The New York Giants (7-7) clash with the New York Jets (8-6) as the two teams engage in a must-win situation this afternoon, with neither team assured of a spot in this year’s playoffs. While the Jets control their destiny on top of the AFC Wild Card picture as they currently sitting in the sixth and final playoff spot with a tie-breaker over the similarly 8-6 Cincinnati Bengals, the New York Giants look to overcome their recent string of poor form in order to find a way to squeak into the NFC playoff picture, which finds 4 teams deadlocked at 7-7 and the Giants sitting on the outside should Chicago and/or Seattle win games this weekend.
The New York Giants first and foremost have had one of the more frustrating seasons in recent memory. Despite having outstanding play from Eli Manning (4362 yards, 25 TDs, 15 INTs), the Giants defense has been the broken link in the chain that keeps them from getting to the next level. While even the league’s worst run offense (sledding for just 3.4 yards/game, still dead last at 86.1 yards/contest) has improved markedly after the return of Ahmad Bradshaw alongside Brandon Jacobs (going for 5.2 yards/carry over the last two contests), the Giants defense has been unable to pull itself together, ranking 29th against the pass (allowing 257.5 yards/game) and 22nd against the rush (giving up 127.6 yards/game). While Eli Manning has been one of the best closers in the game, even he hasn’t been able to stop the Giants from dropping 5 games out of their last six, with the most recent loss against the Washington Redskins at home being the final embarrassing straw to an up-and-down season. For the Giants to find success against a very good Jets defense and a team that has won 3 of 4 despite also losing their last outing (blown out by Philadelphia, 45-19), they simply have to find a way to get at Jets’ QB Mark Sanchez, starting with Jason-Pierre Paul (13.5 sacks), and keep NYJ from converting on third downs, something the Giants have struggled with mightily this season (allowing teams to convert 54 percent of the time on 3rd down plays).
On the New York Jets side of the ball, it’s all about the defense living up to their hype and limiting the amount of damage Eli Manning can do downfield to his flock of talented receivers including Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. The Giants are a bit depleted due to injury, missing tight end Jake Ballard and WR Mario Manningham for today’s contest, which will put even more pressure on Cruz and Nicks to perform in the face of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, two of the best shutdown cornerbacks in the league. The Giants receivers simply have to find a way to win the vertical passing game, and avoid costly drops which have plagued them in recent weeks, but would also benefit from the Giants getting the ground game moving. That is a tough assignment for both Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs today, but given their recent improved form, expect the Giants to run the ball often to try and take pressure off the passing game, so that Eli Manning will have more open looks downfield. However, with the Giants and Manning enjoying long pass plays downfield (Manning leads the lead with 36 pass completions of more than 21 yards) but facing a team that excels most in defending the downfield area, we could see many more dink-and-dunk type plays to Ahmad Bradshaw in the flats, as well as to fill-in tight ends Bear Pascoe and Travis Beckum, noting that the Jets rank just 27th against opposing tight ends this year.
For the New York Jets to win, they have to have Mark Sanchez playing a full four quarters of football, something he’s struggled to do this season. Despite being a great closer like Manning, Sanchez is prone to make stupid mistakes that cost his team momentum, and ends up putting more pressure on the Jets’ defense to try and control the game. Taking advantage of the Giants’ poor secondary is paramount to the Jets’ success tonight, and that may also start with getting the ground game going and forcing the Giants to bite on Shonn Green (225 carries, 941 yards, 6 TDs) and cover LaDanian Tomlinson out in the flats. If the Jets can establish the run against a susceptible Giants defense that excels mainly in the pass rush, this could open the game up downfield to former Giant Plaxico Burress and the speedy Santonio Holmes, both of whom should be targeted frequently and from early on in the game. At 6’5″, Burress should be a match-up nightmare for the struggling Giants’ secondary, and putting the ball his way on many occasions will undoubtedly help open up deep strikes to the quicker Holmes. While Burress hasn’t been utilized much lately (just 12 catches in his last 3 games played), the Jets would do well to pick this game as one in which Plax sees a lot more targets vs. a defensive scheme he should remember well. Also expect plenty of activity from tight end Dustin Keller, who leads the Jets with 50 catches and 693 yards receiving, and should see more work as the Jets dump off to him for short yardage in the face of a good Giants pass rush. If the Jets can avoid costly Sanchez mistakes, keep the Giants weakened backfield guessing and throw with success downfield, this game should be theirs for the taking considering the Jets defense will be more than ready for a Manning challenge today.
Betting Lines for New York Giants vs. New York Jets
Sportsbetting Sportsbook is our featured online sports betting destination of the day, and for today’s wager on this crucial New York match-up, find all the best betting lines at this top sportsbook in just a few clicks of a mouse button. The Jets enter this afternoon’s game as a slight favorite, getting -135 odds on the money line, while the Giants are at +115 odds to win straight up. With just 3 points against the spread, a good look jumps out for Jets pickers taking them to cover -3 points, at favorable +110 odds. With the Giants at +3 points at -110 odds, the best pick for those backing the G-men looks to be a straight up wager on the money line, which features much better odds. Lastly, the over/under on today’s battle for New York finds the marker set at 46 points, which could be vulnerable considering the desperation both teams have in this game, combined with a shaky Giants defense and a good quarterback in Eli Manning able to score quickly late in games. Though the first half should be much slower going, with the game opening up later on look for a busted over total points wager to be well worth pursuing.
Our Pick to Win:
Though the Giants could very well find a way to win behind a better quarterback in Eli Manning, defense wins ballgames in match-ups like these, and the Jets are far and away a superior defensive team, especially when considering the opponent’s offensive strengths. While the Giants will find some success in the pass game, ultimately the Jets will focus on preventing the run, locking down Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks with single coverage, and keep Manning frustrated in the pocket by dialing up plenty of pass-rush plays. The only crutch for the Jets lies with Mark Sanchez, who can win or lose ballgames depending on his mistakes or relative lack thereof. In a big game with everything on the line though, I think we see Sanchez step up and be a gamer, carrying his team past the Giants this afternoon. Jets prevail over the Giants in a great contest that goes down to the wire, 28-24.