Although seven of the 11 starters on offense have
changed since the last time the Giants and Patriots met --- only
offensive linemen Kareem McKenzie, David Diehl, and Chris Snee, and
quarterback Eli Manning remain -- the biggest difference between the
2007 Giants offense and the 2010 version is the maturation of Manning.
The Giants offensive captain, who back then was
only in his fourth season, has since entered the prime of his career,
and has become even better than he was when he snagged the Super Bowl
XLII MVP award after completing 19 of 34 passes for 255 yards and two
"I would say he is controlled," said head coach
Tom Coughlin about Manning's play. "He is obviously very aware of
situations and circumstances. The poise and confidence, the accuracy
and the knowledge with all the studying that he does, the way that he
performs is by knowing the opponent. He has a lot of responsibility and
he does a very good job with that."
On Sunday, Manning, who has improved in nearly every
statistical category since the 2007 season, will face a Patriots
defense that statistically appears to play to the strengths of the
Giants offense, which is the passing game. New England's defense is
uncharacteristically ranked dead last in the NFL in total yards
surrendered (424.1 per game) and total passing yards allowed (323.1 per
game). Meanwhile the Giants' offense is averaging 373.1 yards per game
(11th in the league) and 287.6 passing yards per game (6th league-wide).
Meanwhile on defense, New York is sporting a
revamped unit -- only defensive ends Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, and
cornerbacks Corey Webster and Aaron Ross remain from the Super Bowl
game. They're also under the direction of a new defensive coordinator
in Perry Fewell.
However, New York's defensive philosophy today is
still very similar to what the Giants ran in 2007, and that is to
pressure the quarterback with as few people as possible.
So far the strategy has worked. The Giants have a NFL-best
26 sacks, a figure that puts them on a pace for 60 sacks, which would
top the 53 they recorded in 2007.
New York also has eight interceptions, seven shy
of the 15 they had in 2007, and are plus-five in the takeaway/giveaway
department, which puts them sixth in the NFL.
While the Giants run defense has struggled -- they have
allowed on average 130.1 yards per game, which puts them 28th in the
NFL -- most of the yardage seems to have come on one or two big plays
--CB Prince Amukamara (foot) was limited in
Wednesday's practice. Amukamara, who has seen his workload increase,
could make his 2011 NFL debut this week what with the Giants down a
cornerback due to the season-ending injury sustained by DB Justin Tryon.
--OL Stacy Andrews (back) was not at Wednesday's
practice. Andrews, who missed last week's game against Miami, is a
question mark for Sunday's game against the Patriots.
--DE Justin Tuck (neck/groin) was limited in
Wednesday's practice, but is expected to play Sunday.
--DE Osi Umenyiora (knee/shoulder) did not
practice on Wednesday. Umenyiora hurt his shoulder in last week's game
against the Dolphins, but X-rays were negative and he is expected to
--LB Michael Boley (knee) took his full amount of
reps in Wednesday's practice and is expected to play on Sunday.
--C David Baas (knee) did not practice on
Wednesday. Baas, who said he feels better, is not likely to play on
--RB Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) did not practice
Wednesday. Head coach Tom Coughlin said Bradshaw's foot was "swollen
and sore." Bradshaw, however, has shown he has a high pain threshold
and will probably play if he can get in some practice snaps this week.
--FB Henry Hynoski (neck) was limited in
Wednesday's practice. The rookie would appear to be a long shot to play
on Sunday. If he can't go, TE/FB Bear Pascoe is expected to get the nod
--WR Hakeem Nicks (hamstring) was not at
Wednesday's practice. Although he's listed as "day-to-day" according to
head coach Tom Coughlin, Nicks, whose MRI results reportedly didn't
reveal anything serious, appears to be a long shot to play on Sunday.
--WR Mario Manningham (illness) did not practice
on Wednesday, but is expected to be ready for Sunday.
If the Giants are hoping to get their running
game going this week, it's not going to be easy. Not only is their top
RB, Ahmad Bradshaw, nursing a sore foot (he's expected to play Sunday),
their offensive line, which has had its problems run blocking, could be
without starting C David Baas (knee). That's not good news when facing
a Patriots run defense that has allowed allowing opponents just 101.0
yards per game.
If the run game sputters, the Giants will have to
do what they have done so well this season -- pass the ball. However,
New England could switch from the zone coverage they deployed last week
to the more physical man-to-man coverage that typically gives the
Giants receivers fits.
On defense, the Giants have probably played more
zone coverage than they'd like this year, this likely due to the
injuries that have seemingly claimed one cornerback after another (the
latest one being Justin Tryon, who was lost this week due to a broken
The problem with zone coverage is that Patriots QB
Tom Brady is a master at finding the soft spots, as is WR Wes Welker,
the Patriots' leading receiver. Thus, a key for the Giants could be the
return of first-round draft pick Prince Amukamara, who, if he's ready
to get back to action, could give the Giants an extra physical
cornerback that will allow defensive coordinator Perry Fewell to deploy
more man-to-man coverage against the Patriots' receivers.
This would in turn likely allow the Giants' pass
rush to have a better chance at getting home against Brady because by
bumping the receivers at the line of scrimmage, it will upset the
timing between the quarterback and receivers.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Giants pass defense vs. Patriots
quarterback Tom Brady -- Defenses don't shut down Brady; they can only
try to limit the damage he can inflict on an opponent. Don't be
surprised, then, if the Giants borrow a page out of their game plan
from Super Bowl XLII, when they constantly had a four-man rush go after
Brady, with the occasional linebacker or cornerback coming in just to
mix things up a bit. The key for the Giants will be how well they are
able to disguise their pass rushes; meanwhile it will be imperative for
the back end of the defense to make sure to play the receivers tightly
and to take away the soft spots. Brady, by the way, has thrown at least
one touchdown pass in his last 23 straight games, a Patriots franchise
Giants offensive line vs. Patriots defensive front
-- The Patriots pack a lot of beef up front with the 6-2, 325-lb. Vince Wilfork, who is extremely athletic; and the 6-6, 350-lb. DT Albert Haynesworth when they mix in their 4-3 defensive front. The Giants
offensive interior linemen -- Gs David Diehl and Chris Snee -- are
going to have their hands full. At center, New York could be without
starter David Baas, who is trying to overcome a knee injury sustained
last week. If Baas can't go, Kevin Boothe will get the call, and will
probably require some help blocking against the Patriots' huge
The Patriots haven't made any roster moves yet,
but something could be in the works depending on what happens with
Julian Edelman's sexual assault case.
At the very least, a suspension could be in order,
which would free up a roster spot for either a street free agent or an
internal promotion from the practice squad.
The one position to keep an eye on is the wide
receiver spot. The Patriots want to get Taylor Price more involved with
the offense, and that could come at Chad Ochocinco's expense. Ochocinco
has not developed any rhythm with Tom Brady and it remains to be seen
how much more time they'll give him to figure it out.
--WR Taylor Price should become the target of more
looks from Tom Brady considering offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien
wants to get him more involved in the offense.
--RB Danny Woodhead appears to be a pretty solid
bet to return kickoffs again this week. Woodhead has been given that
role on special teams while his role in the running game has diminished.
--RB Stevan Ridley has disappeared from the
running game after a strong start. Part of last week's lack of
protection had to do with the score, but it's worth nothing Ridley had
zero carries and wasn't targeted once in the passing game.
--QB Tom Brady currently has an NFL record of 31
consecutive wins as a starter in the regular season at home. The last
time the Patriots lost a regular-season home game in which Brady
started was on Nov. 12, 2006 against the New York Jets.
--S James Ihedigbo started last week alongside
Patrick Chung, but the Patriots still couldn't slow down TE Heath Miller over the middle or make any impact defensively. Ihedigbo's
playing time might soon be limited.
--WR Wes Welker did not practice Wednesday due to
a neck injury. No word yet on Welker's status moving forward, but this
will be worth monitoring.
--OL Sebastian Vollmer returned to the lineup last
week, but was limited in practice Wednesday due to his back injury.
This is more than likely precautionary.
--RB Kevin Faulk was limited in practice Wednesday
after playing his first game of the season Sunday. Like Vollmer, the
Patriots are likely taking it slow with Faulk to avoid a relapse with
--DL Shaun Ellis was limited in Wednesday's
practice with a rib injury. He'll be a game-time decision Sunday.
--RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been limited due to
a toe injury, but should be available for Sunday's game.
This week won't be any easy one for the Patriots'
secondary. Giants QB Eli Manning is having a big year in large part
because he's cut down on the mistakes and costly interceptions.
Manning was at his best against Philadelphia, but
looked equally sharp Sunday in a comeback win over the winless
Dolphins. With Hakeem Nicks and Ahmad Bradshaw possibly limited due to
injuries, Manning might not have as many weapons to work with.
However, given Heath Miller's success last week
against the Patriots' secondary, expect Manning to look to his own
tight end, Jake Ballard, who, despite occasional problems with dropping
the ball, has become a fairly reliable target.
This will be a big test for the secondary and a
big test for Brady, too, who will have to deal with emerging CB Corey
Webster. The offensive line needs to contain this Giants' pass rush; if
they're successful, the secondary will be susceptible to big plays.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Patriots S Patrick Chung vs. Giants TE Jake
Ballard. Chung seems to be the focus each week, but after the Patriots
failed to slow down Heath Miller this past Sunday, the Giants would be
foolish to not let Ballard loose over the middle. Until someone on this
defense slows down an opposing tight end, this will be a matchup
begging to be exploited.
Giants C Kevin Boothe vs. Patriots NT
Vince Wilfork. New York's starting center David Baas been ruled out for
Sunday. Baas has had a solid year in his first season with the Giants
and Boothe has filled in for him earlier this season (vs Seahawks Oct.
9). Wilfork has been equally stout up front. The Patriots,
however, have been getting torched up the middle by opposing running
backs. The Giants will try to exploit this, but it depends on who wins
the battle at the line of scrimmage.
- Patriots Game Thread
Defense? Blame Belichick
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