With word slowly leaking out about the Jets possibly hosting the now annual night game on Thanksgiving and because the Jets play so many good teams at home in 2010 who would be the Jets opponent if in fact the Jets are indeed going to play host to the nation on Thanksgiving Night?
The NFL has played a third game every Thanksgiving since 2006. While four years isn't really long enough to determine whether or not this is a specific routine it does show a fairly obvious pattern:
In 2006 the game was played by AFC Conference opponents.
In 2007 the game was played by non Conference opponents.
In 2008 the game was played by NFC Conference opponents.
In 2009 the game was played by non Conference opponents.
If the above pattern holds true to form this season and if the Jets host a Thanksgiving game it would probably be against an AFC team. If the game does take place looking at the Jets home schedule you would likely eliminate Green Bay and Minnesota as possible opponents, leaving the following teams:
Buffalo, Miami, New England, Houston, Cincinnati and Baltimore
I think the easiest team to eliminate from the above group would be Buffalo. The Bills have only one winning season in their last ten and last won a playoff game back in 1995. Buffalo also generates very little in terms of a national buzz. Translation: bad ratings.
Additionally, another team from the AFCE must play the Lions earlier in the day and because I doubt the NFL wants three AFCE teams playing on Thanksgiving I think both Miami and NE can be eliminated as possible opponents for the Jets on Thanksgiving night. After eliminating the above teams we are left with three possible opponents:
Houston, Cincinnati and Baltimore
Since there isn't any real history between the two clubs (the Jets have swept the four games played between the teams) and because they are very much a Jekyll & Hyde kind of a team IMO I would remove Houston from consideration.
Cincinnati could be a possibility, while there's also not a whole lot of history between these two teams there is some recent history. The Jets played the Bengals in back to back games in Week 17 and in the Divisional round of the playoffs. The whole Ocho Cinco on Revis island bit did generate a considerable amount of press but I just don't think a marquee match up between a WR and a CB holds much an allure nationally. When you also factor in how easily the Jets dispatched the Bengals in both of those games(outscoring Cincinnati 61-14) and the fact that the Bengals can also be a very up and down team from year to year I don't think they would be the opponent the NFL would want in this spot.
After eliminating the rest of the Jets home schedule the opponent that's left that could provide the best back story and the best game would be the Baltimore Ravens. A Ravens-Jets match up would pit two mirror image teams going against one another. For a back story you've got Rex Ryan going up against his former defense, you've got Ray Lewis and Ed Reed going up against their former defensive co-ordinator.
You have two teams who both play the same in your face smash mouth kind of football, both teams play tenacious defense, both teams run the ball well, both teams have up and coming QB's, both teams have solid head coaches and perhaps most important both teams should be serious contenders on the AFC.
Since the NFL doesn't like showcasing their marquee games on holidays (which is why it's doubtful you will wind up with a New Orleans-Dallas or New England-Jets Thanksgiving Day game) should the Jets wind up hosting the late Thanksgivings Day game I would put my money on a Ravens-Jets game for all the reasons listed above.
Not to mention that it might just be one helluva game.