When Week 14 got underway, neither the Jets nor the Giants were in playoff position.
Things look very different now that the week is almost over. Thanks to their wins on Sunday, both the Jets and Giants now find themselves in control of their own postseason destinies.
If they keep winning, there's no way that the playoffs will begin without both our local sides playing for a chance to advance to the Super Bowl. That's a pretty nice turn of events for two teams that have spent more time disappointing fans than thrilling them this season.
What makes it all the more interesting is that the two teams are going to face off on Christmas Eve in a game that could make the warm feelings generated on the field Sunday seem like an illusion.
The loser of that game could well find themselves watching the winner continue their season while they have to start the unhappy business of planning for 2012.
Things aren't guaranteed to work out that way, but it certainly looks like the battle for the Meadowlands will be a defining moment in each team's season. We have Sunday to thank for that Christmas present and for quite a bit more.
GOOD: Bringing Tom Moore in to help out the offense for the rest of the season is looking like a masterstroke by Rex Ryan. The Jets offense hasn't looked better this season than it did on Sunday, showing tremendous balance and creativity after weeks of mediocre returns left everyone wondering if the Jets could possibly make it back to the playoffs for a third straight season.
GOOD: Eli Manning and Jason Pierre-Paul deservedly dominated the headlines on Sunday night, but Hakeem Nicks deserves some applause for his work as well. Victor Cruz's emergence has made it easy to ignore how good Nicks has been, but Nicks provided ample reminders with a dominant game against the Cowboys.
BAD: The Jets were able to overcome Jim Leonhard's injury last season, but you can be sure it wasn't something they wanted to try again this year. Leonhard is done for the year with a knee injury, leaving a huge hole in the Jets defense that will be difficult to fill with the players currently on the roster.
UGLY: Blame injuries, Perry Fewell or anything else you like for why the Giants defense is bad this year, but there's no way to put lipstick on this pig. It was another dreadful performance for the defense on Sunday night, including some of the worst pass coverage anyone has ever seen in the fourth quarter. The only good spin to put on the defense is that Manning's season would be a lot less interesting if he wasn't constantly bailing out such a terrible unit.
GOOD: The Jets defense had no such problems against the Chiefs. Yes, Kansas City was playing as bad a quarterback as the world has ever seen in Tyler Palko, but they did what they were supposed to do when faced with such a bad opponent by shutting down every single thing he tried to do.
BAD: The Jets had so much go right that it feels like nitpicking to criticize something that had no bearing on the game, but calling a timeout before the first play of the game because you only have 10 players on the field is totally inexcusable. The Jets' sloppiness this season has reached epic proportions.
GOOD: Brandon Jacobs has been an easy player to criticize this season, so his best game in several years deserves some praise. Jacobs ran hard, ran well and dominated the Cowboys so thoroughly that Ahmad Bradshaw's suspension was nothing but a footnote.
BAD: All that said, what in the world was Jacobs doing after he scored his first of two touchdowns? Is that a dance or a full-body dry heave? Only Jacobs could do something on a night like Sunday to make you question whether or not all of the good things were worthwhile.
UGLY: We were pretty close to having a different discussion after the Jets game thanks to the team's decision to have Mark Sanchez throw a pass up 35-10 on fourth down in the fourth quarter. Sanchez was sacked, exposing him to an injury the team simply can't afford.
GOOD: Ground and Pound has mostly been a myth for the Jets this season, but it has looked a little closer to reality over the last two weeks. Shonn Greene had 129 yards Sunday, following up a strong game against the Redskins and giving hope that he might still wind up being the back the team thought he was when the year got underway.