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Santonio Holmes #10 of the New York Jets completes a touchdown reception against Jairus Byrd #31.
When one thinks of the history of the Jets and the Bills, very little good comes to mind.
The teams have a habit of playing games that are either an affront to the eyes or one-sided routs much more often than they play anything that would stick out in your mind as a true classic.
Recent years have seen Brett Favre outduel J.P. Losman in a mistake-filled 2008 bit of nightmare fuel, Mark Sanchez throwing five picks as a rookie to cause a Jets loss in a game that saw them run for 318 yards and a pair of thoroughly unmemorable blowout wins by the Jets last year.
In the entire history of the series (51 years, dating back to the AFL), the two teams have met with winning records this late in the season only nine other times. This isn't anything that HBO is going to make a miniseries out of one day, in other words.
Unless, of course, this Sunday is the start of something big. The Bills and Jets are going to square off in a game with serious playoff implications for the first time in an extremely long time.
The insipid history makes it all the more interesting that they find themselves in this position. Jets-Patriots and Jets-Dolphins have lots of built-in memories that make it easy to generate passion, but this game is going to exist in its own little vacuum because there are so few ties between the teams.
There's Brad Smith, but a kick returner and occasional Wildcat quarterback doesn't exactly equal Favre facing off against the Packers for the first time. Aaron Maybin has finally shown some life since arriving with the Jets and any ax he might have to grind against the Bills pales in comparison to their ill will toward a guy who didn't make a single play during his career in Buffalo.
The absence of TV-ready storylines -- outside of the beaten-to-death "Ryan Fitzpatrick went to Harvard" one, anyway -- means that we'll just have to focus on the game for entertainment value. Given the different styles of the two teams, that should work out pretty well.
Brute force on the Jets' side will meet the big-play lovers from Buffalo, highlighted by the Jets defense's attempt to slow down Fitzpatrick and Fred Jackson. Fitzpatrick rarely gets sacked, which will make the non-Darrelle Revis members of the secondary crucial players, and Jackson is going to force the Jets to prove that they are over their earlier issues stopping the run.
It's always interesting to see which side wins out when two teams with such different styles square off, so Sunday should have plenty to keep you interested. If things continue down this path, we might just wind up looking at it as the start of a beautiful new rivalry.