FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Brett Favre" id="PESPT002187">Brett Favre isn't trying to fake it.

He can talk at length about some of the league's most intense rivalries that he has been involved with, but New York Jets" id="ORSPT000199">Jets- New England Patriots" id="ORSPT000192">Patriots isn't one of them.

"Well, it feels different, obviously, because it's not ... I played 16 years straight in the Metrodome, Soldier Field" id="PLTRA0000156">Soldier Field," Favre said of the Packers' primary rivals, the Vikings and Bears. "That I can't wipe away."

But that's not to say he doesn't appreciate the magnitude of tonight's AFC East first-place showdown between the 6-3 Jets and 6-3 Patriots.

"I know exactly what this game means, the weight it carries," Favre said Tuesday. "I'm well aware of what New England has done over the past decade or so. Once again, it just comes down to football. I'm well aware of what this game means."

As does everyone else involved with the Jets, who have been dominated by their hated rival since Bill Belichick took over in New England in 2000. The Patriots have won 13 of the 15 meetings, though Favre has been there for only one of them.

That was a 19-10 loss in Week2, Matt Cassel's first start as Tom Brady" id="PESPT000789">Tom Brady's replacement. The game is remembered for Favre's third-quarter interception that led to a Patriots' touchdown and the Jets failing on three straight Thomas Jones" id="PESPT003769">Thomas Jones goal-line runs in the second quarter that guard Brandon Moore called "the low point" of the season.

Cassel, when called on, has made plays since then, but Favre believes he's also made strides, his recent title of "game manager" aside. "I think I'm up to date, for the most part, on what they're doing," Favre said of the difference in comfort with the offense he feels between now and Week 2.

General manager Mike Tannenbaum and coach Eric Mangini" id="PESPT008590">Eric Mangini swung the deal for Favre not with this game specifically in mind, but one like it. They brought the future Hall of Famer to New York not only to put the Jets in position to play in a meaningful game like this, but to win it.

Asked that "this is why they brought you here" question, Favre gave a mischievous grin.

"That may be true, then again it might not be true," he said. "That may have been why we brought [nose tackle] Kris Jenkins in. Let's put it off on Kris."

But Favre knows better, as do his teammates, who yesterday expressed a certain trust in going into a hostile environment with someone who has played in these "big" games for nearly 20 years.

"He's had so many comebacks in games and played in so many big games, it definitely builds a little bit higher confidence knowing a guy like that is leading your team," said rookie tight end Dustin Keller, who had his first 100-yard game Sunday against the Rams.

Tackle Damien Woody" id="PESPT008097">Damien Woody played in a bunch of important games with the Patriots from 1999-2003, then not so many in Detroit.

"It is good to have someone like Brett out there to really know how to direct traffic, someone who's been in these pressure-type situations that I'm sure we're going to be in," Woody said.

And maybe it's a benefit that Favre hasn't experienced nearly the amount of frustration against the Patriots that teammates Shaun Ellis" id="PESPT002075">Shaun Ellis and Laveranues Coles" id="PESPT001389">Laveranues Coles have. The Jets have oozed looseness and confidence during this short work week but also a healthy respect for their longtime tormentor.

"They're still a great team," Coles said. "They're still the team to beat until somebody proves otherwise."

Coles gave a rueful smile when it was implied that the Patriots, who have lost Brady, running back Laurence Maroney, safety Rodney Harrison" id="PESPT003022">Rodney Harrison and linebacker Adalius Thomas" id="PESPT007301">Adalius Thomas to injuries, had suffered one personnel hit too many.

"They still do what they do, nothing's changed," Coles said. "They're going to play their style of football, they're going to run their plays, they're going do what they do. They're just always going to be New England. New England doesn't change."