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Rex Ryan Is Trying to Stir Things Up Again

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 18: Head coach Rex Ryan of the New York Jets looks on from the sidelines during the first half against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on December 18, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Rex Ryan.

You may have noticed Rex Ryan’s picture on the back page of the Post today, along with his declaration that the Jets are a better team than the Giants. It’s a familiar Ryan tactic: Saying something to grab headlines early in the week in order to shift attention away from his players. He did it last season prior to the Jets’ playoff game against the Colts, then did it again the following week in advance of their game at New England. And it's no surprise that he'd want the Jets conversation this week to be about something other than Sunday's ugly performance in Philadelphia.

Ryan's comments might have been strategic, but it's worth noting that he really does believe what he's saying here. He’s said it before, in his book — and it’s not hard to back up his claim that the Jets have been more successful than the Giants since Ryan arrived in New York. Ryan is obviously interested in where the Jets stand in this city's sports landscape, and so perhaps he'd have made comments like these no matter what the Jets had done last weekend, and no matter what Sunday's game meant for their playoff chances. One gets the sense that Ryan has had this game circled for some time.

But it still seems a little forced to raise the subject of Jets superiority, over any team, after such an ugly loss on Sunday, and at the tail end of a regular season in which the Jets didn't exactly take a major step forward. Ryan gets to be boastful when the Jets are winning, but he hasn't done quite enough of that this season. And let's be honest: To call one of these teams superior to the other right now isn't saying much at all. We love a good bar-room debate as much as the next guy, but right now we're far more concerned about who will win Saturday's game — and what the result means for each team's playoff hopes — than we are about who plays second fiddle to whom in this town, to use Ryan's phrasing. Sunday's game ought to be a spirited one — if both teams can't get up for this game, they might just be hopeless — and a victory will surely mean a little extra to fans of the winning team because of the opponent. But bragging rights mean less right now than staying in the playoff picture.

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Photo: Rob Carr/2011 Getty Images