Six weeks into the season, the New York Giants sit second to the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East with five wins and one loss. The New York Jets also claim the second-place spot in their division, the AFC East, only trailing the Super Bowl favorite Buffalo Bills. When the season began, the expectations for New York football were astronomically low. No one predicted that through six weeks both teams would have reached their win total from the 2021 season, in which both teams finished four and thirteen. What is causing such a drastic change in New York?
This offseason, the Giants brought in an entirely new coaching staff, headed by former Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. Daboll made his statement that he is changing the culture in New York right away, going for a two-point conversion for the win instead of sending the game to overtime in their Week One victory over the Titans. Since then, Daboll has had this team playing with confidence and energy week in and week out.
Secondly, Saquon Barkley is healthy. Barkley has struggled with numerous non-contact injuries since his sophomore season in the league which has halted what many thought would be a Hall of Fame career. This season, Barkley is first in the league in rushing attempts and all-purpose yards, and he is second in rushing yards. Barkley was crucial in their Week Six 24-20 victory over the Baltimore Ravens, a challenge meant to test the authenticity of their winning ways. Down by 10 in the fourth quarter, New York relied on Barkley for eight of their final 15 plays. Barkley would assist in driving the Giants down the field to cut the lead to three and, with a minute left, would rush for the game-winning touchdown.
However, Barkley would not have had the opportunity to win the game if it weren’t for the Giants’ lockdown defense. This season, no team has scored more than 23 points against the G-Men. In the 2021 season, New York allowed this number or higher to eight of their opponents. Against Baltimore, Julian Love intercepted Lamar Jackson to set up the first Giants fourth-quarter touchdown. The second touchdown came off the back of a fumble from Jackson, forced by rookie first-round pick Kayvon Thibodeaux. While Love’s interception was only the first for the New York defense this season, the Giants lead the league in fumble recoveries, are third in third-down conversion percentage and are fifth in passing yards allowed.
With their upcoming strength of schedule lacking with matchups against the Jaguars, Seahawks, Texans and Lions, Big Blue could be on their way to a 9-1 start.
JETS! JETS! JETS! The Jets began the season 1-2 with 37-year-old veteran quarterback Joe Flacco behind center. It would have been three losses if not for one of the most exciting comebacks we’ve seen in recent history in Week Two when New York scored two touchdowns within a minute and 22 seconds. Sophomore quarterback Zach Wilson returned in Week Four, and the Jets are unbeaten since, earning them the title of a “Top 5” team from ESPN analyst and personality Stephen A. Smith.
The Jets attack is very similar to their New York counterpart: running the ball and letting the defense do its job. During their three-game winning streak, New York has not allowed over 20 points while allowing their rookie running back Breece Hall to display his talents. Hall had six attempts, seven attempts and eight attempts in his three games alongside Flacco, rushing for 50 yards or less in each contest. Hall since joining Wilson has 17, 18 and 20 attempts, rushing for 66, 97 and 116 yards respectively. Hall along with rookie “Sauce” Gardner seem to be bringing the energy this team has been lacking.
Gardner, after giving the second loss to the Packers this season to a New York team in as many weeks, was seen sporting a “CheeseHead” hat after the victory in Lambeau Field. New York’s best receiver from yesteryear Elijah Moore has not had the opportunity to join in on the celebration, as his opportunities have decreased excessively, urging him to request a trade this week. The Jets do not plan to move him before the Nov. 1. deadline. We will see going forward if this drama affects the momentum in New York.
The Giants haven’t been to the playoffs since 2011, the Jets since 2010. This year both fan bases could have their wishes granted as New York is taking over the NFL.
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