Shocking the world, the Jets and Giants are playoff contenders

Going into the 2021 NFL season, Giants fans were optimistic for the first time in years.  Saquon Barkley was coming back from a gruesome season-ending injury, and second-year head coach Joe Judge had gained the respect of all Giant fans after almost leading the G-Men to a playoff appearance the prior season.  Big free agent signings like Kenny Golladay and Adoree’ Jackson bolstered the already-promising roster and filled the biggest holes.  

Unfortunately, the season did not go as planned, ending at an embarrassing 4-13.  Owner John Mara was forced to clean house, replacing general manager Dave Gettleman and Judge with the likes of Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll.  

With a pitiful offense consisting of an injury-prone running back, overpaid wide receiver and questionable quarterback, expectations were minimal entering the 2022 season.  Yet, somehow, someway, the Giants have found themselves very much in playoff contention, going into week 10 with a 6-2 record.

Coach Brian Daboll has helped spark this turnaround for the Giants.  It also helps when they have some of their star players playing well.  Quarterback Daniel Jones is having the best season of his career, forcing the front office to reconsider his tenure.  

Jones has six passing touchdowns and only two interceptions this year through eight games, after having ten passing touchdowns and seven interceptions last year.  He also has over 300 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns this year.  

What doesn’t show up on the stat sheet is his leadership in crunch time, as Jones has led the team to several fourth-quarter comebacks.

 “I really enjoy watching this team play now, especially Daniel Jones who has a lot of potential.  Now that Jones has a competent coach building the offense around his strengths, he has thrived under center.  Hopefully he can continue to show why he deserves to be on the team next year,” said sophomore Ryan Baxter.  

Star running back Saquon Barkley has also started the season out strong.  Shrouded by health concerns, he seemed unlikely to many to return to his 2018 self.  Instead, he came back better than ever before.  

He currently has over 750 yards rushing and six touchdowns and just under 200 yards receiving.  Barkley has certainly been one of the major reasons that have contributed to the Giants’ success.  

“It’s good to finally see Saquon play well and help this team win.  When the opposing team has to respect the run game, that opens up so many more opportunities for the offense,” said junior Cooper Denninger.  

Looking ahead, the Giants have two tough matchups against the undefeated Eagles and another game against their division rival, the 6-2 Dallas Cowboys.  The Giants have the ability to make it into the playoffs even with this year’s competitive NFC East division.

The other New York team has found similar success so far this season.  On April 18, General Manager Joe Douglas of the New York Jets sat in his office in preparation for the NFL Draft.  With a lot of holes to fill in this young team, Douglas looked towards the cornerback position with pick number four, taking a chance on Cincinnati’s shut-down cornerback Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner.  

With a couple more first round picks, Douglas selected Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson and Florida State defensive edge Jermaine Johnson.  Fans were ecstatic to see the Jets trade up in the draft to select star running back Breece Hall early in the second round.  

The willingness to move up in the draft showed the front office’s belief in this year’s team, which is a new sensation for fans that are used to the “same old Jets” that seemed to be in a perpetual rebuild.

All of these picks have panned out exactly how Douglas envisioned.  The rookies have combined for a grand total of six of the eight Rookie of the Week awards, a testament to just how much they have contributed to the Jets early success.

However, they are only a piece of the puzzle, as the overall Jet defense has taken an unimaginable step forward.  Led by October’s AFC Defensive Player of the Month, Quinnen Williams, the defense has been the spark plug for this team.  

“The defense has really been the heart and soul of this Jets team.  If you go deep, Sauce Gardner is stationed exactly where you throw the ball.  If you run, Quinnen Williams and the underrated defensive line are there to ensure a minimal gain,” said senior Jack Bogensberger.  

This top tier defense takes a lot of pressure off second year quarterback Zach Wilson, who has struggled to find his rhythm in the early stages of his career.  However, against their divisional rival, the Buffalo Bills, the young quarterback redeemed himself with a season-high 101.1 passer rating along with a 72% completion percentage.  The young and determined Jets team has every tool to win in today’s league and time will tell if they are contenders or mere pretenders.  

Both New York football teams have heard enough of their past as underperforming and disappointing teams.  Whether either team has what it takes to make a championship run is questionable, but it’s without question that they have surpassed their expectations tenfold.  There is a bright future for America’s favorite sport in the Big Apple.