More than rivalry on the line for Giants, Jets
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. >> In recent years, a game between the Jets and Giants would be for the braggin' rights in the New York metropolitan area.
Little else was at stake for two bad teams.
Not this year. Not even close.
Sunday's game at co-owned and co-shared MetLife Stadium is about the prize that has eluded these teams for years. It's about making the playoffs .
The Jets (6-5) and Giants (5-6) enter December with legitimate chances to make the postseason. The Giants haven't been there since winning the Super Bowl after the 2011 season. The Jets last made it in 2010, going to the conference title game for the second straight year.
Tom Coughlin and the Giants are tied for the NFC East lead with Washington with five games left. Rookie coach Todd Bowles and the Jets are among five teams in the second flight of the AFC behind New England, Denver and Cincinnati.
"I think, yeah, it's a big game for both teams, and I think that's how we look at it," Giants quarterback Eli Manning said. "It's probably not as big of a rivalry as you think, we only play every four years. A lot of these guys have never played them. You see each other in preseason. So I think we're just worried about it's a game that's important for our season and the possible outcome ..."
Bowles doesn't remember the teams being big rivals when he was growing up in nearly Elizabeth, and he has a hard time seeing a rivalry now.
"I don't think it's a rivalry because you don't play them as much," he said. "They're not in the same division. You only play them once every (four) years. The fact that we're in the same city, same stadium makes it very interesting for the fan base, but other than that, no."
Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul insisted he didn't remember anything from 2011, the last time the teams met in the regular season.
"Honestly, it doesn't matter," Pierre-Paul said. "At this point, we're just trying to win the game, and go on to the next game, and win that one as well."
Neither team has been making much of a playoff run. The Giants have lost two in a row; while coming off a win over Miami, the Jets have dropped four of six.
Some things to watch for during Sunday's game:
MANNING-BECKHAM AIRWAYS: The Giants have turned to the pass with the running game struggling. Manning has thrown 176 times in the last four games — 64 percent of the offense — and targeted Odell Beckham Jr. 56 times, or roughly 32 percent. Beckham has 30 catches for 481 yards and five touchdowns. The other receivers don't get the ball much, with Rueben Randle and Dwayne Harris each being targeted 24 times, and tight end Will Tye 23. Combined they have five touchdown catches. The running game has 90 carries in that span for 314 yards — a 3.4 yard average — and no touchdowns.
STUFFED UP: The Jets held Miami to 12 yards rushing on nine attempts to set a franchise record for fewest yards allowed on the ground. They lead the NFL with 84.4 yards allowed per game, and opponents have been held under 100 yards six times this season.
That's all bad news for the Giants' banged-up offensive line. Right guard Geoff Schwartz is out for the season with a broken left leg. Center Weston Richburg (ankle) and left guard Justin Pugh (concussion) are close to returning. Right tackle Marshall Newhouse missed practice this week with a back ailment.
REVIS ISLAND CLOSED AGAIN?: Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis appears likely to sit out his second straight game with a concussion, meaning his showdown with Odell Beckham Jr. would have to wait until next preseason.
Revis was hurt at Houston on Nov. 22 and hadn't been practicing or even attending meetings.
His backup, Marcus Williams, is dealing with a sprained knee ligament and might also miss the game. That means coach Todd Bowles might have to mix and match at Revis' spot by using Buster Skrine, Darrin Walls, Dee Milliner and/or Dexter McDougle.
HURTING LINEBACKERS: Second-year linebacker Devon Kennard has been the Giants' best player on defense and he comes into the game battling a hamstring injury. If he can't go, the team will have a tough time stopping Chris Ivory, who leads the AFC with 766 yards rushing. Mark Herzlich would be the best choice against the run, while Jonathan Casillas is more mobile.
DOUBLE TROUBLE: The Jets' Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker have caught touchdown passes in the same game six times this season.
The duo has combined for 17 TDs — nine for Marshall and eight for Decker — the most by a pair of Jets receivers since Keyshawn Johnson (10) and Wayne Chrebet (eight) in 1998. Marshall's nine TDs are the most by a Jets receiver since Santana Moss had 10 in 2003. Marshall also needs just 69 yards receiving to reach 1,000 in a season for the eighth time in 10 years.
"Brandon is our go-to guy," quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. "He's a great playmaker. He seems to step up every time we need a play. His football IQ is so high, it's really helpful for a quarterback."
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