Thoughts on Sunday's game

 I have to admit I'm torn heading into the Buffalo Bills' season finale. Losing would have its benefits, if only because it could mean the difference between a top-five pick and an inferior pick several slots later.

I'll concede that the defeatists who've been crowing for the team to tank so it could land the No. 1 overall pick have a solid argument: the higher the pick in April, the better the chance to bring in the type of impact player around whom the Bills could rebuild this big broken machine.

(Never mind that Andrew Luck, when confronted with the possibility of living and playing here, would balk and head back to the comforts of Southern California for his senior year).

But I'm sticking to my guns. In August I posted that if Buffalo wins two games all season, it should be against the hated New York Jets. The objective, big-picture-minded angel on my right shoulder assures me that a loss is ultimately in the organization's best interest. "Wait until April," she calmly whispers, "when the team gets the better pick."

But this benevolent, levelheaded angel long ago succumbed to the din of the spiteful, indulgent devil on my left shoulder, as is usually the case. "It's the freakin' Jets!" he bellows. "It would be sweet to beat a big, fat bully like Rex Ryan and his band of classless, spotlight-hogging hoods, and send them into the playoffs bruised and timid."

This Buffalo team's wins haven't been of the best quality. Does anyone really believe the Dolphins or Browns were serious playoff contenders? And do defeats of Lions and Bengals mean all that much? On the other hand, this group deserved to beat playoff-caliber teams like the Steelers, Ravens and Chiefs, and some of these guys have proven they will be part of this team's future, in 2011 and beyond. It could do wonders for their confidence to dropkick a quality, playoff-bound—and AFC East opponent, mind you—team that embarrassed them in front of the home crowd back in October.

Has anyone stopped to consider that such a win could mean as much as the addition of an impact player in April? OK, probably not.

Nevertheless, that devil in my left ear seethes with anger and vengeance. He revels in the fact that Mark Sanchez struggles and doesn't appear to be in the top echelon of NFL quarterbacks; delights that Ryan's foot fetishes have been placed front and center before the ravenous New York City media; wants to permanently muzzle that ridiculous "J-E-T-S" chanting "firefighter" clown and send him home crying and hung over.

Yes, that obnoxious little demon in my ear would be in his heaven if the Jets, after all their bombast and trash talk, all their childish airplane celebrations and "Hard Knocks" hooey, lost to the lowly Bills and then made a hasty exit from the playoffs.

And I'd be right there with him, higher draft pick be damned.



John Hakes, 34, lives in Tonawanda with his wife, Jessica. A 15-year Buffalo area resident, he has written for a series of publications in the region, including the Buffalo News and the Niagara Gazette.

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