Well, of course not in the literal geographic sense of the word. Neither team plays in Tampa. But I’ve been waiting for an AFC team to emerge, and I’ve decided it’s the New York Jets.
I am not a drinker of the Favre kool-aid. I grew up a Lions fan. I enjoyed every game the Packers ever lost no matter who they were playing.
By contrast, I will cop to having a long-running long distance affair with Big Blue, sprung from the fact that any cool New Yorker I’ve ever known was a Giants fan and set in stone when my then 9-year old son watched his first whole football game with me as they vanquished the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. I started that game on the fence (having deep family roots in New England), but couldn’t help but get pulled in by his enthusiasm and my joy that he was finally having fun doing something that has brought me so much fun over the years: watching NFL football.
So that’s the background check. Now, on to the reasons:
The New York Football Giants:
Roster: Just look at the depth chart. It almost screams ‘SCOREBOARD!’ on its own. Three deep at running back (Jacobs/Ward/Bradshaw) for a backfield that leads the entire league in rushing. If Reuben Droughns weren’t hurt they’d have to pass a law. At least 4 deep at wide receiver (Burress/Hixon/Toomer/Smith). And again, if Mario Manningham remembers he’s a football player somewhere along the way, it only gets worse. The O-line and QB are one layer deep, but it’s a great first layer.
Cross over to defense and things don’t get any easier for the other guy. Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, Barry Cofield, and Fred Robbins have been terrorizing ‘cubes badly enough (30 sacks) that Aaron Ross, Corey Webster, Sam Madison, and maybe even R.W. McQuarters and Sammy Knight look like all-pros instead of journeymen. Add Kenny ‘the Beast’ Phillips, Antonio Pierce, and Danny Clark
And Jeff Feagles knows coffin corner better than the Crypt Keeper.
This team has almost as many first downs rushing as passing. This team averages 5.7 yards per offensive play. 5.2 yards per RUSHING play.
So far they are 3-0 in what some consider the toughest division in football. And, as befits a Super Bowl champion, they don’t play a team with a losing record over their last 7 games. If they’re still standing tall when that stretch is done, you too will believe!
New York Jets:
No, they don’t look nearly as good on paper. But check it out. They score almost 30 points per game while rushing for almost 125. On the defensive side of the ball, teams are only averaging 76.4 rushing yards per game against them. And the roster isn’t exactly full of schlubs: Thomas Jones and Leon Washington running the ball. Jerricho Cotchery and Laveranues Coles catching it. The relatively no-name defense, meanwhile, has even more sacks than the Giants.
The schedule has been more than a little soft so far. But they just beat New England on the road in OT and play Tennessee and Denver next. IF they win those two (and Tennessee’s on the road) the sledding gets pretty easy until a final-game home showdown against Miami.
Momentum anyone? It might be the second biggest factor in sports (trumped only by execution). So picture this. They win the division, get a first round bye, and are suddenly two games away with, yes, him, Brett Favre at quarterback. You telling me they CAN’T close that final gap if they get to that position? Maybe. But I won’t be betting against them.
God bless the NFL.