Patriots

Patriots

The Giants memorably messed up the pursuit of perfection of one Patriots team. Can they do it again?

The effort to get to 9-0 in the middle of November is quite a bit different than trying to get to 19-0 in early February. But the two main protagonists for the Giants – coach and quarterback – are still in place for the Jints, Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning.

This year’s model is currently pretty average. New York is 5-4 and coming off a stretch where they played three-out-of-four on the road. On Sunday, the Giants beat Tampa 32-18. That came a week after they lost to New Orleans 52-49 in the Superdome.

In other words – the Giants aren’t a lockdown defense, but they can get up and down the field. They are putting up 27.4 points per game even though they are 24th in rushing yards per game (96.8) and 14th in passing yards per game (253).

The strength is the wide receivers. Odell Beckham Jr. and Reuben Randle have 96 catches for 1,523 yards and 10 touchdowns between them. What’s really impressive is how hot Manning’s been in trying to get them the football.

In the four games prior to the win over Tampa, Manning was 26 for 34 throwing to Beckham and 17 for 26 going to Randle. Sunday, he was 9 for 17 going to Beckham and 5 for 5 targeting Randle. Those are high accuracy numbers, especially to Beckham who is an outside receiver most of the time.  

This will be the game where the Patriots secondary is really tested by a pair of high-end wideouts with a quarterback capable of getting them the ball.  The best test previous to this was the Jets.

Defensively, quarterbacks are finding the challenge of the New York defense as difficult as shooting fish in a barrel. The Giants have nine sacks this year. By comparison, Chandler Jones has 9.5 on his own. No pressure means problems most weeks. Against the Patriots, it’s suicidal. Not surprisingly, opposing quarterbacks have already thrown for 2,832 yards against the Giants.

And the collection of quarterbacks New York’s seen? In order: Tony Romo, Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins, Tyrod Taylor, Colin Kaepernick, Sam Bradford, Matt Cassel, Drew Brees and Jameis Winston. I mean, there’s some capable guys in there, but on pace to allow 5,600 yards through the air?

That’s bad business.

We’ve walked out on the limb and predicted beatdowns against the Giants before, though and found that they were not forthcoming. So we’ll reserve some judgment this time. The Coughlin-Steve Spagnuolo coaching pair deserves that respect. But this game could get fun.