It may only be August but this Saturday in East Rutherford the New York football faithfuls will be out in regular season form as the Giants and Jets square off in the 6th annual “Snoopy Bowl” at Metlife Stadium. There has been no love lost over the years between the bitter rivals and though it is only the preseason I don’t expect emotions to be running high come Saturday.
Week 3 of the preseason is usually the last time NFL teams will run their starters out there before the regular season starts and with that in mind you can bet we are in for some top notch football. What will make this game even more interesting to watch is the return (and debuts) of some of both team’s most dynamic players.
For the Giants it will hopefully be the much anticipated return of wide receiver Victor Cruz. Cruz has been plagued by knee and calf injuries over the past two seasons that has kept him on the sideline and it looks like all signs are pointing to him being able to get some action on Saturday. All eyes will be on Cruz this season to see if he can stay healthy and get back to his All-Pro form and it all may start this Saturday against the Jets. No doubt will the Jets be looking to remind Cruz of the physicality of the NFL so expect some chippiness from both sides.
The Jets will be looking to see the return of All-Pro defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson and the debut of their new starting running back Matt Forte. Wilkerson broke his leg in the 2015 season finale against the Buffalo Bills and spent the entire season rehabbing the injury while also waiting to get paid by the Jets. Luckily for both sides an agreement was reached and the Jet’s organization and Wilkerson are excited to have put the long contract dispute to rest.
As for Forte, the Jets are looking for him to be the All-Pro that he was in Chicago with the Bears. One of the league’s best all around backs Forte has been dealing with a hamstring injury that has kept him sidelined for most of training camp and the preseason. When Forte return he will bring a much needed veteran presence and safety net to a Jets backfield behind Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Other than these returns and debuts mentioned above we can expect the usual from both teams on Saturday. The Giants are coming off a 21-0 loss to the Bills last week and first year head coach Ben McAdoo was visibly upset with the loss. You can bet that Eli Manning will be slinging the ball in the direction of Odell Beckham Jr. early and often to prove that last week’s goose egg was a fluke. On the defensive side of the ball the Giants will be looking for former Jet Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison to dupe Gang Green’s offensive line and cause some mayhem in the backfield.
The Jets will see the usual chemistry between Fitzpatrick and his pro bowl wideouts Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall on the offensive side. On defense, Leonard Williams and the Jet’s younger, faster front seven will be looking to disrupt Eli Manning in every way possible.
Strap in for a good one Saturday night.