By Eric from BigBlueInteractive.com
Approach to the Game – New York Giants at New Orleans Saints, November 28, 2011: The Giants are half-a-game out of first place in the NFC East with six games to play. But for them to safely win the division, they probably will have to go 10-6. 9-7 could get it done, but I wouldn’t count on that scenario. That means they will have to go 4-2 in the last six games of the season.
In my my mind, there are two realistic ways to get to the 10-6 mark:
- If the Giants lose their next two games, as expected, they will have to go 4-0 in their last four games of the season. That means a 4-0 run after going losing four in a row.
- They will have to steal one game from the Saints or Packers and then go 3-1 down the stretch.
Either scenario is possible, but for this to happen, the Giants have to play more like they did against the New England Patriots three weeks ago and less like they did against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.
No one is giving the Giants a chance. It’s on the road in a hostile environment, where for some reason, the Giants play better. I love these kind of games. Don’t be shocked if the Giants pull off the upset.
Giants on Defense: In terms of yards, the Saints have the #1 offense in the NFL (#2 in terms of points). They have the #1 passing offense and #13 rushing offense. They have a quarterback who through 10 games has already thrown for 3,326 yards and 23 touchdowns (that’s a very good 16-game season for most quarterbacks). The Saints are also loaded with receiving weapons: TE Jimmy Graham (62 catches, 873 yards, 6 touchdowns), HB Darren Sproles (60 catches, 448 yards, 3 touchdowns), WR Marques Colston (42 catches, 589 yards, 3 touchdowns), WR Lance Moore (34 catches 386 yards, 3 touchdowns), HB Pierre Thomas (32 catches, 251 yards, 1 touchdown), WR Robert Meachem (29 catches, 359 yards, 4 touchdowns), WR Devery Henderson (18 catches, 318 yards, 2 touchdowns), etc., etc.
As you can see, the the Saints and QB Drew Brees not only put up a lot of numbers, they spread the football around, making their offense incredibly difficult to defend. Stop one or two guys, and one or two other guys bite you in the ass. That said, the two real match-up problems for the Giants are Graham at tight end and Sproles at halfback. Given the tremendously inexperienced state of the Giants’ linebacking corps (minus Jon Goff and Michael Boley), you got to figure Sean Payton is going to call a ton of short passes against the underneath coverage to exploit this weakness. This will also help to minimize the Giants’ pass rush.
I would think the Giants are going to play a lot of 5- and 6- defensive back coverages with Deon Grant and Prince Amukamara being on the field as much if not more than guys like Mark Herzlich and Greg Jones. This is a game where playing Jacquian Williams more than Mathias Kiwanuka makes more sense to me from a coverage (not experience) point-of-view. The problem is the Saints could cross the Giants up and run the ball like the Colts did against them last year. Folks concentrate on the Saints’ passing game, but the Saints can hurt you with the run. No one back stands out statistically, but as a group, the Saints have three guys who have rush for almost 350 yards each (Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas, and Darren Sproles). Still, I’d load up against the pass, and take my chances.
The Giants desperately need their pass rush, which has largely disappeared the last two weeks, to re-emerge as a deadly and consistent force. If Justin Tuck is not effective, get him off the field and start JPP. Osi Umenyiora has to start playing better against quality opponents and not just the lesser teams. The Giants need Linval Joseph, Chris Canty, Jimmy Kennedy, and Rocky Bernard to apply more immediate pressure up the middle. Get after Brees. Make him uncomfortable. He does throw a lot of interceptions. Get turnovers and do something with those turnovers – take it to the house. Make game changing plays!
The way the defense will have to approach this game – and the following game against the Packers – is that every opposing possession is a game in itself. Play all out to force a punt like this is the last drive in the Super Bowl. The Saints and Packers will only have so many possessions each game. Each forced punt or turnover is pure gold and a victory in itself. Then concentrate on the next possession. Tunnel vision…one possession at a time!
Giants on Offense: Eli Manning can’t do it by himself. The lack of support he received from his offensive teammates last week was unexpected and incredibly embarrassing for every other man on offense without the #10 on his jersey. Dropped passes, no running game, no blocking. It doesn’t matter who is calling the plays if you don’t execute. If this group has any pride, they rebound strongly in support of their quarterback. If they don’t, then this group is not deserving of post-season glory.
I know Tom Coughlin wants to get the Giants’ running game going. I think it will be better this week. For one, it can’t be worse (29 rushing yards), but I do think David Diehl at left tackle and Kevin Boothe at left guard will give the Giants more of a smash-mouth line. And Chris Snee should be over his food poisoning. David Baas and Kareem McKenzie must play better however. And so do Ballard and Pascoe as blockers. That all said, the strength of this offense is obviously Eli Manning and the passing game. If the Giants are going to steal a win, they need to put the onus (or omus as John Madden would say) Eli and his receivers. Sink or swim with your best. The Giants are not going to beat the Saints with a heavy dose of Brandon Jacobs and D.J. Ware, but they have a chance with a heavy dose of Eli, Nicks, Cruz, Ballard, and Barden (it looks like Manningham may be out).
New Orleans is 20th in defense (the Giants are 21st in comparison) in terms of yards allowed. The Saints are 19th in defense against the pass and 19th against the run. Gregg Williams is the defensive coordinator of the Saints. He’s all about pressure and bringing the blitz from all angles. Eli, his blockers, and his receivers much make the Saints pay for this aggressiveness with big plays in the passing game and touchdowns. Eli is pretty good at burning aggressive defenses, but his blockers (tight ends and backs too) and receivers have to help him out. I have a feeling we might see a big game from Barden.
Giants on Special Teams: Darren Sproles is the man on both punt and kickoff returns. He has a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown this year and has a long kickoff return of 57 yards. He’s shifty and fast.