A few weeks ago, Sunday’s Jets-Giants’ game would have been meaningless.
In the past two weeks, the 1 p.m. kickoff at MetLife certainly has gained more juice. Ironically, it now looms as a pivotal game for both teams. What a difference a few weeks can make.
For the time being, expectations for both teams are back in focus, even though the reality of it might still be a little blurry. There are a few “what if” scenarios gaining some momentum.
Will it be as intense as some of the old rivalry games of the past? Likely not, but..who knows? This could turn into a barnburner with both teams finding their niche.
My two favorite games are the one in the Yale Bowl in 1974 when Joe Namath’s bootleg TD run tid the game , and then he hit Emerson Boozer with a touchdown pass in the league’s inaugural overtime game.
There also was the Christmas Eve game in 2011 when tensions were high before the game due to Rex Ryan’s comments and the Jets blacking out the Giants’ Super Bowl logo in the locker room areas. The highlight of the game was Victor Cruz’s 99-yard touchdown pass that eventually led to a Giants’ win.
Suddenly, this has all the makings of another good matchup. More importantly, meaningful football is back in the picture.
The Jets enter the game off a bye week after their defense played as a premier unit in their upset victory over the Eagles. Of course, some of the Eagles’ late, bonehead play calling with a lead helped Gang Green’s effort.
The Giants’ defense also rose to the occasion, shutting down the Bills and losing a game they should have probably won due to a bad call. They then bounced back and finally stifled a stubborn Commanders’ team, doing enough on both sides of the ball.
Gang Green has lost their last seven games off a bye, and they can’t afford a letdown. At 3-3, the Jets are still in the playoff hunt, and Zach Wilson looks more confident with a steady running game behind Breece Hall.
For the Jets, though, this is still about defense. C.J. Mosley and his troops need to clamp down on backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor and Saquon Barkley, who has looked like his rookie season in recent weeks. Taylor still endured some heat from the offensive line, as he was sacked four times.
Wink Martindale’s schemes have worked in their past two weeks. Last week, they recorded six sacks against Washinton’s Sam Howell and allowed just 76 yards rushing.
It looks like this will come down to a battle of running backs between Hall and Barkley, seeing who can have the breakaway bursts needed. Both teams also have clutch kickers in the Jets’ Greg Zuerlein and the Giants’ Graham Gano.
The line fittingly favors the Jets with a +3, and most oddsmakers see a low-scoring game with a combined score under 40. The Jets have scored more than 20 points only once this season, and the Giants have averaged 10.5 over their last five.
Dare we say playoffs? The 3-3 Jets have the Chargers, Raiders, Bills, Dolphins, Falcons, and Texans over their next six, while the 2-5 Giants have the Raiders, Cowboys, Commanders, Patriots, Packers, and Saints during the same span. A win here for either team can be a springboard.
Whatever the outcome, it should be a sign that meaningful football is back in the Big Apple.