In late July, visions of a second Subway World Series between the Mets and Yankees were bounced around as an actual possibility.
When the Mets and Yankees faced off in a pair of games during the summer, it appeared that the two New York baseball teams were among the best in the game.
Three months later, such fantasies were quickly tossed aside, as the Mets couldn’t finish off their regular season with the same flair and promise they displayed from April through August.
But two New York teams are again in the pro sports spotlight simultaneously. These franchises don’t have championship aspirations, but they have overcome expectations and are putting a dark decade of pro football in New York behind them.
Success Is No Mirage: Don’t Cite The Schedules
The New York Jets
The Jets own the longest NFL playoff drought, which lasted 11 years. The 2022 team has embraced not being the same as their predecessors, saying they are not the “same old Jets.” The Giants have appeared in and lost one playoff game since 2012. They won five games last season and kept many of the same key players.
After six weeks, the Jets and Giants have won nine of their first 12 games combined. Neither fan base is making plans based on their team’s odds to make the Super Bowl in Arizona. Instead, they hope to watch their team participate in a playoff game, which is last seen in the New York pro football calendar in the last 10 seasons.
The naysayers and fans of rival teams will quickly remind Jets fans of their schedule so far. They have faced four teams from the NFC North, and none are over .500. The Jets have also played Green Bay and Miami, another pair of .500 teams. While much of the national media is pointing to the Jets’ win at Green Bay as a significant achievement, the reality is that this version of the Packers just isn’t very good. You haven’t beaten anyone, say those who want to position the Jets’ success as an illusion.
But such a line of reasoning is usually flimsy and a tactic of those simply looking to give no credit to a team for its record rather than realistically looking at where they may truly stand. No one is expecting the Jets to go to Buffalo and knock off the Bills in the AFC Divisional playoffs yet. The Bills are an elite team. But these Jets are looking like a good team. And there is proof that they have been a “good” team through six weeks. Because good teams beat who they are supposed to beat. The Jets beat Green Bay, Miami., Cleveland and Pittsburgh. By doing so, they have earned their 4-2 record. They would not be regarded as a good team if they lost two of those games. It’s that simple.
For long-suffering Jets fans, respectability feels like unfamiliar territory. And they must keep this pace up, or something close to it. Otherwise, they won’t ultimately be regarded as a good team. After a date with Denver in Week 7, the Jets face the Patriots twice and Buffalo once. They could very well lose two of those three games, with their fans coming away feeling like they still may be a good team but not a contender. The Jets also get the Bills for the second time in Week 12 and won’t have an easy matchup with the Vikings in Week 14.
Happy Endings Are Possible Without Deep Playoff Runs This Time
If the Jets just play near .500 ball the rest of the way and win six of 11, they will finish at 10-7. Most Jets fans will be content with such a record because that will be a significant sign of progress after winning 10 games in the past three seasons. This year, Jets fans were looking for reasons to have hope for the future. If the Jets can vie for a playoff spot and come away with a winning record, with a young team stocked with promising talent, it will be a successful season.
The New York Giants
Meanwhile, the Giants are trying to keep pace with the Eagles in the suddenly resurgent NFC East. No one expected them to be 5-1, especially with their lack of playmakers outside of running back on offense. The Giants haven’t dealt with a strong schedule, either, as they have not beaten any team with more than three wins and lost to Dallas. But again, they have not shrunk to the level of lesser opposition when facing such teams and beat the Ravens, who came into their matchup with the Giants sporting a winning record.
The schedule is also friendly for the Giants going forward, as they take on the Jaguars, Seahawks, Texans, and Lions in their next four games. They also have two dates with Washington and a Week 17 matchup with the Colts on the schedule. The Giants are well-coached, and their QB is not making the turnovers that derailed him and the team so often in h s previous seasons. The superstar RB is staying healthy, and the defense is making timely plays. As a result, the Giants could end up with a better record than the Jets and a spot in the NFC playoffss as a wild-card team. No one was expecting that sort of outlook in the preseason.
In the NFL, early-season success may only last for a while, especially if injuries become a significant factor. For now, though, Jets and Giants fans should wholeheartedly be thankful to be out of the dumps, to leave the doldrums behind, and see their teams play competitively and respectably every week.
It is a revitalizing experience that is being earned by the team and its fans, who have remained loyal.
Featured Image: Fox 5 New York