for five years. Follow Ryan @RyanReynoldsNFL on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.