New York Giants (7-7 SU, 6-7-1 ATS) vs. New York Jets (8-6 SU, 6-8 ATS), 1:00 p.m. EST, Week 16 NFL, Saturday, December 24, 2011, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J., TV: FOX
by Badger, Sports Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NYG +3/NYJ -3
Over/Under Total: 45.5
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The National Football League brass and commissioner Rodger Goodell couldnt have wished for a better Christmas Eve present then a New York Giants versus New York Jets matchup in MetLife Stadium on Saturday.
A matchup that has so many media and hype-related issues, as well as must-win playoff implications, that it makes it a perfectly wrapped-up present with a big red bow on top for the NFL and everyone else in the Big Apple.
Sounding almost scripted, Jets head coach Rex Ryan gave the New York media an early Christmas present by starting the hype machine around this game right away Monday with comments calling the Giants the little brother in the Jets-Giants rivalry, even though the Giants own a 7-4 advantage in the 11-game history between these two teams.
Ryans press conference was probably meant as a diversion to take the focus off of how poorly the Jets played last week in their, 45-19, loss at Philadelphia last Sunday. The Eagles had 28-0 lead before the Jets hardly even had a first down, and with just 246 yards of total offense, four sacks allowed and four turnovers the Jets never really even threatened the Eagles in the embarrassing 26-point loss.
Not exactly the way the Jets wanted to enter the biggest Jets-Giants game in the history of the two franchises, even though the loss didnt hurt their chances at clinching the AFCs final wild card birth.
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Thankfully the Giants dropped a similar steaming pile of a stinker last Sunday too, losing to the NFC East rival Washington Redskins for the second time this season at home in MetLife, 23-10. The Giants failed in just about every phase, with Eli Manning throwing three interceptions and receivers dropping passes to stall the offense, both sides of the ball committing eight killer penalties and if not for a late, token touchdown in the closing seconds the Redskins would have won by 20 points instead of just 13 points.
The loss to Washington makes this weeks game against the Jets a must-win situation in order to set up a showdown with Dallas for the NFC East title next week in MetLife Stadium, since the Cowboys sit a game ahead of the G-men with a home game against Philly this week in Dallas.
Oddsmakers set the opening point spread for the Battle of New York with the Jets as 3-point favorites. After 48 hours of open wagering it appears the public is in agreement, since the number is still sitting at Jets minus -3 with just a small handful of offshore sportsbooks dropping the hook to minus -2.5.
The over/under total opened at 47 and dropped quickly to 46 at a large majority of sportsbooks on the Web. With more wagers on the under pouring in the total has dropped to 45.5 or even 45 at some books, even though most of the sportsbooks out in Las Vegas are still sitting at 46.
Offensively this game features two teams that thrive on running the ball between the tackles to set up the play-action pass, but neither team has been successful at accomplishing that goal in 2011. The Jets with Shonn Green carrying the load are ranked 21st in the NFL at running the ball (104 ypg), while the Giants duo of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs are dead-last in the league at just 86 yards a game rushing.
Because of the struggling rushing attacks, both Manning and Jets QB Mark Sanchez have been forced to throw the ball to win, which has produced mixed results throughout the course of the first 15 weeks of the regular season. Manning and the Giants have great numbers (299 ypg 3rd), but stats have yet to translate into wins. Sanchez will never have great passing numbers (202 ypg 21st), and his inconsistency has not helped the Jets from stopping their losing streaks at various times during the season.
Sanchez hurt his neck and missed a few drives against the Eagles last week, but he is listed as probably on the early-week injury report for the Jets.
All of these offensive woes means this game will likely turn on which defense plays better on Sunday.
The NYJ appear to be healthier, and with their strong secondary (allow 205 ypg 7th) and corners Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie they should be able to limit the amount of damage the Giants offense causes each week passing.
For the Giants defense it has been a season-long struggle with injuries and inconsistency. But they seem to respond well when their backs are against the wall and they are challenged, and with Ryans words posted on the locker room wall the challenge is right there in front of them.
The Giants have won four straight meetings against the Jets, including the last time these two met back in 2007, 35-24. Former Jet Chad Pennington threw three interceptions in that game, and the Giants ran for nearly 200 yards on the ground, so its hard to compare a game four years ago to the one that will take place on Christmas.
The Giants are also 3-0-1 ATS during the four-game win streak, so it safe to say the series has been dominated by the G-men of late despite all of the hot air coming out of Rex Ryans mouth.
The Giants are also 6-1 ATS in their last seven games played on Saturday, and 11-4-1 ATS in their last 16 games as an underdog of 0.5 to 3.0, so there are plenty of solid betting trends to help you back the Giants as dogs on Saturday.
But the Jets are 4-0 ATS on Saturday, so the novelty of a rare Saturday game favors both teams when looking at the trends.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: J-E-T-S -3!
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