And now, the march to the playoffs begin. The Giants begin the brutal part of their schedule today against the Patriots. How will they respond to the challenge?
Out: T Stacy Andrews (back), C David Baas (knee), RB Ahmad Bradshaw (foot), WR Hakeem Nicks (hamstring)
Questionable: CB Prince Amukamara (foot), FB Henry Hynoski (neck), DE Jason Pierre-Paul (neck)
Probable: TE Bear Pascoe (finger), DE Justin Tuck (groin, back), DE Osi Umenyiora (knee, shoulder)
Out: LB Dane Fletcher (thumb)
Questionable: S Josh Barrett (thumb), DE Shaun Ellis (rib), RB Kevin Faulk (knee), RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (toe), DT Albert Haynesworth (back), TE Aaron Hernandez (knee), LB Jerod Mayo (knee), T Sebastian Vollmer (back), WR Wes Welker (neck)
Probable: G Donald Thomas (personal)
The Giants are banged up on offense, starting with Hakeem Nicks, who is out, along with Bradshaw and David Baas. So, they are without their starting wide receiver, starting running back and starting center. Ouch. The big loss is Nicks. Nicks’ best attribute is that he takes up double teams. Yes, Victor Cruz has to make the catches, but there’s a reason why Eli is targeting him so much. Nicks makes other guys more open. Mario Manningham doesn’t have that ability. Now, luckily, the Patriots pass defense is just awful. Patriots defense is kind of awful. So, I think if Manningham and Cruz can run some good routes, hold onto the ball, the Giants should be okay. This will be a big test for Eli. He’s been playing great football. How is he going to respond in a tough environment, without two of your best players out? We’ll see. If he can play well, the Giants have a good shot.
The Patriots have an explosive offense, but I think the Giants defense can be explosive. Like in the Super Bowl, it all starts with the front four. JPP or no JPP, the line has to get after Brady early and often. The Giants can beat any team–any team–if their pass rush is on. A great pass rush can mask any other problems in your defense. The Giants have some problems in the back 7. But, if the Giants can get after Brady, they will be good. Webster will have to come up big against Welker. No easy task. Gronkowski and Hernandez are huge matchup problems for the Giants. You would think Jaicquian Williams would get some rubber. If Prince Amukamara can come back, that would help, because Rolle can slide down and cover the tight ends more. The pass rush will help to negate the influence of Gronkowski and Hernandez. But it has to be on. It has to be fiery. It has to be like the Eagles game. Have to really get after Brady.
The Patriots offense is stellar. Their defense? Not so much. They could outscore teams, but in the playoffs, are they going to be able to stop good teams? Like if New England went up against Green Bay, there’s no way they would be able to stop that passing attack. They are depleted at corner. They don’t have that same outside pass rushing threat that they used to. There’s talent, but this is not a typical Bill Belichick defense. This game could be a shootout. I think the Giants will struggle against the Patriots offense, unless their pass rush is ferocious. But if JPP is out, that becomes harder. As good as Webster is, he hasn’t faced a receiver like Welker yet. What I mean by that is that he hasn’t faced someone who is so quick, and get open so well. He hasn’t faced someone who is so on the same page as his QB. So that’s going to be tough. And the Giants have trouble covering tight ends, let alone two, fast, hybrid tight ends. That’s going to be tough. I think the Giants, even without Nicks and Bradshaw, can put up points. The Pats just can’t stop people. It’s just going to come down to who can stop the other team more.
This is a tough one. I do not like the matchup for the Giants defense. I think it’s an issue. That said, I think the Giants can put up points. I think Nicks being out hurts, maybe not so much this week, but still hurts. The Giants won’t be able to set up the run, meaning they won’t have the ball for too long, meaning the Pats will have the ball. Not good. Playing in New England is tough too. FINAL SCORE: Patriots 28, Giants 24
As always, GiantsGab has got you covered for the game. Follow our Twitter page, as we’ll be tweeting during the game. Check back at halftime for our feature “Halftime Thoughts”, where we break down the first half, and tell you what to expect in the second. Hang out after the game for all the post game info you need. GiantsGab is Giants Central!