T.O. tilt an NFL stinker?

ROB LONGLEY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:45 AM ET

The dome-half-full take on the Miami Dolphins being the Buffalo Bills' first regular-season opponent in Toronto is that it is a good draw -- a hated division rival kicking off the five-year series.

The dome-half-empty view? -- the futile fish were an NFL-worse 1-15 in 2007.

While there are both pros and cons, Toronto organizers were celebrating yesterday's release of the 2008 NFL schedule. Following a pre-season game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Rogers Centre will play host to the Bills and Dolphins on Dec. 7, the first NFL regular-season game to be played in Canada.

"The rivalry is legendary," said Phil Lind, the COO of Rogers Communication, which bought rights to eight games over the next five seasons. "I think it demonstrates the league's commitment to the Bills in Toronto series."

Bills general manager and COO Russ Brandon said the team had "zero input" on its opponent, but it is clear the league wanted to send a team with strong name recognition.

Though the rivalry has lost some venom in recent years -- Buffalo has won seven-of-eight meetings against Miami -- the Dolphins hold a hated spot among Western New Yorkers, which is why many fans there were outraged at the news of the game, with call-in shows and internet chat rooms buzzing over the news.

"There are going to be people up there who don't give a rat's you know what about (the opponent)," one disgruntled caller told WGR 55 radio. "It's just a publicity thing."

It is anything but for Brandon and team owner Ralph Wilson. With a struggling economy, the Bills believe crossing the border in an official way is key to keeping the team in Western New York.

In this case, Buffalo's loss is Toronto's gain. And who knows, fans lucky enough to get tickets may even see failed Argo Ricky Williams have more success as a Dolphin.

PLAYOFF AMBITIONS

Bills coach Dick Jauron, meanwhile, would like to see his team's inaugural trip north of the border have playoff implications.

"Hopefully down the stretch we will be making a playoff run," Jauron said. "Hopefully at that time they will be critical games for us."

With a schedule ranked just the 27th toughest in the league, the Bills could be in contention in December.

Organizers announced last week that more than 100,000 fans had signed up for tickets on www.billsintoronto.com. That total has swollen to more than 120,000. Buffalo Bills and Toronto Argos season-ticket holders get first crack, meaning quick sellouts for both games are likely. Organizers estimate the Rogers Centre will seat 54,000 for NFL games.


Videos

Photos