There's no such thing as a must-win in September, but this one comes darn close -- the Jets (1-1) hosting the Bills (1-1) Sunday at MetLife Stadium. The Jets need it, badly, coming off a tough loss to the Patriots.
Aside from the obvious impact on the AFC East standings -- loser owns the basement -- it's huge for the Jets because of the various circumstances surrounding the game. It's a battle of the rookie quarterbacks -- Geno Smith vs. EJ Manuel. The Jets passed twice on Manuel in the draft (ditto, Smith), but they had Smith rated higher on their draft board. Now he gets a chance to validate that faith.
It's also teacher vs. pupil, Rex Ryan facing former Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who holds the same position with the Bills. It would be embarrassing for the Jets if Pettine, using what he learned from Ryan, handles Smith better than his mentor does with Manuel.
Plus, it's a division game. You can't lose division games at home. The Jets have owned the rivalry in recent years, having won six of the last seven (they lost the 2012 season finale), but you get the sense there's a new energy in Buffalo under rookie coach Doug Marrone.
ICYMI: Positive news on the injury front: DE Muhammad Wilkerson (sprained ankle), WR Jeremy Kerley (concussion) and LB Quinton Coples (fractured ankle) were on the practice field Monday, participating to varying degrees. Did the Jets miss Kerley or what? ... Smith is finding out what it's like to be involved in a quarterback controversy. On Monday, he was grilled with questions about his week-to-week status, about Mark Sanchez's claim that he had the competition locked up before his injury and about new rumblings that Matt Simms could be a factor. Hmm, interesting timing on the Simms stuff, wouldn't you say?