New York Post

Critical time for Giants and Jets

- Mike Vaccaro

WE hear an awful lot about how important New York City is. Much of the time, that opinion comes from ourselves, because we absolutely believe that New York City is important, especially when it comes to profession­al sports. But it isn’t only us.

Ask the flyover states. Ask the folks on the other coast. New York is the big, bad

wolf. If only Player X played in New York, they lament, he’d be an AllStar. If poor Player Y had played in New York his whole career, they

moan, he’d be a firstballo­t HallofFame­r.

Such belief goes a long way toward feeding our egos. But lately, you have to wonder … Sunday, for instance. The Giants are 55, which screams “MEDIOCRITY!” from the highest floors of the Empire State Building. They have behaved in fourth quarters this year as recklessly as Johnny Manziel after hours. There are times when they look incapable of stopping a paper cut, let alone a profession­al offense …

… and yet they are in about as good a position as you could possibly be with six weeks left in the season. The rest of the NFC East is as soft as a Ramada mattress — and looks to be getting worse. They play the Redskins on Sunday, and if they win it becomes all but impossible to craft a scenario where they can’t win the NFC East — and if any team has proven the ifyou’re in it you canwin it mantra of the NFL playoffs, it’s the Giants.

The Jets are 55. If you’d like, you could scale the top of Freedom Tower to find even higher ground from which to shout “MEDIOCRITY!” They were 41 in their first five games, and have been 14 in their last five, and that is a disagreeab­le trend line no matter which way you spin it. There are times when you’d swear running the Fumbleroos­ki every play would double their rushing output …

… and yet they are tied with the Bills, the Texans and the Chiefs for the final wildcard slot in the AFC, and they sit a game behind the Steelers for the top wild card. If they could ever resummon the magic of those first five games across the last six, they could still make a legitimate playoff run. And even if Rex Ryan is gone, there are still plenty of players who remain who won four road playoff games not so long ago.

In other words: both teams are very much alive. Both teams play games on Sunday that could be critical to their postseason fates (although the Giants, in this crazy season, probably could find a way to lose this and many others and finish 610 and STILL win their division going away) ...

And both teams play at 1 p.m.

Time was, the NFL would sooner admit it has a concussion problem than schedule the two New York teams against each other. It happened in 1984. It didn’t happen again until 2009, and then it was the Jets requesting that kickoff be moved out of respect to fans who wanted to celebrate Yom Kippur that night.

It’s happened more frequently in recent years, always because the two New York seasons have been irretrieva­bly lost. The last three years, with neither team in play for a playoff berth, they both played 1 p.m. games in Week 17, and since by that point everyone was just eager to have the season end, there was little backlash. It also happened in Week 14 last year, by which point the Jets’ record was 210 and the Giants 39. Did anyone even notice?

Now, this might not be a cataclysmi­c issue for you: If you’re a Giants fan, you’ll watch GiantsReds­kins. If you’re a Jets fan, you’ll be all over JetsDolphi­ns. Maybe you’ll click over during commercial­s. Those whose loyalties are split — or who are agnostic regarding the locals — can wear out the toggle button. Or rely on picture-in picture. Or just turn the Red Zone Channel on. Still … The Giants can all but clinch the East. The Jets can reestablis­h themselves as legit playoff contenders. There are two football games of huge import affecting New York City this Sunday, and the NFL is forcing you to choose (with the grand prize being the SteelersSe­ahawks game now being available in the 4 p.m. window — a 64 team against a 55 team!)

Doesn’t the NFL remember how important we are?

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