New York Minute

November 23, 2009 8:39 AM

Lombardi Trophy Not Coming to N.Y.

As the NFL heads into the final six weeks of the season, one thing became perfectly clear after Sunday's action, and that is this: the Lombardi Trophy won't be coming to New York.

It might even be reach for either the Giants or Jets to make the playoffs, but even if they do get there, it won't be an extended stay. There are simply too many flaws for either team to be considered title contenders.

The Jets (4-6) will just be lucky to get through the next month with their pride intact. This is a team that is 1-6 since starting the season 0-3, and they are 1-4 in their division. A whole bunch of teams would need to collapse for them to even sniff the postseason.

A lot of fans jumped on the Jets bandwagon after the quick start, but there are some obvious flaws that have jumped out over the last seven weeks.

The first is their defense is not nearly good enough. Losing Kris Jenkins at nose tackle to a season-ending injury doesn't help, but the problems go much deeper than that. The team isn't nearly physical enough, rarely gets a key stop and simply isn't a unit capable of taking the team to the playoffs.

Coach Rex Ryan came to the Jets as a defensive whiz, but with the pieces he has, even he can't camouflage all of the team's weaknesses. The Jets surrendered 31 points in Sunday's loss to the Patriots, hardly a crime against one of the league's elite teams.

But the thing is, when the Jets tried to make it a game in the second half, the Jets couldn't close the deal on defense. The Patriots clinched the game on a 10-yard touchdown run by Lawrence Maroney with 5:06 in the fourth quarter.

A lot of people also became enamored early with quarterback Mark Sanchez, and in time, the rookie from USC has a chance to be a pretty good player in the NFL. But as evidenced yesterday, he still has a lot of growing up to do. He was only 8-of-21 for 136 yards, but the most disastrous number was the four interceptions. Bill Belichick has confused even experienced quarterbacks, so it's no surprise that Sanchez would struggle. Until he gets more experience and some better playmakers surrounding him, the Jets are going to struggle for consistency.

The Giants (6-4) could make it to the postseason, but the way their defense is playing, it's difficult to envision making an extended run.

There are simply too many issues with the secondary and the pass rush for them to be considered a title contender, even after Sunday's 34-31 overtime win over Atlanta.

The Falcons were on the ropes, trailing by two touchdowns after Madison Hedgecock's 3-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning with 12:08 left in the game.

But the Falcons scored on their next two drives, including one with 28 seconds left that send the game into overtime.

Fortunately for the Giants, they won the coin flip and received the kickoff in overtime. Manning then led them to a 36-yard field goal by Lawrence Tynes for the victory. If the Giants had lost the flip, there would have been more than a few anxious fans watching Atlanta come on to the field against a defense that surrendered 24 points in the second half.

The Giants face a struggling team Denver on Thanksgiving, and then host conference rivals Dallas and Philadelphia. They also face Washington, Carolina and Minnesota, and it's not inconceivable to 4-2 in their final six games to finish 10-6. That should be enough to get into the playoffs, but unless the defense improves in a hurry, it could be an early exit.

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