With the battle for New York set for Christmas Eve, the New York Giants prepare for their “road” test against the New York Jets with their seasons on the line. After an ugly defeat at the hands of the Washington Redskins in Week 15 at home 23-10, the Giants no longer hold the NFC East lead and must win their remaining two games to clinch the division and their first playoff birth since 2008.
The Jets are also fighting for their playoff lives following a crushing 45-19 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. They sit in a much safer position than the Giants at this time, though. A victory would put them in perfect position to lock up one of the two wild-card spots in the AFC.
Both sides have been talking their heads off all week—players, coaches and fans alike—and this game promises to be an exciting one from start to finish.
The Giants and Jets have both faced bumpy roads throughout this season, having to overcome their fair share of injuries and on-field struggles to be where they sit in the standings today. With both teams coming off terrible losses and the regular season racing to an end, they will both look to turn it around against their stadium-mates and claim rights to the “top team in New York”—at least for 2011.
Since sharing a stadium for the first time in 1984, the New York Giants are 6-2 against the Jets. In their last four meetings since Week 4 of 1996, the Giants have won four straight, including three straight games with 30 or more points against the New York Jets. But none of those wins have come against this Jets team led by head coach Rex Ryan, and that’s something he’s planning to keep true come Sunday in MetLife Stadium.
Looking at the numbers, it’s clear the Giants have had the advantage over the Jets in years past, but who has the advantage entering Week 16?
There is no question that the New York Giants have had one of the most successful passing attacks all season. That fantastic passing attack took a big hit in Week 15 when Eli Manning struggled, throwing three interceptions, and Manning’s stellar receiving corps dropped some big passes, including two touchdown drops by Hakeem Nicks.
That poor offensive display through the air is not a positive look heading into a game with the NFL’s most dangerous cornerback tandem—Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie.
While Nicks and Cruz may not be too concerned, it is not an accident that the Jets are the seventh-best passing defense in terms of yards allowed and third in opposing quarterback rating (70.7).
Add in the fact that not one single wide receiver on the Jets’ schedule outside of Stevie Johnson—who did a good job dropping some big plays in that Week 12 loss for the Buffalo Bills himself—has been able to give the NFL’s best cornerback, Darrelle Revis, a difficult afternoon this season.
Still, the Giants are one of the elite passing attacks in the NFL, and Eli Manning tends to have his biggest games against the toughest opponents. The Jets’ pass defense will be his toughest opponent yet. He will need to be smart when throwing against a ball hawk like Revis, but Manning’s ability to find multiple receivers throughout the afternoon should make things easier for him.
The Jets’ defense is very good. Fortunately, the run defense is the only thing keeping them from being the very best.
At 16th in the NFL in run defense, the Jets have been better in the second half against the run, but they struggled in Week 13 against the Redskins’ Roy Helu (100 rushing yards, 4.3 yards per carry and a touchdown) and Week 15 against the Eagles’ LeSean McCoy (102 rushing yards, 5.7 yards per carry and three touchdowns).
The Giants enter Week 16 on their most successful stint on the ground all season long, averaging 4.4 yards per carry over the last three games. That success in the run game has enabled Eli Manning to open up with some time in the passing game, which helped Manning to lead the Giants over the Green Bay Packers in Week 13—only to have the defense give it away—and the Dallas Cowboys in Week 14 with three minutes to go.
With a stealthy pass defense on the Jets’ side, the Giants will likely go to the run more than they have in recent weeks. The Giants' backs—with the slow return of Ahmad Bradshaw from injury and the sudden breakout by Brandon Jacobs—will need to have their biggest game of the season for the Giants and should deliver.
The New York Giants might be thanking their lucky stars they are scheduled to play one of the less successful pass offenses in the NFL this season in the New York Jets. Sadly, two big games by Rex Grossman and the Redskins’ lacking pass attack has proven that it does not matter how statistically impressive a passing attack may be over an entire season, they can beat the Giants.
When the Giants look at the talent the Jets boast at the wide receiver and tight end positions, their concerns should grow even greater.
Santonio Holmes has always been a big-play threat and that will be even more likely against the NFL’s second-worst defense against pass plays 20 yards or more—the Giants have allowed 58 plays of 20 yards or more through the air this season.
Coupled with former Giants receiver Plaxico Burress, the duo of Holmes and Burress has accounted for 16 of quarterback Mark Sanchez’s 23 touchdowns. There is nothing Burress would love more than to embarrass his former team and Tom Coughlin with a big day inside MetLife Stadium.
Mark Sanchez is not the most accurate quarterback in the league—he has completed just 56.8 percent of his pass attempts—but he is very good at avoiding the costly mistake. The Giants will bring the pass rush in hopes of forcing him to do just that, but the Giants’ secondary has done a good job making even the most mediocre quarterbacks look like superstars.
The New York Jets are not well known for their offense, but if there is anything they are expected to do, it’s run the football. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case for most of this season.
The offensive struggles have forced the Jets to rely heavily on their defense, but the ground attack, and specifically third-year back Shonn Greene, have really been coming together in recent weeks.
The Giants' 22nd-ranked run defense could have a tall task on their hands, though, they have played better in recent weeks themselves—minus a 106-yard performance by the Cowboys’ Felix Jones. Whether that fact stands because of the abuse the Giants’ defense has faced through the air will likely be answered in their Week 16 matchup with the Jets.
Shonn Greene is averaging 4.2 yards per carry on the season behind an offensive line that has played well below expectations coming into the season. The Giants' defense will give the offensive line fits, but Greene should have a solid performance against a defense that surrenders 4.5 yards per carry to opposing running backs.
There might not be a more explosive kick returner in the league this season than Joe McKnight. The top vote-getter in Pro Bowl voting averages 37.3 yards for every return with one touchdown.
New York Giants fans know well about the failures their team has had in the past and should be fearful of some more in this matchup with the Jets.
Since Tom Coughlin was hired as head coach in 2004, the special teams unit has been one of the worst in the NFL nearly every season. They are not well known for big returns or anything worth gloating about coming into this game with an opponent who boasts a successful return game.
Neither team has a great kicker or punter, but when it comes to execution on special teams, the Jets are much better.
The New York Giants and New York Jets have the most vilified coaching staffs in the NFL. Perhaps it’s the New York media, but no one faces more scorn in the NFL than Tom Coughlin and Rex Ryan.
But rightfully so.
For all the talking Ryan likes to do, his team has yet to accomplish anything. He basks in the attention, but he refuses to realize none of it reflects positively on his team.
Coughlin is quite the opposite. He says little during the week and runs a tight ship in the locker room. Unfortunately, the Giants have a history of epic collapses in the second half, and this game with the Jets is lining up to be something catastrophic for the Giants organization.
While the Jets run a stellar defense and the Giants—though shaky at times—have one of the league’s top offenses, both teams have coordinators who have shown questionable tactics and have contributed greatly to their team’s struggles.
Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer are not the most popular coaches in New York. Both men have displayed poor schemes on their respective sides of the football and have earned themselves a spot on the hot seat.
How these coordinators’ units are able to perform will likely decide the outcome of this game. Unfortunately for both men, a victory is unlikely to save them from their impending doom in the offseason.
Perhaps the biggest thing hampering the New York Giants on defense this season is their inability to stop opposing offenses on third down. The Giants are tied as the eighth-worst defense on third down, allowing opposing offenses to convert on 41 percent of third downs.
In the Giants’ 23-10 loss to the Redskins in Week 15, the Giants allowed the Redskins to convert on 53 percent of their third-down opportunities.
The Giants want Eli Manning on the field as often as possible, commanding the offense and giving the Jets’ defense fits. For that to happen, the Giants must stop the Jets on third down and take the ball out of Mark Sanchez’s hands.
The New York Jets have won three of their last four by way of pounding the football. The Jets will need to take a different route—preferably through the air—in order to defeat the Giants in the “Battle for New York.”
The Giants’ struggles against the pass are well documented this season and will be targeted by Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. The size and speed of the Jets’ Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress must be taken advantage of, especially in the red zone.
Holmes and Burress’ combined 16 touchdown receptions imposes a serious threat to the Giants. The Big Blue defense has given up 25 touchdowns through the air—fourth-most in the NFL.
The New York Giants are on the ropes and another disappointing collapse appears imminent. Fortunately for the Giants, all the hype leading up to this game should have them up and ready to play this game.
Darrelle Revis and the New York Jets’ secondary will make things difficult for Eli Manning and the Giants’ offense, but Manning’s experience in tough games will give them the boost they need to overcome the adversity the Jets’ secondary poses. If Manning can get the Giants out to an early lead, the Jets will be forced to put the ball in Sanchez’s hands and I’m not sure the Jets really trust the third-year quarterback to shoulder the load in a game like this.
The Jets will put up a fight, but the Giants will finally win a game more handily than they have all season.
Giants 34, Jets 21