Cable Catfight Keeping Giants and Jets Fans in the Dark

Important games will be missed by many in New York City

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    For Giants and Jets fans, this is a pretty big weekend of games in the NFL. From Thursday night to Monday night, the schedule is chockful of games that either include their favorite teams or their chief rivals for playoff spots in games that will go a long way toward deciding whether we get any postseason football in the city this season.

    That's why it's a shame that so many of us will miss two of the most important games.

    Thursday night's Colts-Jaguars game and Saturday's Cowboys-Saints tilt are both airing on the NFL Network, which remains unavailable to Time Warner Cable subscribers. That covers most of the televisions in our fair city, a sad state of affairs for a couple of reasons.

    The first is that the NFL and Time Warner haven't found a way to simply make the channel available. The league argues that even those customers who don't want the product should be forced to pay for it while Time Warner makes the disingenuous argument that they want to keep costs down while still finding ways to raise rates without providing the channel. You can get the channels for every other league, as well as a channel devoted to the Big Ten Conference, but not the channel devoted to the most popular sport in the country. That's pretty silly no matter where you find yourself philosophically on the debate. 

    The other problem is that these games really do matter to the Giants and Jets. If the Jaguars lose on Thursday night, the Jets' playoff hopes can be upgraded several notches because it will mean that they have a game in hand over another rival who beat them on tiebreakers. A Colts loss, meanwhile, would give them a lot less reason to risk injury to key players in a must-win Week 16 date against Rex Ryan's crew.

    Saturday's game is an even more obvious draw. Even if Eli and company were 2-11, there isn't a Giants fan alive who doesn't want to see the Cowboys get slaughtered by the Saints. That said slaughter would give their stumbling band of idols an improved chance at the playoffs makes the game all the more important, and the fact that the Colts and Saints are both making runs at undefeated seasons is just gravy on the mashed potatoes.

    With DirectTV and other providers unavailable to a great many of New York City apartment dwellers, Time Warner's got a stranglehold on the cable business. Most of the year that isn't a problem (and thanks to Pat Kiernan of NY1, it's actually a gift), but times like this make it very hard to keep that in mind.

    The only winner in this standoff are the bars around the city that do have access to the NFL Network. They can expect a surge in business from football fans forced out into the cold December night. Make the most of it, dear barkeeps, because a month from now you'll be showing Nets games to four lonely souls.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.