The New York Giants head into Kansas City at 0-3 and face the potential of losing complete control of their season with another loss, while the Kansas City Chiefs, at 3-0, are already in the midst of an incredible turnaround from their 2-14 season from a year ago. Led by brand new head coach and former Giants rival, Andy Reid, quarterback Alex Smith and one of the more physical defenses in the league, the Chiefs are very legitimate contenders and should not be taken lightly.
For the Giants, Sunday's game is all about regaining some form of stability, while the Chiefs look to continue their dominance of the NFC East (2-0 with wins over Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys).
Sustain drives to keep defense fresh
The New York Giants defense is tired. Exhausted, even. Through three games this season, they've been on the field for 105 minutes and 55 seconds (nearly 60% of the time). They've been forced to exert themselves far beyond their means because the offense cannot sustain drives (the Giants average less than 4.5 plays per offensive series). If they wish to come away with a victory over the 3-0 Chiefs, that will have to change. Even if the offense is coming away with the dreaded field goal, or no points at all, they need to give their defense a breather.
Don't turn the ball over
This is beginning to feel like a broken record, but there's incredible importance in the simplicity. Fundamental football is what the Giants need to return to, and that means cutting down on their league-leading number of turnovers. Especially when you consider the Chiefs have turned the ball over a grand total of zero times, while leading the NFL with a +9 turnover differential. Bottom line? Kansas City is not going to beat themselves, so the Giants can't either.
Limit Jamaal Charles
The Chiefs are averaging 127 yards on the ground per game (75 ypg for Charles), while the Giants run defense ranks 27th in the league, allowing an average of 129.3 yards per game. And although they've played better than the numbers would indicate, they'll need to slow down Charles and the Kansas City rushing attack on Sunday. If they can't, it will allow Alex Smith to do what he does best: manage games and grind down the clock.
Giants offensive line vs. Chiefs defensive line
The Giants were brutalized by the Carolina Panthers' front four a week ago, and now they'll face an even tougher from seven from the Chiefs. If they're unable to handle Dotari Poe in the middle, and Justin Pugh struggles against Justin Houston (7.5 sacks already this season), the Giants are in for a long, long day. However, if they can find a way to contain Houston (this is where the pass blocking ability of Brandon Jacobs comes into play) and prevent Poe from swallowing up inside runs, they'll put themselves in a good position to score some points.
BIG GAME ALERT
Quarterback, Eli Manning
Manning said he'd do whatever he had to in order to turn the Giants around, and he'll certainly get that chance on Sunday. With a shuffled and re-shuffled offensive line, a poor run game and receivers who lead the league in drops, Manning will likely have to make things happen himself. He's done it before — many times — and it will be an important aspect in Sunday's game. It's unfortunate that the entire offensive burden is his to shoulder, but when you're the franchise quarterback that's how things shake out. Expect a big game from Easy E.
Given the way they've played over the first three weeks, there's no reason to believe the Giants will suddenly turn it around against a team that has, out of nowhere, become one of the most talented all-around teams in the league. But losing is no longer an option. So, we're going to give them the benefit of the doubt and go with our gut that they're going to pull off an upset.
Giants 20, Chiefs 17
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