I have been covering the National Football League as a journalist for nearly 20 years and have been in love with the sport as long as I can remember. In all of those years, I can’t recall a season where both New York football franchises have baffled beat writers and fans alike. Despite their rollercoaster seasons, the New York Jets and New York Giants are still in contention for playoff berths. However, if they do not get it together, those playoff aspirations will be nothing more than a pipe dream.
Before the season started, most NFL procrastinators thought that the Jets would end up being one of the worst teams in the league. By contrast, 10 games in, Gang Green would be in the playoffs if the
regular season ended today. The Jets are one of the biggest surprises of the 2013 campaign thus far and no matter how this season plays out, Rex Ryan’s crew has already exceeded most people’s expectations.
But that does not mean that we should chalk up this campaign as a success based on what has already transpired. The Jets are in a great position to make something out of this season where we thought that
they would be thinking about who they were going to select with next year’s number one pick versus jockeying for that final playoff spot.
Despite starting a rookie quarterback who has produced more turnovers than Pillsbury and suffering through a rash of injuries and suspensions, they can still put themselves in the postseason.
Signal caller Geno Smith has committed 20 total turnovers (16 interceptions and 4 lost fumbles) this season, including three interceptions and a lost fumble in Sunday’s 37-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills. He is a rookie and we anticipated some growing pains. However, he is going to have to cut down on these errors if the Jets are going anywhere this season. He also needs to stop making many mistaking if he is going to have a future in this league. Over 20 turnovers are not going to cut in the NFL, Not
The Jest lost running back Mike Goodson and wide receiver Clyde Gates for the season due to injuries. Hopefully they will get Jeremy Kerley back soon and Kellen Winslow (PED Suspension), Santonio Holmes (Injury) and Jeff Cumberland (Injury) also return, which should settle the offense and help Smith with his consistency.
Consistency has been Gang Green’s biggest problem. They win one then they turn around and lose the next game. Thank God that they have not had a losing streak, but they have not had a winning streak either. At the rate they are going to end up with an 8-8 record. Even in this parody-ridden era, that record will send you home after the holidays.
The Giants, on the other hand, have been a model of consistency. They lost their first six games of the season and have since won their last four. Now a 4-6 record normally will kill a team’s chances of making the post season, but in this year’s NFC East, they have a great chance of winning the division crown, surprisingly enough. Right now the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys are on top of the division at 5-5. The Giants play the Cowboys this weekend for a chance to tie them for the division and they already have the tie breaker against the Eagles.
Therefore, believe it or not, the Giants truly control their own destiny if they continue to cut down on their turnovers (two in the last two games) and get something out of their running game.
The running game will be the key for Big Blue. When they lost both David Wilson and Andre Brown, the Giants running game went south. Without the threat, nevertheless the production, of a running game, quarterback Eli Manning was rendered ineffective during that 0-6 start. Opposing defenses did not fear the Giants ground game and consequently Manning was forced to throw into defenses that were sitting back waiting for him.
Brown had a monster game last week in their 24-20 victory over the Oakland Raiders, where he ran for 115 yards. He also had a respectable 60 yards in Sunday’s 27-13 victory over the Green Bay Packers. Running backs Peyton Hillis and Brandon Jacobs were brought in as stop gap measures to fill in until Wilson and Brown returned. Wilson is gone for the season, so Brown will have to carry the load. The Giants have leaped into the top 10 in the league in rushing since Brown’s return. If the Giants are going to capture the division crown, Brown has to continue to produce at this rate, giving Manning and Giants more offensive options.
Let’s not pencil the Jets in the playoffs just yet. We had them there already after the victory over the New Orleans Saints two weeks ago. But if they can’t win two games in a row and Smith can’t cut down on the turnovers, it is going to be a long regular season and a short (if no) post season. It is hard to believe that the Giants are in a position to control their own playoff destiny, but they are. Let’s hope that they take advantage of the scenario before them.