DETROIT - Mother Nature proved to be a formidable opponent for the NFL.
After record snowfall last week blanketed western New York, wreaking havoc on highways and leaving Buffalo-area residents trapped in their homes for several days, the Bills finally are able to focus on football.
After a lake-effect storm dumped about 7 feet of snow on the Bills' home, Ralph Wilson Stadium, the league was forced to move Sunday's's 1 p.m. game against the Jets to Detroit's Ford Field tonight at 7.
The Bills (5-5) canceled their Wednesday and Thursday practices and had to use snowmobiles to rescue players from their homes Friday. But even with all the uncertainty surrounding the game, Bills president Russ Brandon insisted his team would make no excuses.
But the Jets (2-8) are the ones who can't afford to lose. After a bye, Rex Ryan's players are as healthy and rested as they've been all season. The Jets were handed another advantage when the game was moved to a neutral site, negating the possibility of crowd noise.
"Instead of having 70,000 screaming fans, I would say it'd be easier,'' Ryan said.
He helped to make the bull's-eye bigger when he declared the Jets are "a zillion ways'' better than they were the last time they faced the Bills. Ryan said the 43-23 loss Oct. 26 was one of the low points of their season. Geno Smith and Michael Vick committed six turnovers as the Jets were embarrassed. But the defeat also signaled a shift in the offense. Vick was named to start the next game, and he still has the job.
"I don't know if it's a spark,'' linebacker Calvin Pace said of Vick, "but I know that we're playing better. It's a credit to him. He hadn't played a lot, and when he came in and really got a chance for it to be his show, he's done well. I expect him to keep doing the same.''
After only three weeks, the Jets are much improved in "almost every way,'' Ryan said. But now they'll have to prove it.
Unlike the Bills, the Jets have had plenty of time to prepare for the rematch. Another edge is that Ford Field, an indoor stadium, will let the shifty Vick run and throw without the threat of the elements.
"If it was going to rain, it would affect me, because I don't throw a good wet ball,'' Vick said. "I was worried about that. Now, going indoors, I ain't got an excuse not to be accurate.''
According to reports, the Bills were hopeful the game would be moved to an outdoor stadium in order to throw Vick, who has issues protecting the football, off his game. Ryan, however, said playing outdoors wouldn't have affected his players.
"We were preparing outside the whole week,'' he said. "We are ready to play them outside, we are ready to play them anywhere.''
Free-market capitalism. The Lions quickly ran out of free online tickets for the game, but they announced an additional 500 freebies, with a limit of two per person, would be distributed at the Ford Field box office from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. According to an ESPN.com report, they were gone in 10 minutes, and scalpers quickly pounced on the chance to sell on the street. One entrepreneur, who was selling tickets for $125 apiece, told the website: "This ain't a free game, man.''