The Jets (6-5) and Giants (5-6) have never been more similar, both in style of play and in the standings, with both teams firmly in the hunt for playoff seeds in their respective conferences. According to NFL.com, the Jets are currently projected to be the “first team out” of the playoff picture in the AFC. The Giants would also be on the outside looking in if the postseason began today as they’re projected to be the ninth best team in the NFC when all is said and done.
The same-stadium rivals meet this Sunday at MetLife with the Giants holding the alleged home field advantage (the G-Men are technical the “home team). It’s a monumental game for both teams in terms of their playoff prospects.
A look at which team has the better shot at making the postseason:
The case for the Jets
The Jets have a relatively easy schedule after the Giants game as their remaining opponents currently own a combined 20-24 record. Nothing is ever a cakewalk for the Jets, of course, but a home game against the 2-9 Titans on Dec. 13 and a road game against the 3-8 Cowboys the following week should keep New York in the hunt right through Christmas. Their final two games of the season could get tricky as they’ll host New England on Dec. 27 and will go on the road to face Rex Ryan’s Bills on Jan. 3. The Patriots will likely still be playing for the No. 1 overall seed two days after Christmas due to the fact that Denver now owns a tie-breaker with them. And the Bills should still be in the playoff chase come Week 17 as they play the Texans, Eagles, Redskins and Cowboys in December. Hardly a murder’s row. An even if Buffalo stumbles, you think Rex wouldn’t mind playing spoiler to the Jets?
Aside from the schedule, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick bounced back nicely from a pair of clunkers last week against Miami – throwing four touchdown passes without a pick. The Jets defense surely doesn’t look unstoppable anymore, as Darrelle Revis has proven to be mortal, but the Jets still have to be considered a stingy group. Since allowing 34 points to Oakland in Week 8, New York has allowed an average of 22.25 points per game. They also rank just behind Denver and Carolina on the year in yards per game (323.9).
The case for the Giants
The Giants schedule is decidedly tougher than the Jets’ down the stretch. The G-Men will be at the Dolphins (4-7) on Dec. 14, home against the currently unbeaten Panthers (11-0) on Dec. 20, at the division-leading Vikings (8-3) on Dec. 27 and home against the Eagles (4-7) on Jan. 3. That adds up to a 27-17 record for Giants opponents.
In the Giants’ favor is, of course, the fact that they play in one of the worst divisions in the history of pro football. But the division-leading Redskins play teams with a combined record of 20-35 down the stretch, so the G-Men may need some help at some point.
Eli Manning is coming off his worst game of the season – a three interception game against those Redskins– and hasn’t posted a passer rating of over 100.0 in a month. It’s possible he’s in the midst of a late-season swoon.
The defense has settled down since being blasted by the Saints in Week 8 as it has allowed an average of 21.3 points per game the past three weeks. But the Giants’ D still ranks dead last in the NFL in yards per game, giving up a whopping 419.6 per.
Due to an easier schedule down the stretch and the fact that they currently have six wins to the Giants’ five, the Jets have a slightly better shot at a playoff berth heading into Sunday’s showdown.