Can the Giants run and stop the run? Can the patchwork OL keep pressure off Eli Manning today? Can the Giants defense get to David Gerrard and collapse the pocket? These are all obviously things to watch today. Check out the details after the jump…
• Offensive Line duties. For the Giants to win this game, they must control the flow of the game right from the beginning. On offense, that means keeping pressure off Eli Manning and getting into a rythem with his receivers early with short, crisp passes and well designed screens to keep the Jaguars off balance. If Will Beatty and Kevin Boothe can hold their own on the left side of the line, I have no doubt Rich Seubert, Chris Snee, and Kareem McKenzie can do their thing on the right. Pass blocking has been tremendous recently, not allowing a sack in the last few games. However, Shawn Andrews was a big, athletic reason as to why that stat line has been so good. Beatty and Boothe need to get it together and put together a clean game today at home, and get some momentum built up for the rest of the way. There’s no telling when Diehl, OHara, and Andrews will come back… the Giants need to show they have depth in talent as well as bodies here today.
• Mario Manningham. How will he handle the increased workload and the pressure of being the teams #1 receiver? To move the chains, he’ll need to get past the markers today and then cut, not the other way around. Let’s see a big day from Super Mario to give this offense some confidence heading into a tough finishing schedule with many question marks at WR. Derek Hagan needs to get more aggressive, nice TD catch last week in David Tyree like fashion but he needs to hold off corners if they are going to try to jam him. Hopefully one more week of practice gave him some of that juice back. Will Kevin Boss, Travis Beckum, and Bear Pascoe please stand up? And can Gilbride and Eli call their numbers?
• Run game. We discussed earlier this week how Rich Seubert may in fact be the key to the Giants running game, as Chris Snee mentioned earlier in the season half-jokingly. But at backup center now, he’s not pulling to the point of attack like he was for the first half of the season. The Giants run game has suffered since his role was changed, I don’t thing that is a coincidence. So I look for the Giants to try something different today — I look for some runs between the tackles with Brandon Jacobs starting early, and then once the defensive front 7 has been banged up sufficiently and the Giants line is in sync, Ahmad Bradshaw can come in and try some misdirection plays for big gains. This was the formula last year, but the difference now is Jacobs is healthy and has shown some backbone in getting short yardage plays consistently — plowing through the line straight ahead when asked. Execution is going to be key today, but hanging with the run game at home and controlling the pace of play will keep the Jaguars dangerous offense of the field for much of the game. I’m sitting Jones-Drew in fantasy for the first time and I’m playing Jacobs by the way, if that’s any indication for how I think today will shake out.
• Run stopping. Priority #1 today, that goes without question. I think the Giants are up to the challenge to stop MJD on the ground – I think he goes for 20 carries and 60 yards today with a decent performance from the Giants in stopping a dangerous ground attack.
• Pressure. I liked what I saw from the Giants front 4 last week, particularly Justin Tuck who had 3 sacks and a forced fumble on one of the deadliest QBs in the league. I think Perry Fewell and his defense will dial up a similar game plan today, try to control the pocket and collapse it when they can — I think Tuck, Osi and perhaps even JPP have a big day today to get the crowd into it early.
• Unknowns. Will the Giants running game see a resurgence with Jacobs starting? Will Ahmad Bradshaw fumble another ball even with his limited carries? Will Eli Manning take control of his offense and clean up his turnovers? Will the Giants get a positive turnover ratio this game?
27-17 Giants. For the Giants it’s gut check time. For me it’s crystal ball time.
I think the Giants figure out some things in how to spread the ball around to their various weapons, not just the receivers. I think Kevin Boss is going to be targeted by the Jaguars as a threat, Travis Beckum can be the more nimble receiver anyway — he gets another TD this afternoon. Brandon Jacobs scores his first TD as a starter in 2010, Ahmad Bradshaw tacks on a third down scamper toward the end of the game as well to keep it out of reach of the Jaguars. Close game until the end, Giant prevail.