After finishing the first half of the season 6-2 and at the top of the NFC, consecutive losses to division rivals Dallas and Philadelphia have put the New York Giants in hot water. New York is now 6-4, currently on the outside looking in in terms of the playoff picture, and worst of all – have been decimated by injuries on the offensive side of the ball.
New York is in a position where they need to win at least two out of the next three games (emphasis on the words at least) to stay in the playoff hunt before matchups with Green Bay and Philadelphia – in which they will get some of their playmakers back on the offensive side of the football. That all starts this Sunday as they host the 6-4 Jacksonville Jaguars.
GIANTS KEYS TO VICTORY
Contain Maurice Jones-Drew
The number one focus for the Giants in this game has to be keeping Jones-Drew in check. He is the single biggest threat on the Jaguars offense, both as a runner and receiver out of the backfield. Giants defensive backs will need to be aggressive in run support, as keeping him under control will be an eleven man job on Sunday. Jones-Drew is extremely dangerous on screen passes and with the ball in open space, and staying disciplined will be key for the Giants defensive front seven.
Win the turnover battle
The Giants are without Hakeem Nicks, Steve Smith, and at least two offensive lineman for this game. They absolutely can not afford to turn the football over the way they have this season in this game – they simply don't have the firepower to overcome it. Eli Manning's number one focus has to be taking care of the football on Sunday, and Tom Coughlin has already sent a message to Ahmad Bradshaw, as Brandon Jacobs will get the start on Sunday due to Bradshaw's consistent fumbling issues. If the Giants take care of the football on Sunday, they have a very good chance to finish the day at 7-4, even with this shell of their starting offensive lineup.
Stack the box, play physical on defense
Maurice Jones-Drew is on a tear, and the Giants will not be in position to win this game if he gets going early. The Giants front seven has to be focused on #32, and will certainly need physical safeties Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips at their best in run support. Expect the Giants to drop extra defenders into the box and force David Garrard to make plays to get his offense on the board. The one thing this defense knows it can't do is let Jones-Drew beat them.
Work the short passing game early
New York needs to get in rhythm with this make-shift offensive group, and the best way to take care of the football and build confidence for your offense is to move the chains with a methodical passing game. The Jaguars aren't a very good tackling team in the secondary, and screens and the quick passing game could prove very effective for the Giants on Sunday. Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw should be utilized as pass-catchers, and Mario Manningham is extremely dangerous after the catch – expect him to see some opportunities on bubble screens and underneath routes.
Bring heavy pressure on defense
The Giants have to be aggressive on defense in every aspect of this game. David Garrard is a mistake-prone quarterback in the face of the blitz, and knocking him out of his comfort zone could create a lot of opportunities for big plays for this Giants defense. The Giants did a good job taking away the big passes downfield from the Philadelphia Eagles by forcing Michael Vick to get the football out of his hands quickly, and will need to do the same against the Jaguars – who do have some downfield threats in the passing game, as well as tight end Marcedes Lewis who has been a big weapon for David Garrard this season.
BIG GAME FOR..
TE Kevin Boss
With the Giants reeling at wide receiver, Kevin Boss immediately moves to the top of the list of players that will need to step up this weekend. The big, athletic tight end will need to be at the top of his game, as he will be a primary option on third down and the red zone. Boss has been a consistent and reliable player for this Giants team since being drafted, and you can expect the Giants to be very comfortable with giving him an increased role in this game.
This Giants defense is one of the better units in football – and they will be asked to carry this team over the next 2-3 weeks. This is a confident, aggressive group that will certainly be up to the challenge. If the Giants can take care of the football on offense, and avoid repeatedly putting their defense in bad positions against the Jaguars – the Giants will win this game. That's what it comes down to.
The Giants know how critical this stretch is, starting with this football game. Expect them to come out swinging.
Giants 23, Jaguars 13Ahmad Bradshaw, Antrel Rolle, Eli Manning, Football, Game Preview, Jacksonville, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kevin Boss, New York, New York Giants, NFC
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