Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP file photoEli Manning (10) and the New York Giants have lost seven consecutive games to fall to 3-9 on the season. Offensive line troubles have hurts the Giants after a 3-2 start.

Streaky nature of NFL teams puzzling

NFL coaches harp on the need for consistency. Regimen is everything.

Yet the streakiness of some teams, and the unpredictability for others, has marked this football season.

Now streakiness can be a good thing, as the Patriots (seven consecutive wins), Cardinals (six) and Cowboys (six) proved. Of course, each of them lost in Week 13.

And streakiness also can shatter a season, as the losses piled up for the Raiders (10), New York Jets (eight), New York Giants (seven), Jacksonville Jaguars (six), Tennessee Titans (six) and Carolina Panthers (six).

What is most maddening for coaches, general managers and players, though, is when they don't have a clue how their team will perform from week to week.

And yes, that has been true for some of the better clubs in the league. Defining what the 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers and each team in the AFC North is has become an unsolvable puzzle.

As for the tail enders, the two New York teams offer a case in point, which is surprising for the Giants, not so much for the Jets.

Under Tom Coughlin, the Giants have had lots of ups and downs. But they've generally blocked well for Eli Manning, had a substantial running game and a staunch pass rush filled with sack masters.

The reasons they are in the midst of the NFL's longest current slide is that all of those elements have failed.

Yes, Coughlin always looks exasperated on the sideline, and he's never had more reason to be so than this year. The only consistent things about the Giants are their inconsistency — and the steady losing.

“It's a loss that we feel we should've won,” Coughlin said after the Giants blew a 21-0 lead and fell in Jacksonville. “We've done this too many times. We just helped somebody beat us. Instead of forcing them to beat us, we helped them.”

The Jets are even more befuddling because the one thing they always have done under Rex Ryan is play hard and physical football. This year, they've barely showed up on a trip to San Diego and in two losses to Buffalo — the most recent after the Bills were displaced by massive snowstorms and forced to play a home game in Detroit.

Once reliable on defense, now they are fundamentally weak. Their offense hasn't been any good since Ryan's first two seasons in New Jersey (2009-10).

Thus, ridiculously long negative streaks fill the Jersey Meadowlands.

Still, Ryan and Coughlin would be less agitated if they had any clue which team would suit up and take the field. Shockingly, that's also true for some of the positive streaky teams.

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