NEPD Staff Writer: Brian Delabarrera
Today I take a look at some of the key matchups in today’s game between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. Luckily, none of them involve catching something on a helmet.
Brady vs. Manning (2011) –
It’s pretty surprising how similar the two quarterbacks’ stats are this season, with similar numbers in TDs (18, 13), INTs (8, 5), yards (2361, 2127), and sacks (14, 15).
Unlike previous years, Eli Manning has be delivering clutch performances and minimizing his turnovers to keep New York in the race for the NFC East. Another thing to note is the Giant’s rushing offense isn’t offering any kind of support. Usually ranked in the top half of the NFL, New York’s ground attack is the 3rd worst in 2011.
Even though Eli is going to have less help running the ball, his pass protection with Jacobs looks to be a little more solid as he tries to get the ball into the hands of Victor Cruz, Mario Manningham, and TE Jake Ballard. The lack of star power may hurt the Giants chances, but confident play from Manning will make this a close game. The Patriots need second-year CB Devin McCourty to show up, play big, and shut down his side of the field. One take-away is all the difference you need in a shootout.
For both teams it will be about the opposing pressure. The Patriots could really use some additional help from LB Jerod Mayo bringing the rush with Brace, Wilfork, and Guyton. Manning is a QB that is very affected by his surroundings, when defenses show no mercy and high levels of energy – he is easily intimidated in to making bad throws. The crowd will be a huge catalyst here too. Whatever it takes to get the defense moving at full speed.
On the other side of the of things, OL Dan Connolly and Logan Mankins need to hold off New Yorks pass rush to allow Brady to work the field. Guys like Justin Tuck and Osi Umeniyora have a knack for hitting Tom Brady and the Patriots do not want that to happen at all if they can help it.
DE Jason Pierre-Paul has been dealing with a concussion this week and could see limited time on the field. However, if this guys gets it going out there, it’s going to be bad news for New England – especially if Sebastian Vollmer (questionable) plays anything like he did last weekend.
Tom Brady will be looking to make a statement against another 5-2 team after losing to one a week earlier – to prove that his team can topple the other highly-ranked squads in the league. For Brady it is going to be all about Aaron Hernandez. The 22-year-old tight end will be celebrating his birthday in Gillette Staduim wearing #81 and utilizing his mismatched size and speed to his advantage.
Injury Report vs Injury Report
Between the Giants and the Patriots there are 12 players listed as questionable: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Shaun Ellis, Wes Welker, and NY CB Prince Amukamara to note a few key players.
For the Patriots, this is where the game will be be won or lost. With guys like Green-Ellis, Faulk, and Vollmer playing healthily and in good form, New England’s offense should move the ball much easier. On defense, guys like Mayo, Haynesworth, and Josh Barrett could be the difference in keeping the Giants in check.
The Patriots will need to muster up a consistent pressure to throw at Manning and the offense. If they ease up, I suspect this newer version of Eli Manning to take advantage of the secondary even without Hakeem Nicks.
The Giants are only really worrying about their defense right now since their two offensive stars have pretty much been ruled out. Amukamara would be a better bet for NY against WRs like Chad OchoCinco and Taylor Price (should he really see more time this week) due to his 6-foot stature. If he doesn’t play, the Patriots will have a better chance of having Brady connect with the young Price, provided his hamstring injury doesn’t keep him off the field.
Giants WR Victor Cruz vs Patriots Secondary –
Cruz has had some remarkably athletic plays in his sophomore season. There have also been some instances where he has crumbled and come up short for Giants’ fans. If he can come into Foxboro with confidence and keep his mistakes to a minimum, Victor could send the Patriots spiraling downward in the AFC.