Turnovers are pivotal in every game, and never more so than today. The Buffalo Bills are opportunistic and aggressive on defense in forcing turnovers, which is no small part in the reason the Bills are 4-1. The Bills defense and special teams have taken the ball away 16-times, with 12 interceptions and four fumble recoveries. Most important, they have scored points after those turnovers. 13-times after turnovers, they’ve scored a touchdown or a field goal. This had led to the Bills scoring more points, year to date than the
high octane New England Patriots offense, as well as outpacing the Giants by 38 points. Not an insignificant margin and in large part due to turnovers. Now the Giants are 6th in the league in turnovers with a plus 2 turnover/takeaway so it will come down to who does a better job at protecting the ball. Beware of the ever present, ball hawking George Wilson, the sixth year vet from Arkansas. An incidental tipped ball here or a fumbled ball there may be just what is needed to shift the scales of victory to one team or the other. Denying the Bills turnovers may be just the ingredient necessary to lasso them.
The vertical game. The Giants will have their full complement of receivers today as they look to find seams and separation from the Bills secondary and their 27th ranked pass defense. Coupled with a somewhat porous defensive backfield, the Bills are equally inept at pressuring the quarterback with only 4 sacks in 5 games. Of course we all know the Giants have a tendency of turning mediocre players into Canton, Ohio legends, but even that may be a stretch as the Bills have shown so little on their defensive front. Eli and company should have time and space to execute the passing game. Extending the defense with down-field looks of 15-20 yards will spread the field and could even assist in the running game. Jake Ballard may have a signature game for the middle and deep middle of the field may be open all day.
Third down conversions. The Giants are currently sporting a 29 % efficiency in third down conversions, which is anything but efficient, earning themselves an embarrassing 31st seed in a 32 team league. Sustaining drives and keeping the defense fresh, particularly this week with an undermanned roster due in part to Jimmy Kennedy’s suspension for PED’s, is a crucial element in the Giant’s game plan for victory. Allowing the Bill’s Fred “Action” Jackson excess opportunities because the Giants offense cannot stay on the field is a recipe for failure. Coupled with the impressive and ever maturing Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Bison’s will stomp you if given the chance. Success or failure on 3rd downs is directly related to first down. Gaining less than 3 yards per first down is not going to cut it and will leave the Giants vulnerable to turnovers. No, for the Giants to keep in check the Bills greatest weapon, turnovers, they must execute on first down. Perhaps the Giants will throw a little more on first down in an effort to avoid third and long situations. Of course the Bills are not exactly the paragon of third down efficiency, weighing in rather anemic 39%. This is where the formidable Giants defensive front may have a significant impact in the outcome of the game. All things being equal, it may be the team that shines on third downs may be the victor.