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Don't Get Too Happy About Facing the Bills This Weekend

Buffalo games have a way of getting weird

By Josh Alper
|  Wednesday, Sep 29, 2010  |  Updated 7:03 AM EDT
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TORONTO - DECEMBER 3: Quarterback Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets looks to hand off the ball during their NFL game against the Buffalo Bills on December 3, 2009 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Jets defeated the Bills 19-13. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

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There isn't an analytical method under the sun that wouldn't look at this Sunday's matchup between the Jets and Bills and spit out anything other than a very strong recommendation for a Jets victory.

The Jets have won two in a row and the Bills have lost three straight. The Jets rank near the top of the league in both offense and defense while the Bills are near the bottom in offense and at the bottom on defense. The Jets will probably be playing without Darrelle Revis, which would be a mitigating factor if the Bills didn't release Trent Edwards, the guy who came into the season as their starting quarterback, on Monday.

All compelling reasons, but rational analytical systems don't do a very good job of accounting for either "trap" games or the fact that Bills-Jets games have a tendency to turn into ugly battles that rarely represent the best of the team in green. We'll discuss the latter point first, since it has a particular bearing on this matchup.

There's no reasonable explanation why the Bills and Jets always seem to hook up in sloppy messes, but a look back at the last half-decade of games between them makes it hard to feel confident about a convincing Jets win in Week Four. They haven't beaten the Bills by more than 10 points since 2003 and are just 5-5 against them over the last five seasons even though Buffalo has had a losing record each year.

The games themselves have been hideous. Six Mark Sanchez interceptions at the Meadowlands last year, Bills quarterback J.P. Losman inexplicably fumbling a ball to blow a 2008 game, an ugly 13-3 Bills win in 2007 that marked the real end of Chad Pennington's Jets career and so on and so on. The games have been poorly played by both sides; they've mostly been in doubt down to the last play and -- see last year -- they've been disastrous for the Jets more often than not.

That alone makes this game a worrisome one for the Jets, but when you throw in the fact that it is also a classic "trap" game makes you reach for the Pepto even faster. The Jets had three toughies to open the schedule to go with a pair of big off-field distractions and Week Five brings the return of Santonio Holmes as well as a Monday nighter with Brett Favre and the Vikings, which makes it easy to overlook a game against a team that will contend for the worst record in football.

Let's hope that mentioning it and keeping the attention up serves to keep the eyes on the prize for the Jets because the thrills of the last two weeks won't matter a bit if they stumble against the Bills on Sunday.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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