Well, we've made it through the long, unrelenting night that is the NFL offseason, and now the 2020 regular season is upon us. With no preseason games to speak of this year due to the pandemic, the first NFL Sunday of the year is going to feel like football's version of the Big Bang with a full slate of games popping out of seemingly nowhere. In that first crop of games, we find the New York Jets heading upstate to take on their AFC East rivals in the Buffalo Bills.
The departure of Tom Brady in New England this offseason has blown this division wide open, and Buffalo is being pegged by many as the club to possibly claim that crown in 2020. The Jets, meanwhile, continue to build around third-year quarterback Sam Darnold and spent the bulk of their time this offseason building a sturdy offensive line around him, which will come in handy during this opener against Buffalo. These two clubs are also no strangers to facing one another to open up a given season as they did so back in 2019 when Josh Allen and the Bills rallied from a 16 point deficit to beat New York, 17-16.
As for this game, we're here to get you all caught up on the most intriguing betting angles to get you locked in before kickoff. All odds via William Hill Sportsbook.
How to watch
Jets at Bills (-6.5)
The line originally opened up with Buffalo giving up 5.5 points back in early May, but crept up to an even six towards the end of that month and hung there for the bulk of the summer. A little over a week out from the opener is when it ticked up once again to Bills -6.5, where it's currently residing.
The pick: Jets +6.5. The road team has won and covered (4-0 ATS/SU) in each matchup over the last two seasons between these clubs and I don't expect it slowing down here. This is a bit contrarian with Buffalo looking like a division favorite to begin the year, but their two matchups a year ago were determined by a total of eight points. I expect things to be tight again, which favors New York.
Over/Under 39.5 points
The oddsmakers don't see this game as a high-flying display of offense, as it's the lowest total on the Week 1 slate. In all honesty, it's hard to blame them for their outlook here. In their two regular-season meetings a year ago, the Bills and Jets averaged 26 points per game, which was the second-lowest mark among division matchups in 2019. Buffalo did add star Stefon Diggs and rookie running back Zack Moss over the offseason, but the Jets may not have what it takes on the other side to keep the points rolling in. A year ago, Buffalo was the Under king, owning a 13-4 record that was the best in the league and hit in six of their final seven games.
The pick: Over 39.5. I'm zagging. Despite all the evidence pointing to the Under hitting, I could see the lack of preseason games and live in-game reps favoring offenses in the opener which will allow Sam Darnold and company to contribute enough to get this total over the hump.
First half: Bills -3.5, O/U 19.5
The pick: Jets +3.5 I expect this game to be tight throughout so I'll be happy to inch by with over a field goal cover in my back pocket heading into the locker room at halftime. I also don't mind sprinkling a little bit on the Jets' first-half moneyline (+190).
Devin Singletary total rushing attempts: Under 15.5. Singletary saw a solid workload in the final six games he started in 2019, averaging 17.2 rushing attempts per game. While that should seem promising for the Over to hit here, the Zack Moss factor is notable. The third-round rookie has impressed upon arrival in Buffalo and should see a sizable role out of the shoot. Singletary has reportedly also been dealing with some fumbling problems in camp. If that translates to the game, his carries may tank.
Stefon Diggs total receiving yards: Over 51.5. Buffalo paid a hefty price to land Diggs this offseason in a trade with Minnesota and Sean McDermott will likely want to see immediate results. It's not out of the realm of possibility that the 26-year-old can hit this Over on a single play, especially with Josh Allen's arm.
Josh Allen total rushing yards: Over 28.5. This number is almost suspiciously low, but I'm still hammering the Over. Allen has averaged 40.8 rushing yards a game throughout his first two seasons in the league, and even if he says he wants to run less, I bet he won't be able to help himself at times.
Josh Allen longest pass completion: Over 35.5. He has a cannon for an arm and isn't afraid to uncork it. With deep threats like John Brown and Diggs, he could hit this on the opening drive.
Cole Beasley total receptions: Over 3.5. Beasley averaged 4.5 receptions and 7.1 targets from Josh Allen a year ago, and I don't expect that to change much even with Diggs in the picture. In fact, that could open up more quality looks for Beasley over the middle. As long as Allen can be accurate, I like this going over.