EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants and Jets each hope to reverse the course of disappointing seasons on their shared home field when they meet Sunday in MetLife Stadium. It is a Jets home game.
The Giants have lost five consecutive games and are 2-7, while the Jets have dropped three straight and are 1-7. The Giants lead the regular-season series, 8-5, including 5-1 as the visiting team. They last met on Dec. 6, 2015 when the Jets' 23-20 overtime victory ended the Giants' five-game winning streak in the series.
What is the Jets' biggest strength?
The Jets' poor record – and a front seven that has been depleted by injuries and the trade last week of Leonard Williams to the Giants - hasn't prevented them being one of the NFL's best run-stopping teams. The defense is allowing a league-best 3.1 yards-per-carry and has given up just 89.3 yards a game on the ground, the NFL's sixth-best figure. Dallas' Ezekiel Elliott, who ran for 105 yards on Oct. 13, is the only back to crack the 100-yard mark against the Jets. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams rotates nine defensive linemen, which gives them the flexibility to morph into different fronts. The Jets are particularly strong on first down, when 59.4% of opposing rushing attempts have gained two or fewer yards (including 16.3% that have lost yardage).
Which player is key to the Jets' offense?
Quarterback Sam Darnold. In the three games Darnold missed with mononucleosis, the Jets totaled 23 points and 495 yards. The four games since he returned included a victory against Dallas in which the offense gained a season-high 382 yards. Darnold has worked behind an offensive line that has been weakened by injuries, but when he plays well, the Jets normally follow his lead. He is strong in the pocket and has a good combination of athletic ability and arm strength. Darnold can make all the throws, keeps his eyes downfield and can extend plays with his legs.
What is the strength of the Jets' offense?
A versatile and complementary group of wide receivers. The Jets most often operate out of a three-wideout alignment to take advantage of the skills of Demaryius Thomas, Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder. At 6-3 and 225 pounds, Thomas, who was acquired in an early-season trade with New England, has the best size and is the strongest member of the group. He has strong hands and can post up defenders. Anderson is the unit's fastest contributor, a vertical threat who is averaging a team-high 14.9 yards a catch. Crowder, a 5-9 177-pounder, is an exceptionally quick and crafty route runner who makes his living underneath. He leads the Jets with 43 catches. Coach Adam Gase also likes to get running back Le'Veon Bell (415 rushing yards and 40 catches) involved in the passing game.
Which player is key to the Jets' defense?
Third-year strong safety Jamal Adams. The team's tackle leader with 52 (46 solo), Adams is a tone setter who typically lines up closer to the line of scrimmage but has the versatility to play all over the field. He is disruptive against both the run and pass (1.0 sack and five quarterback hits, plus an interception he returned 61 yards for a touchdown at New England). Adams possesses an excellent combination of athletic ability, instincts and competitiveness. He usually covers opposing tight ends.
What is the strength of the Jets' defense?
The line, which has been the key to the Jets' success in stopping the run despite numerous injuries at linebacker. The starting three are Henry Anderson, Steve McLendon and Quinnen Williams, the third overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft. They are quick and powerful players who can each line up at any of the three spots and are strong at the point of attack. The 6-3, 303-pound Williams is an impressive combination of size and length and has good foot speed. Anderson quickly diagnoses a play and has quickness as an edge pass rusher. McLendon is strong and smart.
Which player is key to the Jets' special teams?
The Jets are ranked last in the NFL in total yards (223.5) and passing yards (157.3) per game, so punter Lachlan Edwards has been busy. He has punted 50 times, tying him with Tennessee's Brett Kern for the NFL high. Fortunately for the Jets, Edwards is playing well. His 42.5-yard net average is tied for eighth in the league and is 46.8-yard gross average is 11th. But 30 of Edwards' punts have been returned, nine more than any other punter.
Based on the scouting report, what must the Giants do to win the game?
Attack the Jets' strength and find success running the ball. That will enable the Giants to utilize their play action game and minimize opportunities for the Jets' offensive playmakers. The Jets rely on stopping the run to force their opponents into passing situations, notably on third down. Defensively, the Giants must put the heat on Darnold. The Jets have allowed 37 sacks, the second-highest total in the NFL behind the Titans' 38, so the Giants will attempt to force their quarterback to have an unpleasant afternoon.
View rare photos from the local rivalry between the Giants and Jets as they prepare for the preseason opener.
Statistics you should know:
*In 13 regular-season games vs. the Giants, the Jets' longest play is a 39-yard touchdown pass from Richard Todd to Wesley Walker on Nov. 1, 1981. The second-longest is a 37-yard throw from Ken O'Brien to Walker on Dec. 2, 1984.
*Thomas, who played nine seasons in Denver, joins Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald as the only active wide receivers with 700+ catches (707), 9,000+ receiving yards (9,562) and 60+ touchdown catches (62).
*Anderson's 92-yard touchdown reception vs. Dallas was the second-longest play from scrimmage in Jets history, surpassed only by Walker's 96-yard score in 1985.
*Bell surpassed 8,000 yards from scrimmage in his first game with the Jets (Sept. 8 vs. Buffalo) and 63rd game of his career to become the fastest player in league history to surpass that milestone.
*The Jets' defense has surrendered just one first down on six opposing fourth down conversion attempts this season.
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