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Jets Draw Perfect Opponent for Opener

First game will be very telling for Jets

By Josh Alper
|  Friday, Sep 7, 2012  |  Updated 4:42 PM EDT
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Jets Draw Perfect Opponent for Opener

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It's time to find out about Sanchez.

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Winning on Sunday doesn't solve anything for the Jets.

It is always nice to kick things off with a victory, but the reaction to a win is going to fall into one of two categories. The first is that people are pleasantly surprised by the offense and regretting the decision to draw broad conclusions from the preseason.

That would be Rex Ryan's preferred outcome. It will also be what he'll say in much more bombastic terms after the game if things go the Jets' way.

The second is that the Bills might have looked better on paper, but they are the same old Buffalo team once they get on the field. The fact that this option exists means that even attempts to go the first route will have to be tempered by admissions that they haven't beaten anybody just yet.

It might not be true about Buffalo, even in a loss, but truth isn't the most important thing about a juicy narrative. It's all about perceptions and winning once won't change too many views because people are pretty invested in the whole Jets are going to be terrible business.

All of which means a loss is going to make any earlier ridicule feel like the tender caress of a loved one. The type of loss doesn't even matter all that much because, again, there's that lingering idea that the Bills aren't a very good team so losing nobly is the same as getting taken behind the woodshed for 60 minutes because it means you're not even the second-best team in the AFC East anymore. 

That's what makes them the perfect opponent for the first week. You don't want to play the Dolphins or Browns right now because that really means nothing and you don't want to risk getting thumped by the Patriots because that sets off a feeding frenzy.

The Bills, meanwhile, reside right in the same neck of the woods as the Jets and they've got a similar need to start strong and keep the doubters at bay as long as possible. They're also bringing a defense that will test both the offensive line and Mark Sanchez, two things that need to happen before anyone will buy the idea that there are better offensive days ahead.

If Sanchez fails that test, you're going to hear from the Tim Tebow faction during the game and that's just going to make things jump to DEFCON Three after just one game. That might be best for the Jets.

Sanchez has to play well, and he needs to start playing well from the first day of the season. He doesn't have any rope and he isn't going to get any without showing people that there's a reason to think mistakes are the exception instead of the rule. 

If he can't do that, then chaos is going to result and Tebowmania is going to happen and the clown car New York Post covers will flourish and so on and so on. It's not the outcome anyone would want, but everyone knows that if the possibility is out there and you might as well get it out of the way sooner rather than later.

When chaos is coming, you might as well embrace it.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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