The Bills will start the 2002 football season with a divisional battle against the Jets. The Bills are looking to rebound from a disappointing 3-13 season last year and have many new weapons at their disposal. The team is thinking playoffs and although that seems unlikely optimism is in the air with the new additions including Drew Bledsoe, London Fletcher, Dave Moore, Billy Jenkins, and draft picks Mike Williams, Coy Wire, Josh Reed and Justin Bannan. The Jets are coming off a playoff season and have their sites set on the division title and are thinking super bowl. New York is coming off a stellar 4-0 preseason while the Bills finished winless.
Facts and Figures
The Bills go into the season very healthy. The only injury of note in the preseason was to backup linebacker Brandon Spoon. He is out for the season with a ruptured bicep. The offensive line was banged up most of the preseason but everyone is healthy now for the start of the season
The Jets had their fair share of injuries in the preseason. The biggest to star defensive end John Abraham who sprained his MCL. He missed all the preseason but may be ready to give it a go on Sunday. Offensive guard Dave Szott tore his ACL and is out indefinitely. Defensive tackle Larry Webster will miss this game with a knee injury. CB Jamie Henderson, WR Santana Moss, and SS Sam Garnes have been hobbled with injuries but should be ready to go.
For complete injury news throughout the week and the Official NFL Injury Report go to our Injury Page.
SS Coy Wire vs. TE Anthony Becht: When the Bills blitz, Wire is going to have to cover Becht and do a better job then he did against the Lions in the final preseason game.
RB Travis Henry vs. LB Sam Cowart: Cowart is anxious to prove that he is healthy and he wants the Bills to pay for not giving him a contract with all the bonus money upfront. The Bills offensive line needs to keep Cowart bottled up to give Henry a chance to run.
OT Jonas Jennings vs. DE John Abraham: This will be a battle of two young, talented players that both missed most of the preseason with injuries. If Abraham is healthy enough, he may give Jennings fits. The Bills need to stop Abraham from disrupting the flow of the offense.
DT Pat Williams vs. C Kevin Mawae: If Mawae can shutdown Williams the Bills defensive line doesn't have a prayer at putting any pressure on Testerverde or stopping Martin. If that happens it could be a long day for the Bills defense.
LB London Fletcher vs. RB Curtis Martin: If the Bills are going to slow down Martin, they will have to rely on Fletcher to do the job. If the defensive line doesn't bottle up the offensive line, Fletcher will have trouble roaming the field to keep Martin at bay.
WR Peerless Price and Eric Moulds vs. CB Aaron Beasley and Donnie Abraham: This could be a matchup the Bills can exploit. They will probably have to take to the air a lot to win this game. If Drew Bledsoe can find his top receivers, it will go along way towards pulling off the upset.
When The Bills Have The Ball: The Bills will try to establish the run but they know they will have to go to the air to win this game. Expect Drew Bledsoe to throw the ball and throw often taking advantage of possible mismatches between the Bills receiving corp and the Jets secondary. If they can run at all that will help keep the Jets from pinning their ears back and coming after Bledsoe with everything they have.
When The Jets Have The Ball: The Jets know that the Bills are weak in the front four and will try to exploit it with the running of Curtis Martin. Look for them to establish the running game early and then use play action and a nice mix of run and pass to move the ball downfield.
Bills Daily Prediction
There is a lot of reason for optimism about this Bills team but there are many deficiencies that the Jets will try to exploit. Expect the Jets to move the ball with relative ease on the ground, which will open up the passing game. The Bills have a brand new offense and look for that unit to be successful as well through the air. This has a good chance of being the first of many shootouts this year: Jets 34, Bills 27
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