A Mixed Start for Pro Football in New York

We don’t look to professional sports too often, but given the start of the NFL season this past weekend it seemed a good time to check in on New York’s three teams. Overall, these teams went 1-2 in the first week, though with the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets having played each other, one of those losses was inevitable.

Here are a few words on how the openers looked for each team.

Most Giants fans entered the 2019 season with fairly low expectations. The 2018 campaign was a little bit of a disaster, and while the team took some long-term steps to improve (most notably drafting Eli Manning’s eventual successor at quarterback, Daniel Jones), it also lost Odell Beckham Jr., and did little to indicate a winning season was in the works for 2019. None of these perceptions should change much after the Giants’ opening week loss to the Cowboys.

New York entered the game with a depleted receiving corps (thanks to Golden Tate’s four-game suspension), and came out of it in an even darker place, with Sterling Shepard having sustained a concussion. Manning was mediocre and the defense was poor, allowing Dallas to rack up 35 points. There were a few bright spots though, in that arguably the three most pivotal offensive players for the future played well. Dominant second-year running back Saquon Barkley was terrific as always, tight-end Evan Engram managed 116 yards and a touchdown, and Jones got his feet wet with three completions in four attempts. Things don’t look good for the Giants, but those three are something to build around.

The Bills were the only one of the New York teams to win on Sunday, defeating the Jets in a come-from-behind, 17-16 victory. Needless to say there weren’t many offensive fireworks in this one, but the Bills have to be thrilled with how their defense performed on the road against a somewhat-revamped Jets attack. Second-year quarterback Josh Allen’s stat line was nothing to write home about, but he was stable down the stretch in a tight contest. And rookie running back Devin Singletary had some electric moments that could hint at a very strong debut season.

A 17-16 win over a middling Jets team may not be particularly memorable two or three weeks from now, but all of a sudden the Bills look like a possible playoff contender. It’s a given that the New England Patriots will win the AFC East, and with how terrible the Miami Dolphins looked in Week 1 (they were trounced by the Ravens), last place seems shored up as well. A Bills edge over the Jets could therefore be significant in the wild card race. Don’t be surprised if the nearby sportsbooks in New Jersey start to show some fairly strong odds for a Bills playoff push early in the season.

Needless to say, the Jets came out on the other side of the Bills’ comeback win, and find themselves in an early hole in the division. It’s always important not to overreact to Week 1 results, but the Jets may need to right the ship quickly if they’re to make good on their potential. It  arguably a more talented Jets roster than we’ve seen in a few years.

The loss was fairly bitter given that New York had the lead for a good chunk of the game. But there were a few bright spots, most notably on offense. In his debut in green, Le’Veon Bell managed 92 total yards and a touchdown – nowhere near what he’s capable of at his best, but respectable nonetheless. And wide receiver Jamison Crowder, who was acquired this offseason, had an excellent debut, with 99 yards on 14 catches.

It was all in all a mixed opening for the New York franchises. But while none of the three teams appear poised to truly contend, there’s at least a little bit for each fan base to be excited about.

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