Being shut out at home is as bad as it gets in this offense-friendly era. It’s hard to believe that a two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback can play so, so badly, but it’s happening.
Whispers of players not giving full effort on offense should help motivate this group, but those whispers can’t do anything about the dearth of talent on the offensive side of the ball.
The Lions are coming off a heart-breaking Monday night loss at home to the Ravens. They are still very much in their division race but will have to win out. The matchup of the Lions’ very aggressive front vs. the Giants’ porous offensive line is a bad one for the Giants in a season rife with similarly bad matchups.
Giants on Offense
Trying to hide the deficiencies of their offensive line is a task the Giants’ coaches face every week. The only way that the Giants can compete is to run the ball, even on third down– especially on third down as Detroit’s ultra-aggressive front will sell out to rush the passer every time.
The offense has to make Detroit pay, if that’s how they’re going to play, which we think they will.
Running the ball will also keep the ball out of the careless hands of Eli Manning. At this point, the coaches have to save Manning from himself, as he simply refuses to stop trying to make plays, regardless of the odds.
Manning’s skill position teammates also have to start stepping up to the plate. With Victor Cruz out the rest of the season, that leaves it up to a disappointing receiver crew that has hardly distinguished itself.
Jerrel Jernigan will likely get lots of attention, as last week he played with some spark and thus should be rewarded.
The other move to make is to remove Rueben Randle from punt return duties so that he can focus on his receiving game. Rookie Charles James has made some plays on specials and deserves at least a chance to show what he flashed in pre-season on returns. Perhaps with this responsibility off his plate, Randle can focus on getting open.
Andre Brown is another skill player who did not show up last week. We really expect Brown to play a lot better, as his future is on the line. He’ll be a free agent this offseason and really needs to show that he wants to stay with this team.
Hopefully, we’ll also see lots of guard Brandon Mosley and running back Michael Cox. With Peyton Hillis and James Brewer dinged up, it’s a chance for these two young players to show a bit more of what they can do.
Giants on Defense
There was nothing wrong with the defense last week. They showed up and played hard. The leadership of Tuck-Beason-Rolle is a big reason why.
Keeping these three together on their respective units for another year will not be easy, nor is it likely, but each player is proving himself a winning player.
It’s the youngsters that we’re most interested in watching. Johnathan Hankins has already proven that he belongs and deserves more snaps. Damontre Moore showed flashes last week.
Young corners Jayron Hosley and Charles James also need to see the field, though neither matches up very well with Detroit’s tall receiving corps.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is the very definition of a gunslinger, but his three interceptions contributed mightily to Detroit’s Monday night loss. Look for his coaches to scale back his offense a bit and force him to take the short stuff that this Giants’ defense is very likely to hand him.
Stafford is really dangerous throwing the ball up the seams to his huge receivers, which will really challenge safeties Rolle and, especially, Will Hill. We expect Hill to play a big role in this game.
Giants on Specials
After another solid effort last week the Giants’ special teams have finally arrived, albeit much too late to save the season. Still, this group looks like it really wants to play and Mark Herzlich continues to be its leader.
The return game hasn’t broken a single return all year. We’re guessing/hoping to see two new returners this week. With Jernigan needed on offense, Michael Cox should return kickoffs while we’re really hoping that Charles James is returning punts.
Detroit’s specials have been ordinary, but nowhere the disaster that the Giants have been. Old nemesis David Akers is a familiar name to deal with. Akers is 39 years old and shows no signs of slowing down. Kicking in a dome can extend the career of any kicker.
We think the Giants’ offense will bounce back as their collective manhood was challenged all week. Talent, however, usually wins out and this group is sorely lacking.
Meanwhile, Detroit’s strongest unit is its defensive line, so it could get ugly. How many hits will Eli Manning take? Can he avoid turnovers? Can the offense run the ball a little?
All questions with difficult answers. The Giants have a chance, but it is a slim one. This game means something to Detroit, and they’re the better team on paper.