Players, owners, and pundits expect the labor lockout in the National Football League to end soon and a new collective bargaining agreement to be put in place, with training camp for NFL teams starting at the end of July. That would give squads just two weeks before the preseason games start.
The fallout would continue into the regular season, with at least the first three games being impacted by the lockout. But will this disruption help or hinder the New York Jets and the New York Giants?
Obviously, the lockout and the subsequently rushed training will affect all the NFL teams, but not necessarily equally. The early games may be key for some teams and less important for others, and logic implies that veteran teams will be able to get back into the swing of things more quickly than younger teams, assuming the vets show up for training already in good physical shape.
Let's take a look at the first three games for the Jets and the Giants to try to make an educated guess on what the lockout will mean for them.
New York Jets
Host Dallas on Sept. 11.
Host Jacksonville on Sept. 18.
Visit Oakland on Sept. 25.
New York Giants
Visit Washington on Sept. 11
Host St. Louis on Monday Night Football, Sept. 19.
Visit Philadelphia on Sept. 25.
The Giants are one of the younger teams in the NFL, with a median age of 25.71, the ninth youngest in the league. The Jets are in the middle of the pack, 18th, at 26.13 years old. (The oldest team, the Washington Redskins, are at 27.33, and the youngest, the Carolina Panthers, are at 25.00.) If you believe that experience and knowing the system gives players an edge, this implies the Giants will have a rough time with the after effects of the lockout. If you believe that the younger players will come into the season in better shape and their athleticism will give them an edge, the results are flipped.
Either way, the Jets are unlikely to be affected much compared to other teams.
Their opponents suggest a similar divergence between the two New York teams' early season fortunes. Of the Jets' three opponents, Jacksonville is significantly younger and Oakland is significantly older, and Dallas is nearly the same age as the Jets. Another wash.
The Giants face the NFL's most veteran team (Washington Redskins) in their opening game, the fifth-youngest team in the St. Louis Rams, and an even younger Philadelphia Eagles team. This implies the Giants will lose to their conference rival in the first game, then battle with two teams even a bit younger than their own players.
In terms of team quality, Washington is a bit of a mess right now, with a new quarterback coming in and other players being dismissed by the front office. St. Louis is a solid squad with a shot at the playoffs. The Eagles are a Super-Bowl caliber team behind Michael Vick, but their defense is questionable. The Giants could go into the fourth week of the season 1-2.
The expectations for the Jets are high. The team's coach put them there, predicting a Super Bowl win in 2011. (Did he watch NBA Finals this year for a primer on preseason boasting and its consequences?) Before the Jets plan their victory parade down Broadway, they will need to make the playoffs, and that means performing decently in the early portion of the season. If they can get past a tough and unpredictable first game, the Jets could be 2-1 going into the fourth week.
Who can predict what Dallas will do in 2011? A healthy Tony Romo could lead the team deep into the playoffs--or they could implode again. Suffice it to say they are dangerous, and the Jets will have their hands full in their opening game. Jacksonville is a middling team that is unlikely to surprise this year, with few major changes in their personnel. Oakland was 8-8 last year and is likely to perform at about the same level in 2011.
The lockout doesn't seem to pose much of a threat to either the New York Jets or the New York Giants, with the Giants seemingly affected a bit more.