Mark Sanchez, left, and the New York Jets will look to improve on their strong… (Matt Slocum; Michael Dwyer…)
It's a game with do-or-die playoff implications, a test of manhood for both high-profile quarterbacks, and one more thing:
The Battle for New York.
The New York Giants (7-7) play the New York Jets (8-6) on Saturday in what will be a Jets' home game at their shared MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
"Whoever wins the game can sit back and see the guy out there and say, 'Hey, you have a good team … but we beat you,' " Jets Coach Rex Ryan said. "And that's as simple as that and that answers any argument you want."
The Jets are 6-1 at home and currently occupy the final AFC wild-card position. However, they have Cincinnati, Oakland, Tennessee and San Diego nipping at their heels and are reeling from a 45-19 loss at Philadelphia that Ryan said was the team's worst performance — "horrible" — during his tenure.
Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez threw for just 150 yards, was sacked four times and intercepted twice in the loss. Sanchez called the effort "embarrassing."
Similarly, Giants quarterback Eli Manning had three passes intercepted in a 23-10 loss to last-place Washington that running back Brandon Jacobs described as passionless.
The Giants are 1-5 in their last six games, the latest setback coming a day after the Dallas Cowboys (8-6) won to break the tie atop the NFC East. The Giants play host to Dallas in the regular-season finale. If they beat the Jets and Cowboys, the Giants win the division.
"The only way to get this bad taste out of our mouths is to play our best football Saturday," Manning said.
The rivalry is enough go fuel New York fans, but with the playoffs on the line ...
"There's going to be a butt in every single seat to see it, whether you're a Jet fan, a Giant fan or just a football fan.… This is going to be a great game," Ryan told reporters. "I never came here to be little brother to anybody, so it's on."
San Diego (7-7) at Detroit (9-5)
The Chargers looked like a Super Bowl team Sunday night, but the NFL requires consistency such as that exhibited between the Lions' Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson (214 yards, two touchdowns in beating Raiders). Detroit can clinch its first playoff bid since 1999 by winning, or watching the four 7-7 teams behind it lose. San Diego needs to win out, and hope for Denver, the Jets and Cincinnati to lose.
Philadelphia (6-8) at Dallas (8-6)
Can you trust Tony Romo in a big game? The Cowboys would like to wrap up the NFC East, and could do so if they win and the Giants lose to the Jets. However, Mike Vick and the Eagles throttled the Jets last week and Philadelphia's rallying defense could push the unpredictable Cowboys' leader to another jittery performance. The Eagles beat the Cowboys in Week 8, 34-7.
Arizona (7-7) at Cincinnati (8-6)
The Cardinals take a four-game winning streak to their trip against another wild-card outsider hoping for a victory and a break. The Jets (8-6) own the tie-breaker over the Bengals.