In contrast to last year's "Will the Patriots Be Perfect?" season-long docudrama, the '08-'09 NFL season has been lacking for a definitive storyline. The Giants have been very good, and the AFC has regressed, but there's been little on the field that grabs a fan and makes John Madden go, "Boom!".
That absence of fairytale fodder ended this weekend, as results around the league drew the prospect of a New York Super Bowl between the Giants and Jets into much sharper focus. Last week there were whispers of maybe, but now going forward those whispers will have the oddsmakers on their side. Here's the rundown on why:
First in the NFC: The Giants defeated the Arizona Cardinals with their B-Team. Not playing their starting running back or starting wide receiver, and still looking fairly dominant over a leading NFC contender, means if there was any questions after last week's nevermore-ing of the Ravens, those questions are gone. They are indisputably the NFL's team to beat.
While the G-Men were tarring and feathering the Cardinals, the other non-Eastern division contender, the Carolina Panthers, were getting smacked by the Atlanta Falcons. And the rest of the NFC East still looks a step slower. All of this adds up to a Perfect Patriots level of expectation for Big Blue.
In the AFC, the road to New York Bowl I has a few more question marks. But the Jets knocked the novelty out of the heretofore undefeated Tennessee Titans. With a lot of teams bunched around the 6-5 an 7-4 mark, expect playoff prophets to boil it down to quarterback play. And when you're talking quarterbacks, you know you gotta talk Brett Favre, baby.
Bottom line: the Jets have a lot to prove, and will never be considered a gimmie, but they're the team currently playing the best football in the AFC.
So now with a handful of weeks left in the season, and the finish line in sight, both New York teams are in position to make the playoffs. What they do from there, we can only speculate, but Favre vs. Eli Manning is just about the dreamiest matchup either the NFL or the city of New York could hope for. So prepare to hear a lot about it. Starting in 3, 2, 1 ...