Jets’ and Giants’ strong starts set up for the playoffs

Football fans in New York have gotten used to seeing the local teams fail to achieve success on the field. The New York Jets have missed the playoffs for the past 11 seasons, the longest playoff drought in the NFL. The New York Giants have made the playoffs only once over the past 10 seasons. In fact, the Jets and Giants both haven’t made the playoffs in the same year since 2006. However, with the way things are currently going, that might change.

Other than the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles, there isn’t a team in the entire league that has a better record than the 5-1 Giants. The games haven’t always been pretty, but at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is the win-loss column. Over the past two weeks, the Giants rallied from 14 points down to beat the Green Bay Packers and overcame a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Baltimore Ravens. The Giants defeating two respectable teams has grabbed the attention of the rest of the league.

Perhaps the two biggest reasons for the Giants’ 5-1 record are first-year head coach Brian Daboll and running back Saquon Barkley. Daboll was previously the offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills. In Buffalo, Daboll helped Bills quarterback, Josh Allen, develop into one of the best signal-callers in the entire league. The hope is that Daboll can do the same with Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, the sixth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

The New York Giants selected Barkley with the second overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. As a rookie, Barkley recorded over 2,000 yards from scrimmage and 15 touchdowns. However, things haven’t been the same for Barkley since then. In 2020, he suffered a season-ending torn ACL, which resulted in him only playing in two games that campaign. In 2021, his first season back from the gruesome injury, Barkley recorded 593 rushing yards on an underwhelming 3.7 yards per carry.

Despite all that, this season has been a completely different story for the former Penn State star. Barkley currently leads the NFL with 771 yards from scrimmage. If Barkley can keep playing at this level, the Giants will be a tough team to beat.

The Giants aren’t the only pleasantly surprising New York football team. With a 4-2 record, the Jets have already won as many games this season as last year. Due to a knee injury suffered in the preseason, second-year quarterback Zach Wilson missed the first three games of the year. The Jets went 1-2 in his absence but are 3-0 with the second-year quarterback at the helm.

Wilson isn’t the only young player on the Jets that has drawn excitement. Cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner and running back Breece Hall are two rookies who have shown moments of brilliance in their young careers. Gardner has allowed a 19.0 passer rating in single coverage this season, the best mark in the entire league. Hall, the first running back taken in this year’s draft, has recorded 318 yards from scrimmage over the past two weeks. The Jets could very well have both the offensive and defensive rookies of the year this season.

In week seven, the Jets are slated to face the 2-4 Denver Broncos and the Giants will face off against the 2-4 Jacksonville Jaguars. With these winnable games, both teams have a chance to continue to show the rest of the football world that their impressive starts aren’t just a flash in the pan.

Photo courtesy of All-Pro Reels, Wikipedia.