Playmakers on Jets first-team offense, defense, and special teams, presented by Nike
It's December in the NFL.
With five games remaining, teams are scratching and clawing to either stay in or get into the playoff picture before time runs out. The Giants, who bookended their bye week with losses and dropped to 5-6, will "host" the 6-5 Jets this Sunday at MetLife Stadium. The Week 13 matchup between the inhabitants of MetLife Stadium features two clubs trying to keep their postseason hopes alive.
"The motto is: you only remember what you do in December," Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said this week. "So that's true. Every game counts. How I feel is we should win every game. We have the talent to do it, and we just have to put it together. We can't come out and start how we started last week or whatever. We're out here working hard as a team and we're going to get it right."
Leading up to the latest installment of Giants vs. Jets, here are three keys for Big Blue to get to 6-6:
1. WIN THE TURNOVER BATTLE
The Giants entered last week tied for first in the NFL in turnover differential but dropped after turning the ball over three times against the Redskins. They also didn't force any turnovers on defense for just the third time this year. However, they still remain third in the league with a plus-10 differential and second in takeaways with 23. The Jets are close behind with 22 forced turnovers and a plus-four differential. In their six wins, the Jets turned the ball over six times on offense. In their five losses? Twelve times.
"Ball security is a huge, huge issue," coach Tom Coughlin said Thursday. "I don't care what team you pick in the league, look down through the Jets schedule and season, when they've done well with the turnovers, they've won. And the games they haven't, they've lost."
2. PROTECT ELI MANNING
It's no longer Rex Ryan's team, but much of the Jets' defense remained the same. First-year head coach Todd Bowles, who like Ryan was a defensive coordinator before getting the job, has the No. 3 overall defense in yards. The Jets often force opponents to abandon the run due to their No. 1 rushing defense, which adds up to a tough test for a Giants offensive line that is being shuffled this week. Guard Geoff Schwartz was placed on injured reserve with a fractured lower leg, and right tackle Marshall Newhouse has been unable to practice this week with a back injury. Meanwhile, the Giants will await the progress of center Weston Richburg (ankle) and left guard Justin Pugh (concussion), who both missed last week's game.
"You keep working, that's what you do," Coughlin said. "You keep working, you keep fighting, you keep scrambling, you keep battling. Maybe you get a couple of guys back, or at least one back. The other guys are going to have to keep playing and do a good job for us, that's all there is to it. This is our team, these are our guys. We had, unfortunately, at a key time of the year, some of these people were not able to play up front and I'm sure they felt very badly about that, but we have to go on. We did go on and the result wasn't very good, but nevertheless you have to keep fighting."
3. CONVERT IN THE RED ZONE
The Giants will try to turn around their struggles in the red zone against the best defense from inside the 20-yard line. The Jets have allowed 94 points in the red zone, which are the fewest in a league that averages 165. They are also No. 1 in red-zone touchdown efficiency, allowing opponents to find the end zone on just 38.5 percent of their trips. The Jets' offense doesn't blink in the red zone, either, as it ranks first in touchdown efficiency at 73.0 percent. Meanwhile, the Giants are tied for 28th in red-zone touchdown efficiency (43.2 percent) and have turned the ball over five times inside the 20-yard line, including Manning's interception in the end zone last week.
"They're good against the run down there, not letting teams run the ball in," Manning said of the Jets. "They do a good job of taking away the playmakers, so we got to have a great plan and execute it. But that will obviously be a big part of the game plan."