Game Preview: Giants vs. Denver

I am probably in the minority here, but I’m sick of the “Manning Bowl.”

Seriously, I never got what the big deal is. It’s not as if Eli is directly facing his brother on the other side of the ball. It’s also not as if Eli’s offense has to outwit Peyton’s offense.

I get it that there hasn’t been a case where two brothers who were quarterbacks haven’t had their teams square off against each other in the NFL, but so what?

Where was all the hype when say Tiki Barber’s Giants faced Ronde Barber’s Bucs, a matchup in which the two brothers were truly facing off against each other since one played offense and the other played defense.

With that said, the Giants need to be concerned about avoiding their first 0-2 start since 2007.

THE SERIES
This will be the 11th regular-season meeting between the two teams. The winner will take a 6-5 advantage.

The Giants are 4-1 in games in which they’ve played the host in the series, and they are 1-0 against Denver in the postseason play, a 39-20 win in Super Bowl XXI.

INJURY IMPACT

New York Giants
Out: Tackle David Diehl (thumb) and tight end Adrien Robinson (foot).

Questionable: Cornerback Prince Amukamara (concussion); defensive end Damontre Moore (shoulder), and safety Antrel Rolle (groin).

Probable: Center David Baas (knee), running back Da’Rel Scott (knee).

Injury notes: The return of Baas should result in Kevin Boothe  returning to left guard and James Brewer going back to the bench, where he’ll be the first man off if injury should hit.

It would be surprising if Rolle doesn’t play on Sunday, but something to watch will be how fluid he is in his movement. It would also be surprising if Amukamara doesn’t play after passing the concussion protocol.

Don’t expect Moore, the rookie, to be active as with all the time he’s missed, he would probably have to go through a couple of weeks of full practices to get back on the field, assuming his injury isn’t more serious than what’s been described publicly.

Denver Broncos
Out: CB Champ Bailey (foot), TE Joel Dressen (knee).

Doubtful: RB C.J. Anderson (knee)

Questionable: CB Omar Bolden (shoulder), G Chris Kuper (ankle)

Probable: DE Robert Ayers (Achilles), T Ryan Clady (shoulder), WR Eric Decker (shoulder), WR Trindon Holliday (knee), S Duke Ihenacho (thigh), WR Wes Welker (ankle), LB Wesley Woodyard (ankle)

KEYS TO GIANTS VICTORY
Key #1. Hit Home with the four-man rush
If you’re looking for the Giants to do a lot of blitzing in this game, you’re going to be disappointed. Peyton Manning is one of a handful of quarterbacks who, if you bring the heat, he’ll make you pay dearly.

Instead, the Giants four-man front will need to get it done as far as getting Manning to throw the ball before he’s ready. If the Giants can do that and if the coverage guys  fulfill the next key I’m about to mention, they stand a chance. If the front four doesn’t at least get pressure on Manning and he has time to scan the field, he’s going to eventually find someone to throw the ball to because  he’s just that good (understatement, right?)

Key #2. Do not give up space to the receivers.
If I’m defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, I flood the passing zones and instruct my coverage guys to be careful not to give up any space to the receivers, as the second that happens, you can be sure that Manning is going to see it and target that receiver.

This strategy likely means we’ll be seeing a lot of the nickel (which would take some of the sting out of the projected loss of Connor at middle linebacker). So expect to see a lot of Jacquian Williams in the field this week.

Terrell Thomas will go against Wes Welker in the slot, as Perry Fewell confirmed. Thomas has all but erased any concerns there might have been about his knee, and I think lining a more aggressive corner over Welker in the slot will help neutralize the threat the receiver poses. Thomas is not afraid to get physical against receivers and if he can harass Welker all day long, that will remove a target for Manning.

Key #3.  Find offensive balance
I found it a tad odd last week that the Giants, who were never really out of the game despite trailing Dallas all night long, bailed on the running game as early as they did. Perhaps part of that was due to David Wilson’s fumbling issues and the uncertainty of what they’d get from Da’Rel Scott.

Perhaps part of it was also due to fullback Henry Hynoski looking so rusty and the offensive line looking out of sync, that the coaches decided to voluntarily make themselves one-dimensional and go with the strength of their offense, which is the passing game.

Whatever it was, the balance needs to return. Yes the Broncos defensive front is banged up. Yes, they are missing linebacker Von Miller. And yes, they’ll probably be without cornerback Champ Bailey. These are all factors that would seem to make the idea of going back to a pass heavy offense very appealing for offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride.

GIANT CONCERN
Although I have no doubts about Antrel Rolle (groin) playing on Sunday, I think the Giants are playing with fire here regarding the numbers at safety. While I realize that both Aaron Ross and Terrell Thomas can play the position in a pinch and that Cooper Taylor is on board, I just fear that the Giants are robbing Peter to pay Paul and that this practice is ultimately going to come back to haunt them at some point.

MISCELLANEOUS STAT OF THE WEEK
If the Giants defeat Denver in Week 2 at MetLife Stadium, it will be new York’s 50th win in home openers. Had the Giants defeated the Cowboys last week on the road, and if they defeat Denver at home, they would have reached 50 wins in home openers and road openers, a feat that has not yet been accomplished.

 

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