Best of NFL is in NYC
Start spreading the news. The Giants and Jets have climbed to the top of the league.
By MARK CRAIG, Star Tribune
Last update: November 24, 2008 - 11:50 PM
Giants owner John Mara and Jets owner Woody Johnson gave the media a tour of Meadowlands Stadium last Thursday.
They were happy to report that the 82,500-seat stadium is 60 percent complete, ahead of schedule and "on budget," according to Meadowlands Stadium CEO Mark Lamping. And by "on budget," they mean the stadium shouldn't cost a nickel more than the $1.6 billion that was earmarked for its 2010 debut.
The cost of the stadium and the ensuing hike in ticket prices have been a prickly issue for the two teams and their longtime fans during these difficult financial times.
"It's certainly something we're concerned about and we're very sensitive to," Mara told reporters. "That's why we try to come up with as many different pricing options as possible, and we're trying to be flexible and work with people in terms of payment scheduling."
Johnson also claimed to feel the common man's financial pain. He did fight back the tears long enough to assure the peasants that they will be "shocked and awed by the stadium" and "well-rewarded for their financial commitment."
Then, almost as if on cue, the Giants and Jets hit the road, became the two best teams in the NFL and jump-started talk of a New York "Subway Super Bowl."
The Giants (10-1) proved they're still the best team in the NFL by proving that Arizona is only the best team in the pitiful NFC West. The 37-29 road victory was even more impressive because the Giants did it without their best running back (Brandon Jacobs) and their best receiver (Plaxico Burress).
"It'll work out," Cardinals nose tackle Darnell Dockett said. "We'll see the Giants again."
With one more victory or a 49ers loss, the Cardinals will win their division and earn their first home playoff game since 1947 (that's not a typo, folks). But any rematch with the Giants would be on the road, which isn't good for a team that's 1-6 in the Eastern time zone under coach Ken Whisenhunt.
The Jets, meanwhile, raised their record to 8-3 by handing host Tennessee its first loss of the season. The 34-13 rout was a credit to the Jets' aggressive offseason acquisitions. And we're not only talking about the Brett Favre trade. The Jets also rebuilt their defensive line around nose tackle Kris Jenkins and their offensive line around left guard Alan Faneca and right tackle Damien Woody.
The Jets ran for 192 yards while holding the Titans to 45 yards rushing. If that's not a head-turner for the entire league, it should be. Favre + a running game + a solid defense = Look out AFC.
"We want to be taken seriously," Jenkins said.
"This puts us in good position," Favre added.
Check and check.
The Jets are tied with the Steelers for the second-best record in the division. But the Jets have an easier road to earning that No. 2 seed and first-round bye. Their remaining opponents are a combined 23-32, while Pittsburgh's remaining opponents are a combined 35-20. The Steelers' next four games are at New England (7-4), home against Dallas (7-4), at Baltimore (7-4) and at Tennessee (10-1). Ouch.
Chances are the Titans will earn home-field advantage in the AFC. They play at Detroit (0-11), Cleveland (4-7) and at Houston (4-7) over the next three weeks. Hello 13-1.
But even if the Jets have to go back to Tennessee in the playoffs, who cares? They manhandled the Titans from the get-go Sunday.
After Tennessee went three-and-out, the Jets drove 76 yards in nine plays and scored a touchdown on a defense that had allowed only 23 points in the first quarter all season.
"That first drive was a tone-setter," said running back Thomas Jones, who capped it with a 10-yard TD reception.
It also set the tone for the entire AFC heading into the final five weeks. And, oh yeah, it probably made selling tickets to Meadowlands Stadium a whole lot easier.
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Stadium Is 60 Percent Complete, Ahead Of Schedule And "on Budget,"
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