The NFL is closing out on the opening week of the 2023 season with what could be one of the most anticipated games of the entire year.
In this year’s first edition of “Monday Night Football,” Aaron Rodgers launched his New York Jets tenure by taking on the Buffalo Bills, who are three-time defending champions of the AFC East.
Unfortunately for Rodgers and the Jets, the star quarterback’s debut was cut short during the team’s first offensive possession. Zach Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft by the Jets, replaced Rodgers, who was later declared out for the game.
Stay with USA TODAY Sports throughout the evening for live coverage of all the notable developments from Monday night’s contest:
Bills 13, Jets 13: Garrett Wilson’s circus catch evens game
Garrett Wilson was determined to catch Zach Wilson’s pass on a fade route. Despite tough coverage, Wilson made a spectacular catch in the end zone for a three-yard touchdown. Wilson’s catch is easy a top-play nominee and one of the best plays of Week 1. — Tyler Dragon
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Jordan Whitehead gets hat trick
Jordan Whitehead and the Jets defense are doing all they can to keep the club in the game.
Whitehead intercepted Josh Allen for a third time. The Jets safety jumped a route ran by Bills WR Gabe Davis to intercept Allen.
Whitehead now has a career-best three interception game. He’s never had three interceptions in a single season. — Tyler Dragon
Aaron Rodgers became the 53rd quarterback to start for the New York Jets with his start on “Monday Night Football” against the Buffalo Bills. It was an inauspicious debut to be sure.
With so much fanfare and a “Hard Knocks” slate of episodes, the buzz around this debut was enormous. Despite the brevity of the moment, the gut-wrenching sight is surely something fans will not soon forget. — Ayrton Ostly
Jets fans react to Aaron Rodgers injury
“You can’t make that (expletive) up,” one person said when Rodgers was helped off the field.
And while Jets nation did its best to support backup Zach Wilson, the former No. 2 overall pick, entrance, they quickly were reminded of the necessity upgrading the quarterback position was for the team this offseason.
A fan let out a tortured “AHHH” when Wilson backpedaled and threw the ball away on third-and-5 from inside the 10-yard line in the second quarter. The possession ended in a field goal that tied the game, but “why didn’t he take off?” was overheard in Section 201.
Rodgers was top on mind for those fans commiserating at halftime.
“High sprain? Low sprain?” one asked. “It’s a huge difference” — Chris Bumbaca
Jordan Whitehead records second pick
Quinnen Williams’ pressure up the middle led to forced long ball by Josh Allen that was intercepted by Jordan Whitehead. Stefon Diggs was the intended receiver, but he was well covered by Whitehead who tracked the football well.
The interception was ruled a touchback because it happened in the end zone.
Whitehead has two interceptions in the game. — Tyler Dragon
Zach Wilson led the Jets on a promising 12-play, 50-yard drive that resulted in a successful 43-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein.
Zuerlein has made both of his field goals thus far and is responsible for New York’s only points.
Wilson is 8-for-13 passing for 80 yards.
Upon seeing Rodgers hop onto the cart to leave the field, Peyton Manning was in shock.
“Holy cow,” he said. “I cannot believe this. I thought it was just an ankle. I thought we’d tape him up and get back in there.”
Brother Eli Manning was equally dumbfounded
“Three plays? Four plays?” he said, asking about the number of plays the Jets had before Rodgers’ injury.
“I can’t believe what happened tonight. I don’t know how to process it,” Peyton said. — Chris Bumbaca
The Bills offense gained 188 yards in the first half. Josh Allen has 133 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception. Stefon Diggs has a game-high six catches for 54 yards and a TD in the first half.
The Jets offense struggled to move the ball without Aaron Rodgers, but they did get a very good half out of Breece Hall who gained 109 rushing yards.
Jets linebacker Quincy Williams has a game-high eight tackles.
Bills linebacker Matt Milano and Jets safety Jordan Whitehead both registered first half interceptions. — Tyler Dragon
Bills 10, Jets 3: Stefon Diggs scores game’s first TD
Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs are clicking early.
Allen found Diggs in the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown. Diggs has five catches, 48 yards and a touchdown in the first half.
Diggs’ TD capped off an 11-play, 75-yard drive.
As much hype and buzz — even by New York standards — as Aaron Rodgers’ arrival sparked, the main concern about this team, for months really, has been its offensive line. The four-time MVP was immediately under fire in his brief debut Monday night, leaving the game with an ankle injury after being sacked on his fourth snap.
While the injury smacks of the bad luck this franchise has suffered for most of the 55 years since Joe Namath led it to victory in Super Bowl 3, it should come as little surprise that Rodgers was quickly feeling the heat. This was his first game action behind a line featuring Mekhi Becton, who was recently switched to right tackle, and Duane Brown, the left tackle who come off the PUP list (shoulder injury) on August 23 but did not appear in the preseason.
And don’t forget this. As a condition of acquiring Rodgers ahead of the 2023 draft, the Jets flipped the 13th pick of the first round to the Green Bay Packers for their 15th overall selection. It was widely speculated — and perfectly logical — that New York would pick an offensive lineman, especially given GM Joe Douglas’ affinity for blockers. However after the Packers took Iowa pass rusher Lukas Van Ness 13th, the Pittsburgh Steelers traded in front of the Jets and grabbed Georgia LT Broderick Jones at No. 14. There was never an admission Jones was New York’s guy — and subsequent video from Douglas in the Jets draft room suggested he wasn’t — but he did seem to be the last blue-chip O-line prospect on the board. Ultimately, Douglas went with Iowa State pass rusher Will McDonald IV at the 15th position, and the rest is history … but hopefully not more unfortunate Jets history if Rodgers’ injury proves short-term.
But sure makes you wonder about such high-stakes poker and whether Jones might’ve actually been the choice in April and on the field Monday instead of 38-year-old Brown had he been an option. — Nate Davis
Breece Hall’s huge run sets up points for Jets
On the first play after the turnover, Jets running back Breece Hall found an opening up the middle an ran for an 83-yard gain. The long run set New York up for a game-tying 26-yard field goal.
The long run gave Hall 109 rushing yards on just two carries. — Tyler Dragon
The Jets defense is playing inspired football.
Bills QB Josh Allen was intercepted by Jets safety Jordan Whitehead on a deep pass intended for wide receiver Deonte Harty. New York took over at its own 4-yard line.
Bills kicker Tyler Bass connected on a 40-yard field goal on Buffalo’s second series. The field goal turned out to be the only score of the first quarter for both teams.
The Jets had 44 yards of total offense after one quarter.
The vibe at MetLife Stadium on Monday night was quickly subdued as Aaron Rodgers suffered an injury on the team’s opening offensive possession against the Bills.
Rodgers took three dropbacks on the drive and faced pressure on each one, culminating in a sack on a first down play that saw Bills edged rusher Leonard Floyd come off the left side of the line to bring Rodgers to the turf. He lay on the ground momentarily and Jets trainers rushed onto the field to examine him. Moments later, they helped him to his feet and he limped off the field with assistance, heading immediately into the blue medical tent on the sideline.
The Jets announced that Rodgers suffered an ankle injury and listed his return as questionable. — Lorenzo Reyes
Jets QBs by the numbers
It may not take long for Aaron Rodgers to rewrite the Jets’ single-season record book. The Jets have had only one passer, team legend Joe Namath, surpass 4,000 yards in a single campaign — and he barely got there with 4,007 in 1967 (albeit in 14 game). Four-time league MVP Rodgers has eclipsed 4K 10 times.
Furthermore, one Jets field general has found the 30 TD pass plateau, and it might not be who you think. Throwing to the likes of Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker in 2015, Ryan Fitzpatrick hoisted a club record 31 aerial strikes. Rodgers has gone 30-plus eight times, three of those seasons north of 40.
As for efficiency? Chad Pennington posted a Jets record 104.2 QB rating in 2002, the last time the Jets won the AFC East. Rodgers’ career passer rating is 103.6, second all-time behind Patrick Mahomes (105.3).
Might have to break out that Gotham Green eraser if Rodgers fulfills the lofty hopes his new team and fans have for him. — Nate Davis
Aaron Rodgers’ much-anticipated introduction to the green-clad MetLife Stadium faithful came with the star quarterback carrying the American flag on the 22nd anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Aaron Rodgers warms up for MNF
Aaron Rodgers, officially, has made his way to the field.
About 50 minutes ahead of kickoff, Rodgers emerged from the locker room and stood at the tunnel, awaiting to lead the offense out. Cameras at MetLife Stadium showed Rodgers just under the overhang of the tunnel, leading to the 15,000 or so fans to break out in cheers. Rodgers and the rest of the offense came out and huddled briefly in the south end zone. Rodgers appeared to say some quick comments, though it was tight end C.J. Uzomah who rallied the offense with an extended speech.
After the offense broke the huddle, Rodgers went over to the sideline and tossed a few warmup passes and took snaps from starting center Connor McGovern.
It’s just another season opener for Rodgers, set to embark on his 19th season, but, from the press box, his body language looks loose.
Rodgers has won his last nine games on “Monday Night Football.” In those games, he has 23 touchdown passes compared to three interceptions, with a rating of 114.0. Overall, in 18 career “MNF” starts, Rodgers has 41 touchdowns. — Lorenzo Reyes
Aaron Rodgers’ Jets debut comes in throwback uniforms
Aaron Rodgers’ debut with the New York Jets coincides with the team debuting throwback uniforms featuring the block JETS logo — topped by, stunner, an actual airplane — that the club featured from 1978 to 1997. Since then, the Jets have kept the logo and unis, white pants and jerseys featuring simple green striping in use from 1978 to 1989, in mothballs.
Calling the new version “Legacy White,” which includes the new “Gotham Green” color palette, these threads will also honor the New York Sack Exchange era, when the Jets featured one of the league’s most-feared defense — and just a few weeks after ringleading defensive lineman Joe Klecko went into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The Legacy Whites will return in Week 4, when the Jets host the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs on “Sunday Night Football.” Yet for longtime followers of the team, a permanent switch might be in order. — Nate Davis
Damar Hamlin officially inactive
The Bills announced their inactives for Monday’s tilt. Hamlin is a healthy scratch.
Jets pass rusher Carl Lawson is among the inactive players for New York.
Weather already playing a factor for Bills vs. Jets
Around 5:05 p.m. ET, the MetLife Stadium’s public address system announced that those on the field and the lower bowl should clear the area immediately due to severe weather in the area. Players looking to get early work on the venue’s newly installed turf were unable for a time.
That included coaches – Jets head coach Robert Saleh was running his customary stadium stairs more than three hours before kickoff – and broadcast crews filming their pregame shows.
Forecasts indicated storms could last through 8 p.m. ET.
“Monday Night Football” kicks off at 8:15 p.m. ET on Monday, Sept. 11 and will be broadcast on ESPN, ABC and ESPN+.
Sauce Gardner vs. Stefon Diggs
Diggs tallied 8 catches for 130 yards in two meetings versus the Jets last season, but only one catch was against Gardner in coverage. The Jets top cornerback and Buffalo’s best wide receiver will be matched up against each other periodically. When the two are lined up opposite each other, get your popcorn ready.
Gardner allowed a 53.5% completion percentage as a rookie last season. Diggs has produced three straight seasons with at least 100 receptions and 1,200 receiving yards.
Jets defensive line vs Bills O-line
The Jets have one of the most disruptive defensive lines in football, led by DT Quinnen Williams who’s coming off a 12-sack season. The Jets defense is led by their front four. If they can pressure Josh Allen and have him under duress, the Jets will have a good chance of being victorious on Monday night.
Allen was sacked 33 times last season, eight of those sacks were by the Jets.
Aaron Rodgers vs. Bills defense
Rodgers has a nine-game winning streak on “Monday Night Football.” Will he extend the streak with a new team?
Garrett Wilson was getting Davante Adams comparisons during training camp. Time will tell if Rodgers and Wilson can build a rapport as potent as Rodgers and Adams had in Green Bay. The Bills had a top 10 defense in 2022, led by a secondary that produced 17 interceptions a season ago. — Tyler Dragon
Is ManningCast on for Bills vs. Jets?
Yes, Peyton and Eli Manning’s popular alternate broadcast returns for the 2023 NFL season starting Monday night on ESPN2. Monday’s guests are set to include tennis legend John McEnroe as well as Ryan Fitzpatrick, who played for both the Jets and Bills during his 17-year NFL career.
Joe Buck, Troy Aikman make history on ESPN broadcast
The duo teamed up at FOX for 20 years before taking their talents to ESPN last year. Now in their second season at the network, their 22nd one is noteworthy; Buck and Aikman have now passed the legendary combination of Pat Summerall and John Madden for the longest tenure as NFL broadcasting partners.
Together, they’ve called six Super Bowls and more than 300 regular-season contests alongside each other. — Chris Bumbaca
Bills vs. Jets predictions
Five of our eight experts are picking the Jets, who enter the contest as 2.5-point favorites, according to BetMGM.
Here are a few of our experts’ picks and explanations:
Tyler Dragon: Bills 25, Jets 21
This intrastate matchup closes out Week 1. The Jets won the offseason, but the Bills are still the best team in the AFC East until further notice.
Victoria Hernandez: Bills 32, Jets 27
All the hype is around Aaron Rodgers, but last year he had his worst season since being injured in 2017 and he has yet to prove he’s jelling with the Jets. Josh Allen and the Bills have their offense locked and loaded for another playoff march and they will easily cover the spread to come out victorious.
Jordan Mendoza: Bills 28, Jets 23
One could assume the signing of Aaron Rodgers would lead to the Jets emerging as a clear title contender in the AFC, but it seems like people are forgetting the division still belongs to Buffalo. Still with one of the best offenses in the game, Buffalo shuts down the Rodgers hype in the quest to finally get back to the Super Bowl.
Aaron Rodgers’ long-awaited Jets debut is here
The waiting is finally over, as four-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers will take the field on Monday night, marking his first game with a team other than the Green Bay Packers following his 18-year run with the franchise.
But Monday will also serve as debuts for a few other notable figures, too. Dalvin Cook will be seeing his first action with the Jets after the longtime Minnesota Vikings running back landed with New York this summer. And on the Bills’ side, head coach Sean McDermott will be taking over defensive play-calling duties from Leslie Frazier, who announced in February he would be taking a leave of absence from coaching.
All eyes, however, will be trained on Rodgers and the Jets’ offense. Through the preseason, the attack struggled to find its way, with the offensive line’s performance raising questions about the unit’s readiness for Week 1. Rodgers, however, has said he’s not concerned by any of the early woes.
‘Hard Knocks’ with Jets winners and losers
NFL Films cameras were front and center for Jets head coach Robert Saleh’s “All Gas No Break” training camp. There were many Aaron Rodgers highlight montages, as he was front and center for nearly the entire series, getting acclimated with a new set of teammates after 18 seasons in Green Bay.
Garrett Wilson and Sauce Gardner, the 2022 offensive and defensive rookies of the year, and defensive tackle Quinnen Williams also were among the standouts on “Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the New York Jets.”
Here are the highlights, and lowlights, of this season’s docuseries on HBO.
Bills at Jets odds
All odds provided by BetMGM
Highlighting Monday Night Football odds, the New York Jets are among the best bets for NFL Week 1 as a home underdog against the Buffalo Bills. The Bills are favored by 2.5 points, according to the BetMGM NFL odds. Looking to wager? BetMGM is among the best mobile sports betting apps offering the top NFL betting promos in 2023.
According to the top NFL betting apps, Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers has some of the best NFL MVP betting odds in 2023. Both the Jets and Bills boast some of the best early Super Bowl betting odds.
The Jets are also one of the most popular NFL future bets following Rodgers’ arrival from Green Bay. Will his arrival signal a new era in New York?
Interested in wagering on other games? Our guide to the best NFL betting odds, picks and spreads is a useful resource to peruse the Thursday Night Football odds and/or Monday Night Football odds.
If you’re new to sports betting, don’t worry. Our tips for beginners on how to place bet online is a great place to start. And USA TODAY readers can claim exclusive promos and bonus codes with the best online sportsbooks and sports betting sites.
32 things we learned in NFL Week 1
Your eventual Super Bowl 58 winner is most likely 1-0, given 46 of the 57 Lombardi Trophy winners (81%) triumphed in their openers. Since the league expanded and realigned in 2002, 53% of teams starting 1-0 went on to qualify for the playoffs, while 75% of those starting 0-1 did not reach postseason.
The first Sunday of the 2023 NFL season featured plenty of notable debuts and surprising results, including a face plant by the Bengals. — Nate Davis
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