The Giants play the Eagles tonight in a nationally televised game. The Eagles have narrowly won 2 games and lost their third. They have been a turnover machine and Vick has been horrible. The Giants on the other hand have been playing excellent football. Their offense is playing tremendously and their defense has started to gel. So why am I worried? Key Injuries and unsustainable turnover ratios.
Football is a game of matchups. The Giants passing game is led by the elite quarterback Eli Manning who is playing other worldly. I don’t expect that to stop but Hakeem Nicks was ruled out for the game with knee swelling. Yes, the Giants are deep at the position, but Nicks is their best receiver, and unlike a week ago, Ramses Barden will not sneak up on anyone, and most importantly the Eagles are great against the pass. They have a fearsome pass rush that led the league in sacks last year going against a mediocre Giants offensive line, and they have one of the NFLs best secondaries. This is a good match up for the Eagles. The Giants looked great last week without Nicks but that was with Barden going up against a rookie cornerback, not against Rodgers-Cromartie or Asomugha. This is not a battle in the Giants favor. Cruz is still a much better receiver when Nicks is on the field and attention is paid away from him. Last week without Nicks, he was held to 42 yards. Hixon and Barden will need to step up.
On defense the big concern is the loss of Holsey to a hamstring injury. I’m not afraid of Amukamara making his first NFL start, He held in well. And if Coe was available as a third corner Id probably still think we the Giants would be ok, but with both out for this week, Justin Tyron will be the third corner. The nickel back in the NFL is basically a starter. He is on the field for the majority of passing plays. A defense is only as good as its weakest link and Tyron who may not be more than 5 foot 8 is the weak link. It worries me. Having said that, there is one match up in the Giants favor. JPP and Osi will be going up a against a third string left tackle Demetress Bell. Now he did start many games for the Bills over the past few years and was given a large contract when Jason Peters when out with an injury during the off-season but he was beaten out by the mediocre King Dunlap. JPP will destroy most, but even Osi, who I think is very overrated is the type to feast on second tier talent. Lets recall his 6 sack performance against then Eagles rookie Winston Justice a few years back. If the Giants can shut down the run game
One last thing that worries me: turnover ratio. These things tend to even out and the Eagles have been horrific in this category and giants pretty good. It’s unreasonable to expect the discrepancy to be as wide. If the Giants don’t win the turnover battle today expect the Eagles to edge them. If the Giants can win that battle they should win the game.
A few interesting things to watch for: How are the carries split between incumbent starter Ahmad Bradshaw returning from injury and his replacement Andre Brown who has looked like a better version of 2008 Derrick Ward. Also –with Nicks out and Hixon returning who is the # 2 and who is the # 3 receiver. Before Nicks was ruled out I read that they were going to play Hixon at the #3 slot. I am not overreacting to one game when I say Barden deserves the spot.
When I thought Nicks and Holsey were healthy I thought this would be a big Giants win (30-17), but those injuries are big. I think the Giants can still pull it out but 24-23. If they don’t win the turnover battle all bets are off.