NEW YORK (Reuters) - New Yorkers have started dreaming of a first “Subway Super Bowl” following strong starts to the season by the Giants and the Jets, although both sets of fans will see their teams tested in the next round of games.
The Giants have not missed a beat since shocking the unbeaten Patriots 17-14 in the last Super Bowl by posting an NFC-best 9-1 record, while the Jets (7-3) are flying high at the top of the AFC East after beating New England last week.
The road triumph on Thursday was a breakthrough win for the Jets, who have struggled in the shadow of the dominant Patriots in recent years.
However, the Jets face an even tougher assignment next week with a trip to Tennessee to play the NFL’s only unbeaten team.
“I think they play complementary football and they’re talented in all three phases,” Jets head coach Eric Mangini told reporters on Monday, referring to the 10-0 Titans’s offense, defense and special teams.
“They’re well-coached. They score a lot of points in the second quarter and the fourth quarter, which makes you believe they’re very well-conditioned.
“They don’t make a lot of mistakes. They haven’t turned the ball over on offense and they’ve generated a lot of turnovers on defense. That goes a long way to winning and losing.”
The Jets beat the Pats with a disciplined game plan executed to perfection by quarterback Brett Favre, imported this season to help New York climb into the AFC elite.
With the master plan taking shape, a win by the Jets over the Titans would bolster belief that the New Yorkers could make their first trip to the Super Bowl since Joe Namath made good his guarantee to beat the vaunted Baltimore Colts in 1969.
The Giants passed a test of their rushing prowess on Sunday by pounding their way to a 30-10 rout of the Baltimore Ravens, exceeding 200 yards on the ground for a third game in a row and against the NFL’s top-rated run defense.
However, they face a different challenge next Sunday against NFC West-leading Phoenix Cardinals (7-3), who have one of the league’s most explosive passing attacks with quarterback Kurt Warner and receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who won MVP honors on the same Arizona field in last February’s Super Bowl, said he had faith in the passing game if the contest became a shootout.
“We feel very confident in our passing game with our receivers,” said Manning, who has gone six games in a row throwing for less than 200 yards for New York, which leads the league with an average 172.7 yards a game rushing.
“It is just we are not called to make a bunch of plays right now at this time. It is all just kind of based on what the defense is doing and what is working for us.”
Manning said he expected Arizona to load up the defensive line to stop the Giants’ rushing attack.
“That is when the passing game has got to step up,” he said.
“We have to keep working on all our parts of our offense and know that whatever the defense is doing we are going to have an answer and it is just about execution.”
Editing by John O’Brien
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.