Eli Manning of the New York Giants passes against the Washington Redskins during their game at MetLife Stadium on December 18, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
As we get ready for Saturday's epic battle between the New York Giants and New York Jets at MetLife Stadium let's break the teams down, position-by-position. In this post we will look specifically at the offenses of both teams.
Eli Manning of the Giants is on pace to throw for 4,985 yards, giving him an outside shot at a historic 5,000-yard season. He has a 91.7 passer rating, including a league-best 111.8 in the fourth quarter. He is having the best season of his career and deserves to go to the Pro Bowl. Without him the Giants could be 4-10, or worse.
Mark Sanchez of the Jets is in his third season and many are still wondering if he is, or ever will be, good enough to lead a team to a Super Bowl. He has passed for 3,009 yards this season, has a completion percentage of 56.9 and a passer rating of 82.2. The Jets generally just want Sanchez not to screw up games.
Shonn Greene of the Jets needs just 59 more yards to reach 1,000 for the first time in his three-year career. Greene is averaging 4.1 yards per pop. The Jets have also used LaDainian Tomlinson and Joe McKnight, but neither has reached 200 yards this season.
The Giants are last in the league in rushing yards per game (86.1), yards per carry (3.4) and runs of 20 yards or more (two). So, it is hard to make a case for their primary backs, Brandon Jacobs (513 yards, 3.7 per carry) and Ahmad Bradshaw (548 yards, 3.9 per carry), though the running game issues have been largely about poor blocking.
Based on results, though, this has to be ...
Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz make the most prolific tandem of wide receivers the Giants have ever had. Both players have more than 1,000 yards receiving and have a chance to break Amani Toomer's franchise record of 1,342 yards, set in 2002. Cruz, in his first real season after spending most of 2010 on injured reserve, leads the team in receptions (73) and yards (1,194). Nicks has 70 catches and a career-best 1,096 receiving yards. The Giants third receiver, Mario Manningham, has 39 catches for 523 yards.
Veterans Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress are the Jets primary weapons on the outside. Holmes has 47 catches for 604 yards and eight touchdowns, while Burress has 38 catches for 521 yards and eight TDs. These two are particularly effective in the red zone.
Dustin Keller of the Jets is Sanchez' favorite target. He has 50 catches for 693 yards and four touchdowns.
Jake Ballard of the Giants has had a surprisingly good season in his first full year with 38 catches for 604 yards and four touchdowns, but Ballard is unlikely to play Saturday due to a knee injury. Travis Beckum (three receptions) and Bear Pascoe (10 catches) are his replacements.
The Giants' line has struggled to block for the running game all season, and has been shuffled repeatedly by injuries. Center David Baas is ready to return, but may not reclaim his job since the Giants have run the ball effectively the past two weeks with Kevin Boothe at center and Mitch Petrus at guard.