The New York Giants and New York Jets have been two of the most disappointing teams in the entire league this year. Both have struggled with inconsistent play, had bad losses (the Giants more so than the Jets) and both after starting the season strong are in danger of missing the playoffs. In fact, this Saturday day game could be the final straw for the losing team (though both technically could still be alive with a loss).
How did it come to this: for the Jets they have had a difficult time stopping opponets in critical moments and have seen their quarterback play (despite his decent numbers) been brutal for much of the season. For the Giants: They just can not stop Anyone with their defense.
Let’s break it down, as always I’ll look first and foremost at the young guys.
Jason Pierre Paul vs D’Brickshaw Ferguson
With the way that Justin Tuck is playing this year and how poorly Wayne Hunter has been, the Giants should line Jason Pierre Paul up at LDE and let him embarrass Wayne Hunter. But they won’t. They will play Tuck at LDE and Pierre Paul at RDE and hope he can consistently beat Ferguson one on one and probably help Hunter out on a sore Justin Tuck. Can Pierre Paul do it? He’s coming off a 16 tackle sack performance, after an 8 tackle, 2 sacks safety, FF, blocked field goal performance. He might be the hottest defensive end in the game right now.
Hakeem Nicks vs Revis
I have (seriously) been waiting for this matchup all year. I think Hakeem Nicks is one of the best wide receivers in the game (how insightful of me!). Revis is obviously the best cornerback. The Jets don’t rush the passer well without blitzing and the Jets won’t double cover Nicks if Revis has him. However, Eli Manning has some Brett Favre in him (both in the iron man way and the throw passes up to your play makers and hope for the best way). I’m certain Manning will let Nicks try to beat Revis over the top at least once on Saturday, can he?
Victor Cruz vs Antonio Cromartie
I’m guessing the Jets will go Revis on Nicks and Cromartie on Cruz (and not Manningham), which I think is a smarter move for the Jets. I really don’t think Cromartie would match up well with Manningham. Anyway, everyone knows that Cromartie is an aggressive corner-back, but people now realize too that Victor Cruz is an all around WR who makes catches under-neath, but will also do a double move and go deep. Can Cromartie stay disciplined. I’m betting that Cromartie either has a huge pick this weekend or let’s up a 65-70 yard touchdown (and maybe both!).
Muhammad Wilkerson against Kareem McKenzie
If I’m a Giants fan (and I am) this matchup scares the life out of me. Wilkerson has been pretty solid in his first year for the New York Jets and Mckenzie has been below average for much of the season. I don’t know if McKenzie can handle Wilkerson’s length and plus athletic ability and he could really cause a lot of trouble for the Giants.
Kyle Wilson vs Cruz Manningham
Wilson has played so much better this year than last year, but how will he hold up against Manningham or Cruz. I’ve already said I think it’d be a mistake for the Jets to line up Cromartie on Manningham, if that does happen that means Wilson will draw Cruz. I think Cruz is too strong and physical for Wilson, but Wilson has the athletic ability to bother Manningham. It’ll be interesting to watch what the Jets decide to do.
Is Prince Amukamara going to play this weekend?
Amukamara hasn’t had the best season-he was just benched in the second half of the last game after getting torched in the first half. A big part of the problem is all the time he missed, he is clearly out on the field thinking. But that can be said about every Giants defender who seems to have no idea what to do on defense. I can’t imagine the Giants won’t let Amukamara play again.
Linval Joseph against the Jets interior DL
I really think this is THE X factor for the Giants this weekend. Joseph has been solid this year, but hasn’t really been a play-maker. He pretty much has about three tackles per game every game and just clogs up the middle some. Well the Giants need much more from Joseph this Sunday against the Jets. The Jets want to be able to run the ball early and often against the Giants to open up the passing game and keep their pass rushers on their heels. That’s why it is absolutely essential that Joseph has a huge performance, like he did in Green Bay where he was all over the field (9 tackles and just an inspired performance over-all). A big performance could be the key to the Giants playoff hopes.
Other stories to watch:
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention these stories
Plaxico Buress against his former team.
Clearly Buress will want to have his best game of the season. The Giants can’t stop anyone. I’d say it’s more than a puncher’s chance that he has a big day.
Eli Manning in the 4th quarter
Eli Manning is tied for the most TD passes thrown in a season in the 4th quarter with 14 (more than half of all of his TD passes this year). That was true too before last week’s game. Can he break the record the next two weeks.
Giants vs December Swoon
Even if you’ve never watched football, you’ve probably heard this song and dance before.
Can the Jets safeties limit the big plays?
The thing the Giants do as well as any team in the league (and the only reason they are even competitive) is make big plays down the field. Last week Hakeem Nicks dropped a sure 60 yard touchdown pass and Victor Cruz lost another ball that could have been a 40 yard play. If the Giants connect on these kind of plays it could be a long day for the Jets.
When does the first fight breakout?
With how much Antrel Rolle, Brandon Jacobs, Rex Ryan, Bart Scott (and most other Jets) talk, there’s bound to be a skirmish sometime. How fast does it happen? Opening kick-off? Or will the Giants come out lifeless again.
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