Just like the Buffalo Bills, we have a weekly routine at this blog, and it typically does not involve looking ahead to the team's next opponent until Wednesday morning. That's changing this week (albeit briefly), because in Week 9, the Bills will play host to the New York Jets.
I am not the type of football fan that thrives week-to-week on the adrenaline and testosterone borne of off-the-field frivolities. The Jets are an easy team to hate for most fans not just because they're division rivals, but because Rex Ryan is so incredibly brash, Mark Sanchez is so ludicrously GQ, and because they've improbably made it to two consecutive AFC championship games.
If that's the type of stuff that fuels your rooting interests on Sundays, that's great. I am not one of those fans. In the war between insult and injury, I tend to focus almost solely on the injury. Whatever else the Jets have going against them in the minds of Bills fans, it's important to remember this one fact: this is a team that absolutely lambasted the Bills in 2010.
The Bills and Jets first met in Week 4 last year. Marshawn Lynch was still on the team, and Chan Gailey and his coaching staff generally still had no idea what exactly they wanted to be on both sides of the ball (but particularly defensively). The Jets came into Ralph Wilson Stadium and did the following:
- Ran for 273 yards as a team
- Went on a 21-0 run in the third quarter after building a 17-7 halftime lead
- Forced two Bills turnovers and sacked Ryan Fitzpatrick three times
- Held the Bills to 223 yards of offense
The 38-14 thrashing dropped the Bills to 0-4 on the season, while the Jets improved to 3-1. Buffalo had just two especially brutal losses during their 0-8 start last season; choosing between this game and a Week 2 loss to eventual Super Bowl champion Green Bay on the road, I'd peg this one as the bigger embarrassment.
Buffalo then traveled to New Jersey to take on the Jets in Week 17. The Bills were banged up and long since vanished from the playoff hunt; Brian Brohm got the start at quarterback for an injured Fitzpatrick. The Jets had already sewn up a playoff spot, and therefore rested many of their prominent starters. Still, the Jets ran for 276 yards and forced six Bills turnovers in a season-ending 38-7 shellacking that brought the Bills' 4-12 season to a close.
Never mind the insults of those two losses, which admittedly included some real gems: getting run all over twice, losing in shameful fashion at home, or watching a creaky Mark Brunell carve up Buffalo's defense in a meaningless game. The injury is worse: the Jets beat the Bills by a combined score of 76-21 last season.
That's why, against my very nature as a fan of the Buffalo Bills, I've had November 6 circled on my calendar for months. The Bills should be motivated to defeat a division rival, of course, but the Jets flat-out embarrassed the Bills twice last season. That gets my blood up - and if it has that effect on me, I sincerely hope that the Bills themselves play with a bit of extra motivation this week. That's especially true considering that the Bills are a winning football team this season.
Buffalo is in a dogfight in the AFC. One game separates the top three teams in the division, and with at least two strong playoff contenders in every division in the conference, the Bills should have sufficient motivation to keep winning. The manner in which the Jets picked apart the Bills last season, however, has me more excited for Week 9 than I've been about a regular season Bills game in several years. 'Excited' may not even be the right word; I'm more concerned with vengeance. I can't wait to be at the Ralph this Sunday. Buffalo has a score to settle.
Hell, I can't even wait until Wednesday morning.