Nov 282014
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (November 23, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants at Jacksonville Jaguars, November 30, 2014

Before December, the Giants have been officially from playoff contention. It is the third season in a row, and fifth time in six years, the Giants will not be in the playoffs. The remaining five games are now more about preparing for 2015.

FOUR DOWNS:

First Down
What does Odell Beckham Jr. do for an encore?
It was the catch that broke twitter as Odell Beckham Jr. dove backwards and pulled in the uncatchable with three fingers. So, what’s he do for an encore? Despite missing the first six games of the season, Beckham is closing in on 1,000 yards receiving and making general manager Jerry Reese look very smart for drafting the rookie with the No. 12 pick int he draft this year.

Second Down
Can Perry Fewell save his job?
There’s a good chance nothing can save Fewell’s job as the Giants defense, even with its additions, is 31st in the NFL. Last week’s game-winning drive by the Dallas Cowboys was filled with questionable calls from Fewell and even bigger questions as to the players he chose to put on the field. Can Fewell salvage something, anything, these last five games to show he can still be a solid defensive coordinator in the NFL?

Third Down
Will Damontre Moore play more?
The New York Giants are in desperate need of a pass rusher. Arguably the team’s most talented continues to sit on the sideline. With the team officially eliminated from the playoffs with the Detroit Lions victory over the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving, there’s nothing to lose by playing Moore every snap. Mathias Kiwanuka has struggled this year, Moore hasn’t been given the chance to. Will the defensive coaches put the second-year pro on the field?

Fourth Down
How will the Giants play against Jacksonville?
The New York Giants got through the easy portion of their schedule with victories over the “bad” teams in the NFL. After going winless against the good teams, how will New York now play against the one-win Jaguars? There’s nothing to play for anymore for the Giants, will they play down the Jaguars?

BREAKING DOWN JACKSONVILLE:

OFFENSE – by Connor Hughes
Strength?
With Maurice Jones-Drew in Oakland, Denard Robinson has been a pleasant surprise for the Jacksonville Jaguars on offense. Robinson has rushed for 508 yards this season and four touchdowns. He’s averaging 4.5 yards per carry.

Weakness?
Blake Bortles had a nice preseason for the Jaguars. Blake Bortles has not had a nice regular season for the Jaguars. Since being handed the starting quarterback job back Sepember 21, Bortles has thrown just eight touchdowns to a league-leading 15 interceptions. Bortles has thrown an interception in every game he’s played and multiple interceptions in five of nine starts. The rookie is taking his lumps and the Giants secondary should be able to take advantage.

DEFENSEby Eric Kennedy
Strength?
Despite the fact that the Jaguars are 30th in defense, they can rush the passer. Jacksonville is third in the NFL in sacks with 33. And 14.5 of those sacks have come from the interior defensive line. The defense of the Jaguars is also extremely tough in the red zone, allowing an NFL low 39 percent conversion rate.

Weakness?
The Jacksonville secondary is not very good. Not only are the Jaguars 27th in pass defense but secondary only has two interceptions on the season (three others by non-defensive backs).

SPECIAL TEAMS – by Eric Kennedy

Jordan Todman leads the NFL with 23 kickoff returns of 20 or more yards and his 26.3-yard average is sixth in the league.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Eli Manningby Connor Hughes
Eli Manning has been under fire the last two games as the quarterback has been one of the reasons the Giants have lost each. Had it not been for five interceptions versus the San Francisco 49ers, and an overthrow to Preston Parker against Dallas, there’s a chance New York sits better than 3-8. Manning has always been a quarterback that puts his numbers aside and takes chances when things start looking bad. Things are now looking bad, Manning could look to start forcing the issue.

Against Jacksonville, Manning should be able to find the same success he had earlier in the season. Or, things continue to spiral down.

New York Giants Offensive Line – by Eric Kennedy
As noted above, the Jaguars can rush the passer, statistically better than the 49ers and Cowboys who gave New York’s line problems. The Giants offensive line needs to protect Eli to allow him time to get the ball to downfield targets who should be able to exploit a pretty bad secondary. Also of note, the Jaguars are 28th in run defense. New York’s ground game has been anemic for six games. It’s time to turn that around.

FROM THE COACHES’ MOUTH:

Tom Coughlin – “I worry that we’re not winning the games that were the close games. I worry that we put ourselves in position to score and we don’t score, and we don’t win. One week, it’s score and the next week, it’s stopping them…There is no doubt that (the team almost waits for something to go wrong). Why would we have the ball first-and-goal at the four (against the 49ers) and not score?…(Against the Cowboys), they’ve got to go 80 yards. We have eliminated getting beaten by a field goal. They’re got to score a touchdown. They’ve got to go 80 yards and they’ve got to score a touchdown. Why would that not be a challenge?”

Gus Bradley – “I think their skill positons, their receiving corps, tight end, and Eli Manning, I think they are very talented on the perimeter. Obviously with Odell Beckham Jr., he has kind of made a name for himself the last five games. We really liked him coming out in the draft, as did many teams.”

FINAL WORD:

(by Connor Hughes) The Giants aren’t a very good team right now, but they’re much better than the Jacksonville Jaguars. Truthfully, I believe it will take New York making all the wrong mistakes to even give Jacksonville a chance, and even then New York could probably still pull out a win. The Giants offensive line should be able to control the line of scrimmage which in turn will open up running lanes. If the Giants can establish a rushing attack, that then makes the passing game more effective. I believe they’ll get both going against Jacksonville. Giants 24 – Jaguars 14.

(by Eric Kennedy) The Jaguars may be 1-10 but they continue to play hard and many of their games against far better teams have been very competitive, including the Colts last week. For weeks, some of the Giants players have been saying they could still make the playoffs. Well, officially that pipe dream has ended. Will the team come into this game with the proper frame of mind with reality finally hitting them in the face? I think Perry Fewell’s defense is simply just bad and the defensive players uninspired. I also worry about Eli against this pass rush. Jaguars 20 – Giants 3.

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Connor Hughes/BBI

Connor Hughes has been working in both the broadcasting and journalism fields for the last seven years. His work has been heard on WMCX, WBZC and Lenape District Television, while read on the pages of The Star-Ledger and The Burlington County Times. Connor can be reached via email ([email protected]) or on twitter (@Connor_J_Hughes)

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