A couple of weeks ago, the Jets faced the Vikings a couple of days after the Yankees bounced the Twins from the playoffs. The Jets, with a little help from Brett Favre, made sure there was pain on each of Minnesota's 10,000 lakes with a win on Monday night.
Now the baseball and football gods have again conspired to put civic pride on the line. The Yankees season ended in Arlington, Texas on Friday night and a weekend of celebration will culminate when JerryWorld fills up for the prime time clash between the Giants and the Cowboys. Regional pride is on the line once again, although our side faces the ignominy of a clean sweep this time.
Not that the Giants should worry much about any bets between mayors or governors. The Yankees loss should matter to them about as much as the Phillies loss, the senate race in Nevada or the ratings for the latest episode of "The Big Bang Theory." The Giants focus should be on making sure they put forth their best effort of the season when they take the field on Monday night.
That's not because winning the game will all but eliminate the Cowboys from playoff contention, however. That's been the overwhelming angle of choice in our local media outlets, but the idea that the Giants should be paying attention to external forces completely ignores the reason for their turnaround in the last three weeks. When the Giants were 1-2 and being treated a lot like people are treating the Cowboys right now, they shut out the outside world and made everything about themselves. It was absolutely the right approach then and it is the right approach now.
Focus on the fact that a win puts them in sole possession of first place and in outstanding shape when it comes to their positon in the NFC as a whole. At 5-2, the Giants would be tied for the conference's best record with Atlanta and an impressive performance on the road -- their second in three weeks -- Monday night would make it hard to make the case against them as the best team in the conference.
That's not to say that leaving Dallas with the Cowboys in a pool of their own blood isn't a nice thought, it's just that it's the wrong prism to use for viewing this game. It has to be about the Giants because good teams always make games about themselves not about the other team. That means being aggressive on the field, obviously, but it also means only worrying about doing what you have to do and what the game means for you in the week leading up to it.
Cowboys are 1-4 and on the brink of total disaster? Haven't noticed because we're too busy trying to get better. Approaching things any other way in the NFL can change fortunes in the blink of an eye.