For the first time since the Super Bowl that shall not be mentioned here on FoxboroBlog.com, the New England Patriots (5-1) try to bounce back after their loss to the Steelers last week against the New York Giants. All the talk from the offseason about this game centers around New York’s QB Eli Manning calling himself one of the “elite” quarterbacks in the game.
This year, Eli has played like an elite quarterback considering he only has five interceptions on the season. New York, under head coach Tom Coughlin, has been a team that is known for playing towards the level of their competition (Ex: Beating the Eagles, but then losing to the Seahawks). Their team has also been injury plagued the whole season. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw, wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, Defensive End Jason Pierre-Paul, and center David Boss could all miss the game due to injury.
Here are three keys to today’s game in Foxboro:
Webster’s Book of Interceptions: If the pass rush is hindered severely by the loss of Pierre-Paul, the Giants will need to get excellent play out of the secondary. If you are looking at who will guard Wes Welker, the Giants don’t even know that will be yet. Their best cornerback due to the injury of Terrelle Thomas in the preseason is Corey Webster. Webster is known in New York for having the interception of Brett Favre in OT of the 2007 NFC Championship Game to set up the game-winning field goal. I look for the man with three interceptions on the season to cover Deion Branch in this game, which will be crucial for third down situations. He even won the Buffalo game with his INT of Ryan Fitzpatrick in the fourth quarter.
Cruz’n It Along: The Giants might not have their big deep threat Hakeem Nicks for this game as we mentioned earlier, but against New England’s 32nd ranked pass defense. There is Mario Manningham and even tight end Jake Ballard who can play a factor, but I want to focus on Victor Cruz. Cruz has become the young, emerging deep threat for New York catching 28 receptions for 497 yards and four touchdowns. He had his moment in the sun in the 2010 preseason, but now he has become one of Eli’s favorite targets. With the way Devin McCourty has been covering, Cruz can probably have 100 yards and a TD in this game.
Law of Averages: You might be wondering why I named this key law of averages. Well, if you checked out my new radio show on Blog Talk Radio called Kickin’ It with Keeler, you would know why. Anyway, the reason is because its like gravity, what goes up must come down. For Eli, eventually he is going to turn back into the old interception throwing Manning. He hasn’t thrown an interception since he threw three last month against the Seahawks, when he threw three. I look for Manning to have one or two interceptions that change the course of this game because the Patriots’ defense when they rarely are on, always finds a way to force the big turnover.
PREDICTION: BB does not only stand for Bill Belichick, but it also stands for bounce back! The Patriots are angry and want to avenge both the loss last week and the Super Bowl from five years ago. The Giants are banged up in a lot of areas and as good as Eli Manning has been, I don’t think he can play a perfect game on the road with the lack of game changers they will have on offense. Also, keep an eye on the Patriots using the run game more with BenJarvus Green-Ellis since New York gave up 100+ yards rushing to Reggie Bush of all people last week. Brady bounces back and the defense forces some big turnovers as their own statement.