WATCH: Three Jets positions that will determine outcome vs. Browns
Though the final scores would seem to indicate two vastly different games, the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns both dropped their season openers in dramatic fashion.
With the upstart Browns coming to MetLife Stadium in a prime time matchup next week, both franchises figure to be in early season desperation mode, with a tough slate of games ahead. In order for the Jets to prevent the domino effect, they'll need inspired play from three key positions.
As is the case with most NFL games, the game is often decided in the trenches.
On Sunday, the Jets' offensive line struggled mightily against an imposing Buffalo front four. Ryan Kalil flopped in his return from retirement, Brian Winters was overmatched against rookie Ed Oliver, and it seemed like all Kelvin Beachum could do was helplessly watch as Jerry Hughes routinely blew by him off the edge.
It won't get any easier with Myles Garrett, Sheldon Richardson, Larry Ogunjobi and Olivier Vernon storming the castle on Monday night. In fact, Garrett (two sacks) and Ogunjobi (one sack) already look to be in mid-season form.
In order for the Jets to get quarterback Sam Darnold in a rhythm, the offensive line will need to effectively pave running lanes for Le'Veon Bell early to put Cleveland's surging defense on its heels and create opportunities for the passing game to flourish.
While the Jets' cornerback conundrum has been well documented throughout the summer, the starting tandem of Trumaine Johnson and Darryl Roberts were decidedly overmatched in Sunday's loss.
Johnson: 8 targets, 7 completions, 110 yards. 118.1 quarterback rating.
Roberts: 7 targets, 5 completions, 77 yards, touchdown. 147 quarterback rating. Three penalties.
That was against John Brown and Cole Beasley.
The Browns' potent receiving trio of Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, and Rashard Higgins present a much taller order.
Though the game figures to be competitive, safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye will likely need to assume additional responsibilities on the backend to prevent another late game collapse.
Potentially without Quinnen Williams on Monday night, Leonard Williams, Henry Anderson and Steve McLendon will need to take advantage of a porous Browns offensive line that just surrendered five sacks to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.
The Jets' lone sack came from linebacker Jordan Jenkins, so they'll need the defensive line to get home a few times to alleviate some of the pressure placed on the backend.