EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J –** The Giants and Jets, each fighting to secure a playoff berth in their respective conferences, will face each other for the 13th time in the regular season when they clash Sunday in MetLife Stadium.
Each team entered last weekend with a .500 record, but had far different results.
The Giants lost in Washington to fall to 5-6, while the Jets defeated Miami to improve to 6-5. But the Giants are tied with the Redskins for first place in the NFC East, while the Jets are four games behind New England in the AFC East race.
The Giants have won five consecutive games against the Jets and lead the series, 8-4. They last faced each other on Dec. 24, 2011, when Victor Cruz's 99-yard catch-and-run ignited the Giants' 29-14 victory.
NEW YORK JETS OFFENSE
The Jets are ranked 14th in the NFL in total yardage (356.6), but are seventh in scoring (24.7 points per game). They have scored 101 points in the first half and 161 in the second. The Jets are 14th in the league in rushing yardage (114.3 per game) and 20th in passing yardage (242.4). They lead the NFL in touchdown percentage inside the 20-yard line, scoring 73.0 percent of the time. The Jets have allowed just 14 sacks, tying them with Oakland for the league-low.
The Jets prefer to hand off to running back Chris Ivory (766 rushing yards and seven touchdowns) or have Ryan Fitzpatrick pass to wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker (who have combined for 122 receptions for 1,631 yards and 17 scores).
Fitzpatrick, obtained in an offseason trade with Houston, has been reunited with offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, who was his head coach in Buffalo. He has thrown 20 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions. The 11-year veteran threw for four scores last week vs. the Dolphins to become the first player in NFL history to throw at least four touchdown passes in a game for four different franchises (Buffalo, Tennessee, Houston and the Jets). Fitzpatrick had surgery on his left (non-throwing) thumb on Nov. 13 and is playing with a protective brace. Fitzpatrick stays in the pocket and has a quick release and above average arm strength. He has been sacked only 11 times, the lowest total among the league's regular starting quarterbacks. Fitzpatrick's backups are Geno Smith and rookie Bryce Petty.
The Jets are second in the NFL with 29 rushing attempts a game. Ivory, who is sixth in the league in yardage on the ground, is a physical and attacking first and second-down back with patience, cutback vision and burst. He is a reliable receiver and is a run-after-catch threat. Bilal Powell is a veteran third down back who runs hard with quick feet and good hands. Stevan Ridley, who tore two knee ligaments when he was with the Patriots last season, has had limited opportunities. Fullback Tommy Bohanon is a big, athletic blocker who takes good angles and has a natural feel for the position.
Marshall has emerged as Fitzpatrick's go-to receiver and is eighth in the NFL with 71 receptions, one less than Odell Beckham Jr. Marshall and Beckham have each scored nine touchdowns. Marshall has excellent strength at the line of scrimmage, is a powerful strider, and is physical at the breakpoint. He is adept at finding voids in zone defenses. Marshall has been targeted 117 times, 32 more than runner-up Decker. A big-bodied player who lines up inside and outside, Decker is smart, tough and competitive with good route-running skills. He has deceptive deep speed and strong hands. Quincy Enunwa has just 12 receptions but is an aggressive blocker at the point of attack or in pass protection. Rookie Devin Smith is a good athlete with the speed to get vertical. Jeremy Kerley is nifty working underneath routes and runs well after catching the ball. Kenbrell Thompkins has quickness in and out of his breaks and acceleration.
The Jets seldom target their tight ends in the passing game. Kellen Davis is a big-bodied player who can handle both move and lead blocking. Jeff Cumberland is a superior receiver who uses his quickness to get up the field.
Like the Giants, the Jets have had injury issues on the offensive line. Willie Colon, who started six games at right guard, was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury. Center Nick Mangold has had neck and hand injuries. Three-time Pro Bowl left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson has started all 151 regular-season and postseason games since he was the fourth overall selection of the 2006 NFL Draft. He is long, athletic and tough. James Carpenter has good snap quickness and a strong grab at left guard. Mangold, a six-time Pro Bowler, has exceptional football intelligence and a strong upper body, and uses his hands well. He moves well in pass protection. New right guard Brian Winters has impressive ability in the box area and as a puller, and is not afraid to brawl. At right tackle, Breno Giacomini is tall (6-7), tough and competitive. The reserves include Wesley Johnson, Brent Qvale, Dakota Dozier and Ben Ijalana.
NEW YORK JETS DEFENSE
New head coach Todd Bowles was a longtime NFL defensive assistant, and he has put together a unit that has been one of the NFL's best this season. The defense is No. 3 overall, allowing 323.9 yards a game, first against the run (84.4 per game) and 12th against the pass (239.5). The Jets allow the fewest first downs per game (17.5) and are ninth in scoring defense (20.7 points a game). Like their offensive counterparts, the defense has been the league's best in the red zone, allowing a touchdown on just 38.5 percent of opposing trips inside the 20-yard line. The Jets' 22 takeaways are the league's third-highest total (the Giants are second with 23).
Playmakers on Jets first-team offense, defense, and special teams, presented by Nike
The strength of Bowles' defense is the front, which is a strong, physical unit that forces opponents to work for every yard. Right end Muhammad Wilkerson has solid instincts, is strong vs. the run, and a productive pass rusher. He leads the Jets with 8.0 sacks, or 4.5 more than anyone else on the team. Sheldon Richardson missed the first four games while serving an NFL suspension, but has played well since his return. He displays very good hand use and pass rush strength. Nose tackle Damon Harrison is a big man (6-4, 350) who is a productive run defender and a powerful pass rusher. Leonard Williams, the team's first-round draft choice this year, has started all but one game. He has good athletic ability, strength and pass rush skills. Leger Douzable can play both end and tackle, and has good upfield and rush strength. Stephen Bowen is a strong, big-bodied player who contributes in goal line and heavy packages. Lorenzo Mauldin, Mike Catapano and Josh Martin complete the defensive line.
Middle linebacker David Harris leads the Jets with 90 tackles (64 solo). He quickly locates the ball, possesses lateral quickness and is a sure tackler. Demario Davis is a run-and-chase backer on the weak side, where he has speed, range and inserts quickly in the box. Harris and Davis seldom leave the field. Strongside backer Calvin Pace is still going strong at 35 and has 2.0 sacks and three passes defensed this season. Sub outside linebacker Erin Henderson provides some jolt on contact and as a blitzer. Trevor Reilly has good initial quickness and an upfield pass rush burst.
The Jets have a veteran secondary that puts persistent pressure on opposing receivers. Perennial Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis missed last week's game and has not practiced this week because of a concussion. If he can't play, the Revis-Beckham matchup so many fans want to see would be canceled. Antonio Cromartie does his best work as a press corner because he has the strength to jam and hold up wide receivers. Buster Skrine is the nickel back, though he has started five games. He is undersized but feisty, with excellent change of direction quickness. Skrine plays all coverages with quick recognition, anticipation and recovery speed. Handyman Marcus Williams is opportunistic in coverage and leads the team with five interceptions. He can play corner, safety and as the dime back. Safety Marcus Gilchrist has good speed and range, and is quick to turn and run on vertical routes. Calvin Pryor is a good closer to the line of scrimmage. The secondary reserves include former first-round draft choice Dee Milliner, Dexter McDougle and safety Dion Bailey.
NEW YORK JETS SPECIAL TEAMS
Kicker Nick Folk injured his quadriceps in warmups prior to the game against Jacksonville on Nov. 8, and was placed on injured reserve. He was replaced by Randy Bullock, who has made all three of his field goal attempts with the Jets. Although his numbers aren't exceptional, Ryan Quigley is an outstanding punter who can change the field with his long kicks. Eight different players have returned kickoffs for the Jets, because their top returner, Zac Stacy, is on injured reserve. Kerley has been the only punt returner and is averaging 9.3 yards on 38 runbacks. Henderson leads the team with 10 special teams tackles.