NFL 2019 Season - Off
 

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Rookie Battle
by Dennis Ranahan

Two rookie quarterbacks that may well be division opponents for many years to come meet today in Buffalo when Josh Allen and his Bills host Sam Darnold and the New York Jets. Both quarterbacks have shown signs of greatness to come in their rookie seasons, and Darnold is making his first start in a month due to a foot injury.

Four weeks ago, the Bills visited the Jets and left the New York home fans shaking their heads in disgust as the Bills rolled to an easy 41-10 victory. Darnold missed that game, and the Jets lost all three games he didn’t start.

Today, he makes his return to the Jets starting lineup, and backup Josh McCown goes back to his more beneficial role of giving the rookie his best advice. What McCown knows needs to be done from experience, Darnold possesses the physical skills to get done on the field.

The Bills have also had little success without their rookie quarterback on the field. Allen missed four games before his return two weeks ago, and the Bills won only one of those contests, that 41-10 thumping of New York while Matt Barkley directed Buffalo's offense.

But today, in their second meeting of the season, the Bills and Jets will be led by the quarterbacks both franchises expect big things from. The Jets selected Darnold out of Southern Cal with the third pick in the draft, and four selections later the Bills chose Allen.

Both these teams are out of the running for a playoff berth this year, they will be filling the final two spots in the four team AFC East Division. The New England Patriots are in position to win their tenth consecutive AFC East title, while the Dolphins appear headed for a second place finish in 2018. With Brady nearing the end of his Hall of Fame career, and the possibility that head coach Bill Belichick will call it a career not too long after he no longer has Brady running his offense, big changes are in store for both the team that plays out of Foxboro and the rest of the AFC East.

It is conceivable, that in a few years the Bills and Jets will be the teams to beat in this division, based on the expected continued development of their young quarterbacks, and the Patriots will be anchoring the cellar following their years of brilliance.

But for now, all we need to focus on is this game, this matchup on Sunday. The Jets have lost six straight games and are focused today on both ending that losing run and avenging that 31 points loss to the Bills last month.

The Bills won their most recent home game, a 24-21 decisions over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Last week, in Miami, the Bills fell short against the Dolphins, 21-17. Now they return home, and everyone expects them to bounce off that loss in Florida with a convincing win over the Jets in Buffalo. The Bills beating the same team twice in the same season?

How often does that happen?

Once in a Blue Moon comes to mind.

This is going to be a coming out party for Darnold, who is poised to prove why he went ahead of Allen in the draft. He will benefit a Jets team ready to upset the team that pounded them four weeks ago.

Qoxhi Picks: New York Jets (+4) over Buffalo Bills