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Jets-Giants Game Preview | After a Deep Breath, Time to Step on the Gas

Green & White Searching for Third Consecutive Win; Local Bragging Rights at Stake


When the Jets resume action on Sunday against the Giants at MetLife Stadium, they'll need to find the gas pedal early after outside forces took HC Robert Saleh's club out of fifth gear and placed them in neutral for a week.

A Wild Six Weeks
The Jets went into the bye full of mojo, having reached .500 with a road disposal of the Broncos in Denver followed by a statement win over the Philadelphia Eagles at a rocking MetLife Stadium. But the NFL schedule forced a pause as the Jets, a club that moved to 3-3 with a thrilling 20-14 come-from-behind victory over the Eagles, had a week off.

"I felt like we needed it," Saleh said. "You always want your bye week later, but at the same time when you look at the schedule globally {you want to keep it day to day) ,we have a Sunday night game, we have a Monday night game, a Friday afternoon game, a Thursday game. We have a wonky schedule coming up with all these long weeks, short weeks.

"We needed this bye week to: One, Just get fresh for the second half of the season and, I think everyone needed to hit the pause button after just how wild this first six weeks was, the ridiculously emotional roller-coaster of Week 1, adjusting the offense on the fly and all the noise that surrounded this organization the first three weeks and now all the pats [on the back]. …. We just needed to sit back and take a deep breath and just have a weekend of watching other teams' play and hopefully we can attack the second half of the season."

The Jets experienced a season's worth of emotions in six games. The Aaron Rodgers Achilles tendon tear against the Bills in Week 1 felt like the end of that first roller-coaster ride, but hours later there was Xavier Gipson making history in overtime with a game-winning return for the ages. There was a Dallas domination in Week 2 followed by a painful loss to the Patriots in Week 3. At 1-2 and the season seemingly slipping away on a treacherous turn after the Chiefs had taken a 17-0 first-quarter lead in front of the nation, the Jets jumped back on the track and showed their mettle despite an agonizing 23-20 loss. With Denver feeling like a must win, the Jets responded in turn. And then there was the stunner of the Eagles as the Jets made Jalen Hurts —much like they had done with Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes — look rather average while amassing 4 takeaways and winning a 20-14 heart-stopper.

An Inspiring Group
After the win over the Eagles, an emotional Saleh brought his players in and told them how this group inspires him.

"The amount and love and appreciation each player has for one another, the position groups, the unit, the team," he said this week. "The offense supports the defense, and the defense supports the offense, the way they both support special teams, and the sacrifice they've made for one another. You don't do that unless you have an appreciation and love for your teammate. It is an inspiring group and how hard they work, how much they love this game, how they approach each day, how much energy they bring to the building. They're a great group."

The old axiom of accomplished HC Bill Parcells says: "You are what your record says you are." With 10 teams in the AFC with .500 records or better, including three clubs in the AFC East, the Jets', carrying a minus-6-point differential, record says average. But there is nothing average about their defense and special teams, units that fall into the very good to elite categories. Filling in for Rodgers, Zach Wilson continues to progress as evidenced by an improved completion percentage by almost 15% (52.4 to 67.3) and passer rating by more than 30 points (57.0 to 87.5) over the last three games compared to his first three contests. Plus, the rush attack has averaged 143.7 yards per game the past three Jets' games, which is the third-best mark in the NFL.

Self-Inflicted Wounds
While the Jets are excelling in several categories (39.2 penalty yds/g, third-fewest), second half/OT scoring differential (6.17, fourth), takeaways (13, T3), they have to start quicker and find answers on third down and inside the red zone.

"We sucked in the red zone and we sucked on third down," said OC Nathaniel Hackett of his unit's pre-bye struggles. "The biggest one has been self-inflicted wounds and it's not just one person — it's everybody has kind of taken turns. And for us, we have to settle down and everybody has to do their job and I think that was kind of the biggest one. It starts with me doing my job and then having all those guys be able to do all the little things and then those things will slowly come. There have been a lot of opportunities there for us and we just have to capitalize on them."

Starting with the Giants, the Jets' next three opponents (NYG, 2-5; Chargers, 2-4; and Raiders, 3-4), have a combined winning percentage of .350. The Giants will be a tough out as Wink Martindale's exotic blitz scheme will challenge Wilson and the Jets' protections. The Giants also have playmakers on offense, including RB Saquon Barkley and TE Darren Waller. While the Giants are getting healthier along the offensive line, the Jets could be aided by the returns of CBs Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed.

A Little Rivalry
The Jets are favored for the first time this season and with a win in Week 8, the Green & White will have consecutive seasons with at least one 3-plus winning streak for the first time since 2008-11.

"A couple of times in my career now, everything's been great up until the bye and then bye comes and you kind of lose the luster," said C Connor McGovern. "So, it's extremely important for everybody here. We have every goal that we started this season within front of us. The next opponent is the Giants, which like I said, they're a team on the rise. They're playing their best ball right now. So, it's definitely not an easy opponent by any means. They're going to give us their best and we're going to give them ours."

The Jets and the Giants share a metropolitan area and a stadium, but they've matched up only 14 times in regular-season play. With a third consecutive win in the series, the Jets would more importantly move to over .500 for the first time this season and jump into the fast lane in the AFC.

"It's a little rivalry in a sense, obviously it's not like the Patriots rivalry or something like that, but for bragging rights in New York City," said TE Tyler Conklin. "So, I think it definitely adds another element to the game."

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