Bills Facing Rare Season-Opening Pressure Against Jets in Week 1

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Bills Facing Rare Season-Opening Pressure Against Jets in Week 1
Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE

If the New York Jets don't beat the Buffalo Bills at home to start the 2012 NFL season, well, it'll get ugly in the Big Apple. 

Come on, this is the Buffalo Bills we're talking about here. A team that hasn't made the playoffs since 1999. A team with a former seventh-round pick out of Harvard at quarterback who led the league in interceptions last year. The Bills! 

The media will jump at the opportunity to bash a Jets team they called a circus all summer, a team that appeared complacent after two trips to the AFC championship game and an 8-8 2011 record by not giving a concerted effort to improve weak roster positions this offseason.

Fans weary of witnessing offensive ineptitude won't hesitate to chant "TEE-BOW" at the top of their lungs, either. 

All the makings of a chaotic scene for the Jets, all after just one loss. 

But what about these Bills? 

What would a loss mean to them? What would it do to their fans and their media? 

Oh, nothing, they're just the Bills, the NFL's doormat. Losing is second nature.

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Actually, for the first time in, say, a decade, the Bills are facing an unusually large amount of pressure in their season opener. 

Sure, they've recently kicked off a season with a "big" game—a 2009 showdown with Tom Brady in New England that included Terrell Owens' Buffalo debut instantly comes to mind—but this time, it's different. 

Much different. 

For once, many expect Buffalo to win a game of this magnitude. When has that ever happened? Not in a long, long time. 

Not only do many believe they'll beat the supposedly severely flawed Jets, but a fair share of "experts" have the Bills advancing to the postseason. 

Yeah, the expectations have been heightened that much. I guess that's what signing a pass-rusher to a $100 million deal will do. 

Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Yet again, on Sunday against the Jets, Buffalo has another prime opportunity to shake the "same old Bills" reputation that, frankly, has haunted the organization and its devout fans since the days of Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed. 

With a win, they'll take the critical first step in an arduous journey out of the AFC basement against a team they, to some, should beat—a club that's beaten them in seven of the last eight meetings. 

After collapses in 2008 and 2011, the NFL's media contingent and Bills fans understand an early-season win should only yield tempered excitement, but that's not the point.

Which team faces more pressure in Week 1

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For a team that's been so thoroughly disappointing, "one win at a time" has to be the mantra. 

A loss will be more crushing than usual, especially with the set of circumstances the Jets find themselves in right now. After the masses thought highly of the Bills, that infrequent optimistic sentiment will vanish and Buffalo will revert to being the "same old Bills."

Sure, that sentiment will have 15 more weeks to return, but Buffalo's futile history will undoubtedly hinder the recurrence of hopeful thoughts. 

So, on the surface, the Jets face an ungodly amount of pressure on Sunday. They're at home. They've talked—a lot. They've bought into Tim Tebow but reassured everyone Mark Sanchez is the starting QB. They dealt with Wayne Hunter. They stunk up the preseason. They're playing Buffalo. Yeah, Buffalo.

But don't think the Bills, the perennial loser with rare lofty expectations, have nothing to lose as the road underdog against these Jets. 

They most certainly do. 

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