Friday, December 23, 2011
Manning, Giants look to go deep vs Jets
By Vince Masi and Katie Sharp
The 12th edition of the Battle for New York kicks off at 1 ET on Christmas Eve with both the New York Jets and New York Giants fighting for their postseason lives.
Will Eli Manning (left) or Mark Sanchez (right) be the King of New York this weekend?
The Jets hold the final AFC Wild Card spot, with four teams chasing them; the Giants are one game behind the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys, but control their own destiny for a division title and playoff berth.
Both teams are coming off disappointing Week 15 losses. Eli Manning had one his worst performances in a 13-point setback to the Washington Redskins. His 7.1 QBR tied for his worst since 2008, and it marked the first time he threw at least three interceptions, without throwing at least one touchdown pass in a game.
The Jets allowed the Philadelphia Eagles to take a 28-0 lead in the second quarter and gave up 420 yards in their 45-19 defeat. That was the second-most yards allowed by Jets defense this season. New York also matched a season high with four turnovers and converted just 3-of-13 third downs on offense.
Manning is enjoying a career season, having already set the single-season franchise record for passing yards. One reason for his success is his prolific downfield passing. Manning leads the NFL with 36 completions on throws of 21 yards or more downfield and is tied for the league lead with 10 touchdowns on such throws.
Manning will face perhaps his stiffest challenge of the season this Saturday.
The Jets have given up the lowest completion percentage on throws of more than 20 yards downfield in each of the last three seasons, and have allowed the second-lowest Total QBR on such throws this year.
The Giants have been riddled by injuries this year. According to Football Outsiders, the Giants have an NFL-high 85.2 adjusted games lost from starters and important situational players (adjusted games lost combines games missed with a value for players who are on the NFL’s injury report and thus deemed to be playing at less than full strength).
The most critical player missing from the field this weekend could be tight end Jake Ballard, who injured his knee last week. Ballard leads all NFL tight ends with an average of 15.9 yards per reception, and his 604 receiving yards rank third on the team.
The Jets have really struggled this year to defend tight ends. They have allowed the most receiving yards and the fourth-highest yards per catch average in the NFL. Last week the Eagles tight ends torched the Jets for 176 yards on eight catches, including one touchdown.
But with Ballard on the sideline, it will be tough for the Giants to exploit this weakness. Bear Pascoe and Travis Beckum have combined to catch just 13 passes for 202 yards this season, and each has not been targeted more than three times in any game.
• The Jets are 8-6 and a win will assure them of a fourth straight winning season, which would be the longest streak in team history.
• The Giants have won five straight games against the AFC, their longest such streak since winning six in a row from 1989-90.