You'll almost never hear that a team is facing a must-win in Week 1 of the NFL season, but that's precisely what many are calling the New York Jets' first game of the 2012 season when they host the division rival Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. Any non-elimination game in any sport is never truly a "must win", but there are plenty of potential ramifications for Gang Green if they don't get off to a good start.
Of course, the possibility that most of the fans and media are keeping their eye on falls with the potential controversy between quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow. Many thought that last year was a step back for the incumbent Sanchez, who threw a career high 26 touchdowns but also thres 18 interceptions and had a late season meltdown that was part of a season-ending three game losing streak, keeping the Jets out of the playoffs. At that same time, Tebow took the Denver Broncos to the playoffs and defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Divisional Round, captuing the attention of the world despite very iffy individual play.
Against the Bills, we'll finally get to see Tebow how the Jets envision using him. During the preseason he was merely the team's backup quarterback, but the Jets brought him to town to run the Wildcat formation (and perhaps push and even maybe take over for Sanchez, should he struggle). With the Jets trying to keep secrets during most of the preseason, this will be our first true look at Tebow as a Jet.
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The Bills are a team that many prognosticators have as a team ready to make a big leap. They addressed their defense by bringing in big-time free agent Mario Williams, who will test the Jets' work-in-progress offensive line right off the bat. On offense, the Bills hope quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick can regain the form he showed in the first five weeks of last year, when Buffalo was a national feel-good story. This year, the Bills will try to stay in the national discussion until January.
For the Jets, nose tackle Sione Pouha and safety Eric Smith are notable players who are out. Tight end Dustin Keller, sure to be one of Sanchez's favorite targets, is listed as questionable but is likely to play. The most notable Bills player on the injury report is wide receiver Steve Johnson who is listed as questionable.
CBS, Marv Albert and Rich Gannon.