While most preseason games are generally just a chance for the starters to go through the motions and for rookies and younger players to do their best to impress their coaches, tonight’s Jets-Giants game has a distinctly different feel to it.
It might be because of the new attitude that Rex Ryan has brought to the Jets, or possibly because both teams have been doing an inordinate amount of jawing leading up to the game, but for whatever reason this feels more like a regular season game than an exhibition.
At the end of the day, this game doesn’t impact the standings, and regardless of who emerges with the win, it’s not going to drastically change either team’s situation heading into the regular season.
But there is one thing that both teams are playing for tonight—pride.
It’s accepted throughout New York that the Giants have been the main draw and the Jets have played the little brother role for the majority of their existence.
However, New Yorkers and NFL junkies alike saw a slight shift in this dynamic last season, as the Giants played some of their worst games toward the end of the season and missed out on the playoffs, while the Jets made an inspiring run to the AFC Championship game and nearly made the Super Bowl.
Because of the Jets history of playing second fiddle to the Giants for most of their existence as well as the Giants embarrassing play down the stretch in 2009, both teams enter tonight’s game—as well as the 2010 regular season—with a chip on their shoulder.
Of course anyone who cares about this game will be looking at the usual story lines such as how rookies Jason Pierre-Paul, Linval Joseph, Kyle Wilson, Vladimir Ducasse, Matt Slauson, Phillip Dillard, and Joe McKnight will fare in their professional debuts.
But let’s take a look at the other story lines that will be in play when the Giants and Jets take the field tonight.