Giants and Jets Could Make Worst Ever Combined Start in Week 6 as New York's NFL Misery Continues

Bar the odd venue operating at a drastically reduced capacity, the majority of NFL stadiums have been desolately empty through the first five weeks of the season because of the coronavirus pandemic. The COVID-19 outbreak has prevented Seattle Seahawks fans from witnessing their franchise's best ever start to the season in person, while only a smattering of Cleveland fans have been able to cheer on what looks a long-awaited new dawn for the Browns.

Similarly, the NFL's two new arenas—SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles and Las Vegas' Allegiant Stadium—will in all likelihood have to wait until next year to welcome spectators.

For the New York Giants and the New York Jets, however, playing games behind closed doors may have been a blessing in disguise so far as it probably spared them being booed off the field by their respective fans.

Along with the Atlanta Falcons, the two New York franchises are the only teams to have lost each of their first five games so far this season and are rock-bottom of their divisions. Should the Giants and the Jets lose in Week 6, it would be the first time in NFL history both franchises have started off with a combined 0-12 record.

The feeling of wheels falling off before the calendar has reached Halloween is one fans of Big Blue are increasingly familiar with. This season is the third time the Giants have started 0-5 over the last decade, following similarly disastrous starts in 2013—when they lost their first six games—and 2017. Last year, meanwhile, marked the first time the Jets started 0-4 since 2003.

Similarly, this season isn't the first time the Giants and the Jets experienced disastrous starts simultaneously. Reeling from a 3-13 record in 1995, the Jets managed to be even worse the following season, losing the first eight games for the first time in their history to finish with a franchise-worst 1-15 record. The Giants also lost the first three games of the season, but were a somewhat more respectable 2-5 by the time the Jets lost their eighth consecutive game—ironically, the Giants snapped their losing streak with a win against their neighbors in Week 4.

Joe Judge, New York Giants
New York Giants head coach Joe Judge looks on before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium on September 14 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants are 0-5 going into Week 6 of the season. Jim McIsaac/Getty

In 1980, meanwhile, both teams found themselves in a 1-5 hole after five weeks, albeit after taking different routes to the unwanted milestone. The Jets lost their first five, before mounting a mini-rally of two wins in three games. The Giants, meanwhile, won the season opener against the St. Louis Cardinals, before cratering to an 1-8 record following eight consecutive defeats.

Both teams finished the season with a 4-12 record, which looks worryingly respectable for their current iterations.

It is 1976, however, which still represents the nadir for football in the Big Apple, at least until Sunday anyway. The Giants plunged to a 0-9 start—the worst ever start for a New York team—before winning three of their last five games under John McVay, the grandfather of current Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay who had replaced Bill Arnsparger after seven games.

Not to be outdone, the Jets lost five of their six opening games and their only three wins came against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Buffalo Bills, who finished 0-14 and 2-12 respectively and along with the Seattle Seahawks were the only franchises to finish the season with a record worse than 3-13 compiled by the Jets and the Giants.

Neither the Giants nor the Jets began the current season with lofty expectations—bookmakers had both teams over/under win total at 6.5 ahead of the season—but the first five weeks would have surprised even the most pessimistic of fans.

The Giants and the Jets rank 28th and 29th out of 32 NFL teams in total yards gained—notably, two of three teams below them have each played one fewer game—and are second-last and rock-bottom in terms of points scored.

Big Blue ranks 28th in net pass yards per attempt, while the Jets are three spots lower and their struggles are reflected by their respective quarterbacks. Daniel Jones ranks 26th in adjusted yards per pass out of 28 quarterbacks who have started at least four games so far, while Sam Darnold is 27th.

When it comes to the rushing game, the Jets are 22nd, while the Giants are 31st. On the defensive side of the ball, the situation is hardly rosier. The Giants are anonymously mediocre, ranking 20th in points allowed, while the Jets are third from bottom in that particular metric.

There are, however, some reasons to be mildly optimistic ahead of Sunday. The Giants host NFC East rivals Washington Football Team, who have lost the last four games following a surprisingly win in the season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles and travel to New Jersey as a 2.5-point underdog.

The Jets also face a divisional rival in the shape of the Miami Dolphins, who are 2-3 but arrive in Week 6 on the back of a 43-17 shellacking of the 49ers in San Francisco.

History too offers some crumbs of comfort to both franchises. The Jets and the Giants both reached the playoffs the season after their dismal 1980 campaigns, while the Jets followed up their 1-15 outing in 1996 with five winning seasons in the next six years, which returned three trips to the playoffs.

Joe Flacco, New York Jets
Joe Flacco #5 of the New York Jets during the game against the Arizona Cardinals at MetLife Stadium on October 11 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Mike Stobe/Getty