Let's continue our position-by-position look at the New York Giants and New York Jets with a look at the special teams units for each team.
When the Jets let punter Steve Weatherford go after last season the Giants snapped up the veteran free-agent punter to avoid the disastrous inconsistencies experienced a season ago with rookie punter Matt Dodge. Weatherford has responded with a career year. His 46.3 yards per punt average is the best of his career by nearly three yards and his net average of 40.0 puts the Giants seventh in the league, a vast improvement from a season ago.
Placekicker Lawrence Tynes is having an excellent season. He is 16-of-20 on field-goal attempts, with two of his misses coming from outside 50 yards. Thirty-three of Tynes' 70 kickoffs have been for touchbacks, a percentage of 47.1. That puts Tynes, historically near the bottom of the league in kickoffs, in the middle of the pack for NFL kickers.
The problem for the Giants has been in the return game, where they simply have not generated any big plays all season.
The Giants' average of 23.0 yards per kickoff return is 19th in the league and they have only one return longer than 40 yards all season. Devin Thomas handled the job early in the season, and rookie speedsters Da'Rel Scott and Jerrel Jernigan have been the primary returners recently.
Punt return has been even worse. The Giants average just 7.4 yards per return, 28th in the league. Aaron Ross handled those duties early in the season and Will Blackmon has taken over recently. The Giants are one of only two NFL (Carolina being the other) that does not have a punt return of 20 yards or longer this season.
The Jets replaced Weatherford with T.J. Conley and the rookie from Idaho has done a decent job. He has a 43.0 yards per punt average. His net average of 38.7 puts the Jets 17th in the league. Conley leads the league in forcing fair catches, with 25.
Placekicker Nick Folk is 18-of-23 on field-goal attempts, including thee-of-six from more than 50 yards. Folk's difficulty comes on kickoffs, where only 16 of his 73 kickoffs (20.9) have gone for touchbacks. That puts the Jets 31st in the league in that category.
Where the Jets are clearly superior to the Giants is in the return game.
The Jets are third in the league with an average of 26.8 yards per kickoff return, and have a league-best of seven returns of 40 yards or longer. Joe McKnight leads all regular NFL kick returners with a 32.3 yards per return average and has five of those 40+ yard runbacks. Antonio Cromartie has the other two.
The Jets average 8.6 yards per punt return. Rookie Jeremy Kerley has been the primary return man, averaging 9.4 yards per return.
Advantage: Jets ... based purely on the quality of their return game