This Christmas Eve, the New York Giants and the New York Jets will meet in the regular season for the first time since the 2007 meeting. Unlike that last matchup, this one is late in the year with both teams fighting for their playoffs lives.
The Jets have a chance to put themselves in a great position to lock up the No. 6 seed in the AFC with a win this Saturday. They entered the season with lofty expectations and have not lived up to what Rex Ryan imagined prior to the season, but getting in the playoffs gives you new life.
The Giants are eliminated from wild card contention, but still control their own destiny. If they win their remaining two games they will win the NFC East, no matter what happens with the Cowboys and Eagles on Saturday.
You could make the case that the Cowboys game is more important for the Giants, considering if they lose to the Jets, the Cowboys lose to the Eagles, the Eagles lose to the Redskins and the Giants beat the Cowboys, they'll still win the division.
But how ridiculous did that just look? The Giants should be done expecting help from other teams—they have to start taking matters in to their own hands.
While everything could fall in to place after a loss to the Jets, there is no way the Giants would feel good about their playoff chances after that.
Of course there is another reason this game is important—that whole cross town rival thing has been heating up all week like we knew it would.
Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks got in to the madness after Rex Ryan claimed the Jets have been "better" since 2009. No one would dispute that after back to back AFC Championship performances.
But Cruz and Nicks' shots were aimed at Jets Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis.
“I mean, he’s a decent corner,” Nicks said. “He’s decent.” With his teammate Cruz agreeing, saying that “teams aren’t really scared anymore.”
I guess watching Steve Johnson be the only person to get the better of Revis has them confident. I wouldn't be so sure of those statements.
But like Tom Coughlin said "talk is cheap" and said everything will be decided on the field on Saturday. Being who he is, Ryan did not take too kindly to that.
"That is the old saying. Talk is cheap, money buys whiskey. I understand all of that. You know, that’s the truth. I don’t care about Tom Coughlin or anybody else. I know how I believe. Quite honestly, I could care less what anybody thinks."
And of course with the Giants receivers taking aim at Revis, Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes took a well-aimed shot at the Giants secondary.
"They’ve given up big plays. They’re poor-tackling guys. We know plays can be made over their head."
You know the Giants could not let that slide. Starting corner Corey Webster responded by saying "Can’t wait to see him come Saturday . I hope he is ready to bring his ‘A’ game."
You must be getting tired of quotes, but both teams have been such loud mouths all year long can you expect any different when they are playing each other?
Brandon Jacobs has been running his mouth a lot this year, and didn't shy away in front of the mic this week.
Jacobs believes New York is a Giants town no matter what happens on Saturday. "They’re going to need a hell of a lot more than [winning] this game to make [it a Jets town]."
Obviously this game means a lot for both teams, there is no denying that, but I have to agree with Jacobs about the city as a whole.
New York and New Jersey has and always will be Giants territory, based on the fact that they have been the better franchise both in how much they are competitive and how many trophies they've won.
The Giants have three Super Bowls to the Jets one, and seven total championships to just one. Even considering when both teams have been franchises (1960-present), the Giants own them in championships three to one, and playoff appearances 17-14.
You could definitely argue the Jets have been better since Rex Ryan took over. The Giants have missed the playoffs both years and, as mentioned before, the Jets have been to the AFC Championship game both years.
But what do the Jets have to show for it? Fans get to watch their team for a couple games longer, but the ultimate prize has evaded them.
Not to mention the Jets have only two more regular-season wins during that time.
So while there is much at stake for both teams in 2011 on Saturday afternoon, it means little more than temporary bragging rights.
But fans on either side will be insufferable with those bragging rights, myself included. The "which team is better" debate has raged on ever since Ryan took over the Jets in 2009, and the debate will finally be settled on the field.
Both teams have everything to play for, which makes the game that much better. There will be no excuses, no mercy and no love lost.