This week Patriots Insider collaberated with The Giants Beat and came up with five questions for each team, questions that will answer who has the advantage on Sunday. Here are the questions that Giants Beat writer Joshua Cohen Fyffe had for us this week.
1) Very unfortunate news broke this week about Dion Lewis being out for the season. Throughout Brady’s career he has had a receiving back involved in his offense, from Shane Vereen to Kevin Faulk; who is going to step up in Lewis’ absence going forward or are the Patriots going to adapt their offense and put a larger emphasis on a different position?
CS- The loss of Lewis is significant, but the Patriots held on to two pass-catching backs in Lewis and James White. White will assume the role, and although he definitely isn't as explosive as Lewis, he is a good player that should be able to do the job and make some big plays in the process. Brandon Bolden will also get some reps and will make his fair share of catches out of the backfield; Bolden is tough to deal with when he gets in open space. Brady throws to the open receiver, and many times it turns out to be the back, but Lewis's injury isn't going to change the way New England plays offense.
2) What’s the biggest match-up that the Patriots need to take advantage of on the offensive side of the ball in order to come out victorious this Sunday?
CS- I don't see any specific matchup that stands out Sunday, other than how the Giants plan on handling Gronkowski and Edelman. Again, Brady is going to look for the open man, and the Giants pass defense that is allowing 307.8 yards per game is going to have their hands full with a mix of weapons that has been almost impossible to defend. The loss of Lewis will hurt New England, but they didn't have Lewis last year and the offense was still prolific because of Brady, Gronkowski, and Edelman. With that trio going strong, I don't see how the Giants slow them down.
3) There is obviously a tense history between these two franchises, have the previous two Super Bowl defeats been stressed for motivation at all throughout the week? Or is it just like another game?
CS- They'll never admit it, but it is absolutely a big game for this franchise. Let's not forget that the Giants came close to ending the Patriots perfect season during the final game of the 2007 season, and truth be told, that Giants have the Patriots number. New England is the more talented team this time around, but the Giants simply aren't scared of them, and the Patriots know it. The Patriots are dinged up, but I expect to see them play well and should be fired up for a game against their nemesis. Patriots vs. Giants will never be "just another game" again; there is just too much history.
4) Who has been the Patriots defensive MVP this year and who needs to have a big game this week on the defensive side of the ball?
CS- Well, unfortunately for New England linebacker Jamie Collins has been their defensive MVP, but he is out with a virus that is costing him his second straight game. Chandler Jones has also been excellent, leading the NFL in sacks and helping the Patriots overcome some of their coverage deficiencies. Losing Darrelle Revis has clearly hurt, but the secondary has been better than most would expect and the defense overall has been pretty good. The Giants better be ready for a much different Patriots front with Dominique Easley, Malcom Brown, Alan Branch, Rob Ninkovich, and the aforementioned Jones. New addition Jabaal Sheard is questionable, but if he does play that is just another weapon to add to this excellent defensive front.
5) What is your score prediction for Sunday’s match-up?
CS- I expect the Patriots to extend their winning streak to nine and beat the Giants this time around. Yes, the Patriots are banged up, but they are healthy enough to put an excellent offense, defense, and special teams units on the field and their depth will help them overcome Eli and the Giants.
FINAL SCORE- Patriots 38, Giants 23
Big thanks to Rick Laughland, Joshua Cohen Fyffe and The Giants Beat for providing an inside look at the team that gives the Patriots more trouble than any other team.
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