Top 7 storylines for the Bills-Jets home opener

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Pick your storyline. There's no shortage of compelling reasons to pay attention to the Bills-Jets matchup this Thursday night. Here are seven of the top storylines for this short week leading into the game:

1. THE JETS/BILLS RIVALRY HAS NEVER BEEN HOTTER

The Bills all-time record against the Jets is 59-51, the only AFC East team they've got a winning record against. And it's five straight Bills wins and counting against "Gang Green."

Last year's two matchups were memorable. The image still lingers of Rex Ryan's fourth quarter fist pump in the Thursday night game in the Meadowlands as the Bills finished off the Jets last November.

And a depleted Buffalo roster knocked the Jets out of the playoffs in the season finale, a 22-17 Buffalo win that featured three fourth quarter interceptions by Bills defenders.

The Bills have won the last five times they've played the Jets, including sweeps in the last two years.

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  1. AFC EAST LOOKS VAGUELY FAMILIAR**

For a decade and a half, the standings in the AFC East have looked remarkably similar year-to-year. The Patriots have won the division in the last seven seasons and 13 of the last 15 years. And after one week of the 2016 campaign, there are the Patriots on top with a 1-0 record-the Bills, Jets and Dolphins are all 0-1.

This week's Bills-Jets matchup is the first intra-divisional game of the season, and the first chance for the Bills or the Jets to separate themselves from the pack.

3. BUFFALO'S OFFENSE IS IN NEED OF A BOUNCE BACK

The Bills approached near historically low levels of offensive output in the opener at Baltimore Sunday. And they'll be challenged to turn it around this week against a Jets team that finished fourth in defense in the NFL last year.

4. BILLS OFFENSIVE LINE VS JETS DEFENSIVE LINE

The strength of the Jets defense is up front with Mo Wilkerson one of the best defensive linemen in the league. Todd Bowles' Jets defense will give the Bills offensive line everything they can handle this Thursday.

Last season, the Bills failed to pick up 300 yards of total offense in each of their matchups against the Jets but managed to win them both.

5. THE BILLS-JETS RIVALRY IS RIDDLED WITH CONNECTIONS

On the Bills side, there's former Jets Coach Rex Ryan now at the helm, with his former Jets' assistants Bobby April III, Sanjay Lal, David Lee, Anthony Lynn, D'Anton Lynn, Tim McDonald, Jason Oszvart, Eric Smith, Kathryn Smith, Tony Sparano and Jeff Weeks now on the Buffalo staff.

For the Jets, Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey, QBs Coach Kevin Patullo, and Defensive Line Coach Pepper Johnson did coaching stints in Buffalo.

The most notable connection on the Jets roster is QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was with the Bills for four seasons and started 53 games for the Bills. And Buffalo DE Leger Douzable played with the Jets for the last three seasons.

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  1. NUMBER 78 RETIRED FOREVER**

The Bills will retire the jersey of Hall of Famer Bruce Smith in a special halftime ceremony Thursday, featuring many of Smith's former Bills teammates. Smith is just the second player in team history to have his jersey number retired.  Jim Kelly's number 12 was retired 15 years ago.

"If you played this game at a certain level, you would want to be recognized as being one of the best, which is being in Pro Football's Hall of Fame," Smith said last summer. "And then, the ultimate--never having your jersey worn again by another player.  That leaves you speechless."

Bruce will have to find his voice at halftime Thursday night when he addressed the crowd at New Era Field.

7. NATIONAL PRIME TIME TV---AND TWITTER

The Bills are hosting a national prime time game for the first time in four years. The matchup with the Jets will be broadcast on CBS TV and the NFL Network.

It will also be streamed digitally on Twitter, as part of the new Tri-Cast Thursday night NFL model.

Last year, the Bills-Jacksonville game in London was the first global live stream of a regular season NFL game. Now, the Bills vs. the Jets will break new ground on Twitter.

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