Today we witnessed what could potentially wind up as both conference-finals matchups.
The Titans entered today with an undefeated record against a hot Jets team that has rebounded from an embarrassing O.T. loss to Oakland a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, the Giants, class of the NFC, played the surprising Arizona Cardinals in their first visit to Arizona since the Super Bowl.
There are a lot of very interesting storylines involved in these two games, including the Titans' so-far-undefeated record. That story got even more interesting when the Jets took them off their podium, proving the Titans to be beatable. More important, though, was the statement the Jets made: "We are for real."
The AFC East was opened up with Tom Brady's week one injury, and the Jets have capitalized on their opportunity. They pulled even with the 8-3 Steelers, and cannot be ignored in Super Bowl discussions. They have a proven winner at quarterback, and the team looks sharp in every aspect.
But let's not discount the Titans yet. They still have but one loss, and their D is still very good. They've managed to play very well despite an early QB change, and there's no reason to think they can't keep doing well.
Another intriguing story surrounds the reigning Super Bowl champs, but not for what they've done this year, but their history: the last three Giants quarterbacks started for three of these teams. Eli Manning obviously runs the show these days in New York Jersey, but he played the man he replaced: Kurt Warner. Meanwhile, the Jets played the man Warner stepped in for: Kerry Collins. Who would have thought that Kerry Collins would enter Week 12 leading an undefeated squad?
Obviously, the Giants are quite a story, as few predicted they could repeat last year's title, yet most commentators seem to favor them now that they're 10-1. They've done it without last year's star defensive ends, Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora. But the bigger story surrounds their opponent, the somehow-awesome Arizona Cardinals.
They entered today's game with a chance to clinch the NFC west, and while they didn't end up doing so, they're still a very interesting story. After years of futility, this team is likely playoff-bound, and they just came out of nowhere. Sure, they're helped by a crappy division, but they are legit.
But the biggest story focuses on the two teams that won. If these matchups are indeed an omen of things to come, and the results are the same, the Giants and Jets would face each other in the Super Bowl for the first time ever. Both teams are quite real, and it's a very definite possibility that we could have an all-New Jersey Super Bowl.
The Jets had their statement game today, and while the Giants have had a statement SEASON, they still managed to strengthen their case today. They once again defeated a very good team, something they've proven they can do, and they did it without their top running back and top receiver: Brandon Jacobs sat the game out with an injury, and Plaxico Burress played only one series before re-aggravating an injury of his own.
But the Giants showed their depth, and prevailed regardless. They even got Madison Hedgecock into the mix, giving the fullback his first NFL touchdown.
Sure, there are the Panthers, the Buccaneers, the Patriots, and the Steelers. You can't discount the Dolphins, and the Cowboys are back and ready to roll. But these four teams may be the best in the NFL, and the Giants and Jets may repeat their Week 12 performances en route to an historic Super Bowl matchup.