The 2012 season is just months away, and for good or for worse, the attention is all on the Jets and Giants.
While the Giants prepare to defend their championship from the past year, the Jets will try to rebound from a disappointing year in which they failed to make the playoffs. The Giants proved a team can make the playoffs and win with a sub-par defense, while the Jets proved that having a top-five defense isn't enough to punch a ticket to the playoffs.
The Giants will undoubtedly work on their defense, while the Jets will try to maintain the strongest aspect of their team, but which club will have the better defense in 2012?
The Giants' D struggled in 2011, ranking 27th in total defense, giving up 376.4 yards a game. They allowed over 300 first downs, ranking 26th in the league.
The only teams to give up more that made the playoffs were the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots, but Tom Coughlin's side made up for that with an explosive offense. While their rush defense fared well, ranking 19th in the league in yards allowed, their pass defense struggled mightily, finishing 29th in the league in yards per game.
Their rush defense will undoubtedly get better with Osi Umenyiora returning, playing alongside captain Justin Tuck, Chris Canty and Linval Joseph. Jason Pierre-Paul will also be in prime form after his breakout campaign in 2011, while the addition of 12-year veteran Shaun Rogers will only make them better.
Improvement needs to come from their pass defense, and it will with cornerback Terrell Thomas returning from injury. Thomas, their No. 1 corner in 2010, watched his team play in the Super Bowl, and will look to earn his first Pro Bowl selection next year.
And with another year under their belts, 2010 first-round pick Prince Amukamara and 2011 third-round pick Jayron Hosley should improve in 2012.
Which team will have the better defense in 2012?
The Jets boasted one of the best defenses in the league, ranking 5th in the NFL, but still managed to miss the playoffs; the only top-five defensive team to do that. While not as dominant as the previous year, the Jets still proved their defense is still one of the best and should be again in 2012.
Their pass defense continued to stifle quarterbacks in 2011, ranking 5th in the league in passing yards allowed per game. With Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie returning, look for the success to continue for the Jets' strong pass defense.
The improvement needs to come in their rush offense. While they ranked an average 13th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game, it was a dramatic drop-off from their 2010 campaign, in which they ranked 3rd in the league.
With the selection of defensive end Quinton Coples, improvement should come and they should fare better, with the strong defensive schemes of coach Rex Ryan.
With all this said, the Jets should have a better defense by far than the Giants.
It has been the strongest aspect of their team ever since Rex Ryan came in as the head coach, becoming one of the best defenses year in and year out. Strength of schedule also helps the Jets, as theirs is ranked 20th for the upcoming year.
Playing against only six quality opponents next season, the Jets have an opportunity to become dominant once again.
The Giants' schedule will be the hardest in league, playing 7 quality opponents, some of which come at the end of the year against the New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons, and their NFC East foes the Philadelphia Eagles.
While the Giants are defending Super Bowl champions, it doesn't guarantee a dominant defense, and the Jets will play with a chip on their shoulder, hungrier than ever to make the playoffs.
The start of the 2012 season is looming, and the Jets should have no problem boasting the best defense in New York.