The New York Giants travel to Texas on Sunday to face the Houston Texans. As I’ve done since the season started, I want to address this week’s Key Matchup. There are actually two pieces to this week’s Key Matchup that will make the game: Houston’s secondary vs. New York’s wide receivers and New York’s secondary vs. Houston’s banged up wide receivers.
Let’s address the Houston Texans secondary and New York’s wide receives first. Houston’s overall defense allows 408 yards per game, 337.8 of which are passing yards while only 70.3 are rushing yards. Right defensive end Mario Williams is questionable with a groin injury, so if Big Blue can get their running game going early, the passing game will fall into place. The New York Giants average 235.5 passing yards per game, and with everyone in the passing game at 100%, they should be able to get at least that, if not more.
Big Blue is coming off of a huge and much needed win against the Chicago Bears, in which they recorded 183 passing yards and 189 rushing yards against a tough Bears defense. This week they face a weaker Houston defense and have the potential for much higher numbers. This needs to be the weekend that Big Blue’s offense really steps it up and shows what they can do. Without Mario Williams, the Houston pass rush is hugely diminished. If Williams plays, he won’t be as affective with that injury. Eli Manning has to make good decisions this week when throwing to Hakeem Nicks, Steve Smith and Kevin Boss. The Texans secondary can be exploited and Big Blue needs to take advantage of that early and often.
The second match-up I want to address is the Giants secondary against the Texans offense. This match-up is opposite of the first match-up, in that the Giants secondary is much stronger than the Texans. Plus, they have the advantage of Houston’s injury situation. Wide receivers Andre Johnson (ankle) and Jacoby Jones (calf) are both questionable and game-time decisions on Sunday. Johnson was limited in practice on Friday while Jones was held out. Houston averages 243.5 passing yards per game, while New York allows just 139.8 yards per game. The Giants secondary has been considered a weak point on the defense, but this week it could very well be a strong point. If Houston is without both Johnson and Jones, they’ll rely on veteran Kevin Walter to step in and help out. Houston tight end Owen Daniels (hamstring) is also listed as questionable for this week’s game, but it looks like he’ll be on the field when the whistle blows.
The Giants defense looks stronger each game. I haven’t decided if they finally understand the new scheme Perry Fewell introduced this year, or if they just decided to start playing. Regardless, they’ve looked better in each game and this one will be no different. I expect Justin Tuck, Barry Cofield, Osi Umenyiora and Jonathan Goff to put some serious pressure on quarterback Matt Schaub. If they can do that, Schaub will be forced into making decisions he won’t like, opening up space for Deon Grant and Antrel Rolle to grab some picks.
Don’t get me wrong here, Houston has the second ranked offense in the league and they’re not going to be easy to defend. Getting through that line to put pressure on Schaub will be no easy task, but as banged up as the receivers are, the Giants have the upper-hand in that match-up. They still have to find a way to contain Arian Foster since the Texans will look to use him more if Johnson and Jones can’t go. But, this defense definitely deserves more credit than they’ve been given this season. I believe that, tomorrow, they may finally convince everyone of that. They allow a mere 257 yards per game. That’s good enough for 7th in overall defense in the NFL, one spot ahead of the touted Pittsburgh Steelers.
The bottom line is this: The Giants defense needs to stop the pass and the offense needs to throw the ball. It’s time for Eli Manning to step up and lead the team down the field.Andre Johnson, Antrel Rolle, Arian Foster, Barry Cofield, Chicago Bears, Deon Grant, Hakeem Nicks, Houston Texans, Jacoby Jones, Jonathan Goff, Justin Tuck, Kevin Boss, Mario Williams, Matt Schaub, New York Giants, Osi Umenyiora, Owen Daniels, Perry Fewell, Pittsburgh Steelers, Steve Smith
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