SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 1st. Save the date because we could be watching the first ever Subway Super Bowl.
Of course, things rarely go according to plan. Just ask the 18-1 New England Patriots. But, on current form, New York boasts the two best teams in football.
The 8-3 Jets have won five games in a row after ending the unbeaten record of the Tennessee Titans with an emphatic 34-13 victory. The 10-1 Giants are on a six-game winning streak after overcoming the Arizona Cardinals 37-29.
Big Apple football fans have never had it so good. But while the reigning Super Bowl champions have been good from day one, the transformation in the Jets has been nothing short of remarkable.
When they lost 16-13 in Oakland on October 19th, there were serious doubts being raised about the wisdom of acquiring legendary quarterback Brett Favre…and rightly so after he had thrown 11 interceptions in seven games.
Now, it seems Favre can do no wrong. He’s turned from gunslinger to sheriff, ensuring the gospel according to coach Eric Mangini is carried out to the letter of the law.
With the Jets successfully stopping the run, and running the ball themselves, there has been no need for Favre to take risks – and he’s been near perfect in orchestrating wins in New England and now Tennessee.
Linebacker David Bowens summed up the mood in the Gang Green camp. “I’ve never been on a team that has been on this kind of a roll. It’s euphoric. It’s like we have an attitude that it doesn’t matter who we’re playing.”
With home games against Denver, Buffalo and Miami, and road trips to struggling San Francisco and Seattle, it’s not inconceivable that the Jets could finish the regular season 13-3, which could well be good enough to win the AFC.
Giants and Jets on course to meet in Tampa
The Giants remain on course to win the NFC, although their run-in looks a lot tougher than the Jets. They still have to go to Washington, Dallas and Minnesota, with home games against Philadelphia and Carolina.
Mind you, no problem seems insurmountable for coach Tom Coughlin and his brilliant defensive coordinator Steve Spagnolo.
Many expected the Giants to struggle when Tiki Barber called it a day and Jeremy Shockey broke his leg. Then, when Michael Strahan retired and defensive end Osi Umenyiora injured his knee in a pre-season game, they were dismissed as realistic contenders to retain their title.
Yesterday, they returned to the University of Phoenix Stadium – scene of their Super Bowl XLII triumph ¬– to take on the high-flying Cardinals without star running back Brandon Jacobs and their best wide receiver, Plaxico Burress.
It made little or no difference. Such is the strength in depth on the Giants roster that Domenik Hixon, Burress’s replacement, made six catches, ran three kickoff returns for 180 yards and finished the game with 269 all-purpose yards.
Eli Manning completed 26 of 33 passes and, as Coughlin said afterwards: “He just continues to do whatever has to be done to win the game.”
Football is such a ferocious sport that it’s unwise to look any further ahead than next week. Injuries play a key part and you can be sure that Favre and Manning will now be marked men.
Let’s hope both teams stay healthy. Wouldn’t it be great if on February 1st, 2009, in Tampa Florida, the Jets made their first Super Bowl appearance for 40 years and the Giants their first for 12 months!