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JETS-GIANTS PREVIEW
By Bob Bonett
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
October 5th, 2007
Giants DE Osi Umeniora sacks QB Chad Pennington during the team's pre-season matchup in August. The Giants had 12 sacks against the Eagles last week. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Giants DE Osi Umeniora sacks QB Chad Pennington during the team's pre-season matchup in August. The Giants had 12 sacks against the Eagles last week. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
There are no givens on the football field. Last week proved that to Gang Green and its fans. A week removed from the team’s first victory, many outlets took it as a foregone conclusion that the Jets would run over the Bills and cruise to even their mark overall at 2-2.

Yet, when QB Chad Pennington threw the decisive interception that inevitably handed Buffalo the win, the winless Bills had come away with the upset victory.

A week later, the tables have turned. Faced against their intra-stadium rivals, the New York Giants, coach Eric Mangini and the Jets are heavy underdogs, not given much of a shot to come away with the rivalry victory.

To make matters worse, the G-Men are on Cloud Nine after rolling over the Philadelphia Eagles, highlighted by 12 sacks, six by DE Osi Umenyiora.

Adding to the problems expected to be faced by New York lies in the running game. When countered with on of the league’s worst run defenses, RBs Thomas Jones and Leon Washington were completely stymied, unable to get the ball moving on the ground and shift the momentum in the Jets’ direction. Not surprisingly, the Giants also excel in defending the rush, allowing approximately 105 yards per game by the ground.

With all of the cards stacked against them, though, the Jets are in the same situation as Buffalo was in last week, and nothing is a foregone conclusion. Thus, don’t expect the Jets to be pressing because they are not favored.

“I think offensively and defensively, [you have to take advantage] of the things that [the opposing team] is presenting, the opportunities you have,” Mangini said. “When you get into a situation where you are going to force something for the sake of forcing something, usually that creates more negative plays than it does positive plays.”

The main task at hand for Gang Green will be avoiding what is seemingly an insurmountable obstacle, the threat of falling to 1-4 overall. In an AFC where 11 wins could conceivably be the cutoff the make the playoffs, the prospects of finishing 10-1 with road games that include the Bengals, Patriots and Cowboys on the schedule would be much more than just an arduous task.

Jets players will refuse to even entertain the notion that the game is a must-win contest, though.

“What we’re really trying to do is just focus on the day-to-day thing,” WR Jerricho Cotchery said. “If you have a plan and you believe in the plan, what you want to do is work on that plan every day and just turn things around, and that’s what we’re trying to do right now.”

Whether or not treating this game like any other game is a good idea or not is obviously yet to be seen. Entering a home stadium, though, that will be filled with the opposing team’s colors, treated as a heavy underdog, should undoubtedly fire some Jets up more than usual, though.

“You see the intensity on the field,” LB Jonathan Vilma said. “We definitely [haven’t] lost any games out of lack of effort on the field.”

“You’re going to see a very exciting game, a very intense game, and we’re going to have a lot of fun with it,” Vilma added.

Football may be filled with clichés, from the idea that no game is must-win, to the notion that the underdog always has an inherent advantage and beyond. However, the Jets crew can draw some serious motivation from all of the sports clichés for the upcoming game with the Giants.

A rivalry game played on the road with the season being treated like a lost one sets up perfectly for a surprising Jets victory. Thus, Sunday, when the Battle for New York is set to begin, no assumptions should be made, because the rules of what is supposed to happen in football are meant to be broken.

Keys to Victory

Offense

New York needs to get into a groove and set the pass up with an effective rushing attack. The Giants will threaten to have four quick defensive ends on the field at all times to put consistent pressure on QB Chad Pennington. If Jones can pound the ball up the middle for five yards per carry, and Washington can run laterally and force DE Michael Strahan and Umenyiora to play on their feet, it may enable Pennington extra time in the pocket to find the open receiver when pass is the option.

Defense

For the Jets to win, they need to contain TE Jeremy Shockey. From most facets of the game, it is already clear-cut what the Giants want to do, and will do. RBs Derrick Ward and Brandon Jacobs are two power backs that will wear down a defensive line, WR Plaxico Burress is always an endzone threat, and QB Eli Manning will call a decent game. If New York can slow the Giants clicking point, which is the momentum built from getting the ball to Shockey, they could disrupt the entire flow of the offense.

Special Teams

This could be the most key area for the Jets. Their kick coverage has been sub-par this year, which Mangini has called an aberration due to the year K Mike Nugent has had with his strength on kickoffs. Meanwhile, their kick return units have excelled at times, and looked paltry at others. If Washington can consistently bring back kicks to the 30 or 35-yard-line, setting Pennington up with good field position, and the Jets can keep the Giants kick returners at bay, it will set up a much easier day for both the offense and defense when they get on to the field.

Injury Report

New York Jets

Full participation in practice

FB Darian Barnes (shoulder), CB David Barrett (thigh), LB David Bowens (hand), WR Jerricho Cotchery (shoulder), RB Thomas Jones (calf), TE Joe Kowalewski (shoulder), G Brandon Moore (shoulder)

Limited participation in practice

CB Andre Dyson (foot), QB Chad Pennington (ankle), DT Dewayne Robertson (knee), S Eric Smith (thigh)

Did not participate in practice

S Erik Coleman (concussion)

New York Giants

Full participation in practice

RB Brandon Jacobs (knee)

Limited participation in practice

DE Michael Strahan (knee), S Gibril Wilson (hip), G Chris Snee (knee), RB Derrick Ward (ankle)

Did not participate in practice

WR Plaxico Burress (ankle), DE Osi Umenyiora (knee)

Out

WR Steve Smith (scapula)

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