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Jets remind Strahan of '07 Giants

For all the 2009 Jets and the '07 Giants have in common - notably unlikely playoff runs as No. 5 seeds - there is more that makes them dissimilar in their personnel and styles of play.

But Michael Strahan, defensive leader of the Giants' championship team and now a Fox TV analyst, said for all the differences, he has noted a familiar vibe from the men in green:

"I get the same feeling as far as their confidence," he said. "We had more big names, guys who had been in the league a lot longer, but I think the Jets have figured out, 'We can win, we just have to work together to do it.'"

Strahan said the Jets might be benefitting from the fact coach Rex Ryan incorrectly declared them out of contention Dec. 20.

"It's like being told you're dead," he said. "Everyone talks about a near-death experience. Then you come back and they've seen the light and are enjoying and appreciating life like never before."

Offensively, these Jets are far less explosive than the '07 Giants were, Strahan said, relying on their running game more than the Giants did with Eli Manning passing to Plaxico Burress.

Burress' 11 receptions in the NFC Championship Game could surpass the combined total for all Jets wide receivers Sunday - and Burress was operating in temperatures about 70 degrees lower than what the Jets will encounter against the Colts.

Defensively, the Jets are better in the secondary than their Giants counterparts, who were built around a strong front seven and especially a line that included Strahan.

"If you look at it as a whole, they probably are more balanced,' he said. "We were top heavy up front. We were more similar to what Minnesota is now."

Strahan had many friends on the Jets when he played, notably Wayne Chrebet, and knows well how the angst of the team's fans weighs on players.

"It's New York, man, you have to support each other," he said. "We're all in that thing together. It's a tough city to play in."

Strahan said coach Rex Ryan has done a masterful job focusing attention on himself and becoming the face of a team with fewer stars than the '07 Giants had.

"He's pretty much saying what they wish they could say," Strahan said.

The best thing the Jets have going for them might be that they already have faced Peyton Manning, in the controversial Dec. 27 game in Indianapolis.

"They at least saw some of Peyton and know it's familiar; they won't be intimidated," he said.

The Jets are only halfway to matching the Giants' playoff run, and standing in their way is a four-time MVP perhaps better equipped than anyone in the league to counter their aggressive defense.

"In order to throw Peyton off you have to throw him off his rhythm," Strahan said. "It won't be easy, but it's possible."

New York Sports