The 49th anniversary of anything — marriage, business, graduating class — is often worth celebrating, but how about two NFL teams meeting for the 49th consecutive summer? That's the Jets and Giants, the regional rivals and stadium co-tenants who first went at each other on Aug. 17. 1969, at Yale Bowl and thought it was such a good idea that they've done it every August (except once in early September) since.
This year's rivalry renewal buildup doesn't feel as fiery yet as in previous years, with each team tending to different issues in trying to get ready for the 2017 regular season. But we think things will heat up Saturday night sometime around their 7 p.m. ET kickoff at MetLife Stadium. Here are seven points to ponder on this year's meeting between the green and the blue teams:
1. On the LevelIt doesn't get much more even than the Jets-Giants rivalry has been over the last nearly half-century. Since 1969, the Jets maintain a 25-22-1 preseason edge on the Giants, but Big Blue has held the upper hand in the regular season, 8-5. Add them together and the teams are 30-30-1. And add all the points the sides have rung up in those games and the Jets have outscored the Giants by a field goal and a safety, 1,225 points to 1,220.
2. Road to Victory?The evenness of the rivalry has gotten stood on its head since 2010, when the teams first opened MetLife Stadium (nee New Meadowlands Stadium) to NFL football. The Jets and Giants have played each other nine times at their new home — seven times in the preseason, twice in the regular season — and the home team has lost all nine times. How is that possible? The Jets are 0-5 as the home side, the Giants 0-4, and the average score in those games is Away 26, Home 17. And Saturday it's the Giants' turn to host.
Best Shots from the Series Between the Big Apple Rivals
3. Reunited and It Feels So GoodHowever the Jets' QB rotation shakes out — head coach Todd Bowles again has kept his plans to himself — the signalcallers should benefit from the offense's 1-2 punch, as Matt Forte and Bilal Powell, both back from injuries, are expected to be reunited for the first time in a game since last Dec. 17 vs. Miami. Forté may not play much, said Bowles, but coordinator John Morton still might want to get an inkling, in this summer dress rehearsal, of what Forté-Powell, who combined to average 97 yards a game together last year, can provide to his unit.
4. Eli's ComingThere's no denying the accomplishments of Giants QB Eli Manning. But when it comes to this game, the Jets have given Eli as good as they've gotten. In the preseason, Manning's played 12 games (starting the last 11) with three TD passes to nine INTs and a 56.6 rating and has been sacked 12 times. The Giants' record in those dozen games: 5-7. The Jets' pass rush, one of the highlights of the attack so far with 11 sacks, will want to fine-tune some things for sure. "As a starting defense, we're not where we want to be," said DL Sheldon Richardson, who got his first pro sack by taking down Eli in the 2013 preseason, "but we're not too far off."
5. Tight ScheduleThe tight end may return to the Jets offense this season, but when is another matter. Austin Seferian-Jenkins will play vs. the Giants but will sit out a two-game suspension to start the regular season. Rookie Jordan Leggett (foot) won't play Saturday, nor will first-year man Jason Vander Laan (shoulder). That leaves a depth chart of Eric Tomlinson, Chris Gragg (signed July 28) and rookie Brandon Barnes (signed Wednesday). TE is a work in progress.
6. DBs vs. WRsBowles says in his secondary, "there's definitely competition there. Maybe not at the safety spot, but at the corner spot, there's competition." In theory that includes veteran Morris Claiborne (shoulder), who will be a gametime decision. But the Green & White may or may not face two Giants wideouts they're familiar with for different reasons. Odell Beckham Jr. suffered the ankle sprain heard 'round the NFL Monday night and ex-Jet Brandon Marshall injured his shoulder also against the Browns. Thursday, coach Ben McAdoo said it was "too early" to rule either out vs. the Jets.
7. Crossover AppealA few former Jets are viewing this summer series from Big Blue's locker room and sideline at MetLife. NT Damon Harrison got to the Giants a year ago. This offseason Marshall and QB Geno Smith made the move. K Mike Nugent is trying to close the circle on his NFL career with the Giants after kicking for the Jets from 2005-08. On the Jets, LB Spencer Paysinger played for the Jints from 2011-14 and WR Myles White appeared in 12 games for Big Blue in '15.