How things change so quickly in the NFL. Coming out of the bye, the Giants looked prime to battle their way through their final six games to a division title. Four quarters later, their backs are against the wall, and they have to face a sturdy Jets team coming off a nice win over the Dolphins.
Having Darrelle Revis on the sidelines most likely won’t hurt the Giants, but there’s a lot more to the Jets than just Revis Island, and there are a few matchups they really need to narrow in on in order to pull out a much-needed victory Sunday. I lay those matchups out here:
Jets Defensive Line vs. Giants Offensive Line
After the way the Giants’ offensive line played Sunday… oh boy. Yes, they were down three starters, and expect two back this week, but that was nothing short of a dismal performance against a defensive line that doesn’t have nearly the firepower of the Jets’. Damon Harrison has been a tremendous run stuffer in the middle, Leonard Williams is having a solid rookie campaign, and Muhammad Wilkerson is one of the top 3-4 defensive ends in football not named Watt. It’s an incredibly talented defensive front, and it leaves the Giants a lot to account for.
However, should Big Blue manage to stave off some of that front seven pressure from the Jets, it really puts the Giants in great position to win this game. Without Darrelle Revis, the Giants can really go after the team’s corners and safeties, particularly over the middle, where Beckham and Randle are very effective, as is an emerging Will Tye. And it would keep the Jets’ offense off the field more. While Gang Green doesn’t run a high-octane offense, it’s a good unit that could chew up some clock and keep the Giants out of it if they’re not scoring. But should the Giants neutralize the big three up front, it’ll be a totally different ballgame.
Chris Ivory vs. Giants Defensive Line
This matchup could be the difference in the game because once Chris Ivory gets in a rhythm, he’s really, really hard to stop.
It’s not hard to love the way Ivory runs: very powerful, quick, aggressive. Though he is yet to prove it in his first six seasons, he has the traits of a complete back. But the issue with Ivory is, like most backs, he really finds his rhythm with good game flow. If the Jets establish the run early or get a lot of big first down gains, the Giants’ defense could dig themselves in a hole they may not be able to climb out of.
It’s going to be up to Jason Pierre-Paul and co. along that defensive line to contain the edges and force Ivory into some holes that the tackles and linebackers can plug. If Ivory gets going, then he gets to turn up his wheels and bounce to the outside, it will open up the pass, and the Giants will be in for a long, harsh afternoon.
Jets Wide Receivers vs. Giants Secondary
Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker are consistent weapons. Both are number 1-type-ish of receivers, both are red zone threats, and both are having pretty nice years. Beyond their pass-catching skills though, the reason I point out this matchup is, well, not only has Brandon Marshall has burned the Giants before, but because these two are solid blockers who could really open up the run.
As I mentioned, Chris Ivory becomes most effective when he gets in a good offensive rhythm, and with that comes tough runs to the outside, where Decker and Marshall can help open up some running lanes.
Is pass-blocking the only way the Jets are going to win Sunday? No. But should they establish a solid run game and be able to attack the Giants on the outside, it will make the defense very vulnerable and increase the Jets’ chances of moving the ball downfield with some bigger-than-usual passes. And, it will keep the Giants offense off the field, only making matters worse. While both Decker and Marshall are reliable pass-catchers, it’s their run-blocking ability that may give them more opportunities to register a few receptions. Should the Giants let things get to that point, it could be a long Sunday.