Prior to their week one loss to the Dallas Cowboys, defensive lineman Mathias Kiwanuka said it was as if the playoffs were beginning for the New York Giants. Luckily for them that wasn't really the case or they'd have been eliminated after only one game. And while it wasn't necessarily a must win, that embarrassing 36-31 loss puts much more emphasis on how important Sunday's game versus the Denver Broncos is.
Since 1990, only 22 teams have made the playoffs after starting 0-2. And over the course of the last four seasons, not a single team has (none have even finished above .500). In fact, the last team to do it was the New York Football Giants in 2007. As we well know, they also went on to win the Super Bowl that year.
But they were the exception to the rule and not the rule itself. As such, Sunday's game becomes as near a "must win" as any week two game could possibly be.
Disrupt Peyton Manning with continuous pressure
If Manning is given time, it doesn't matter how good a secondary a team has, he will carve it up. The Giants have absolutely no choice but to hit Peyton in the mouth early and often. They need to get him moving around, disrupt his rhythm and force him to make errant throws. If they don't, he may throw for seven touchdowns in consecutive weeks.
Hold onto the damn ball
It's hard to believe "don't turn the ball over" would be part of a gameplan worth mentioning, but after six turnovers in their week one loss, it's about as pivotal as anything else the team will be doing on Sunday. And when you consider Peyton Manning is the opposing quarterback, there's extra emphasis on not turning the ball over. Should the Giants, once again, come out of the game with a negative turnover ratio, it's almost a near certainty it will be accompanied with another loss.
Establish the run, and don't quit on it
The Giants ran the ball only 14 times for 50 yards (3.6 ypc) last Sunday, and while that may not have been the only reason they lost, it was a major factor in time of possession. Sure, much of that game was also spent trying to catch up after falling behind early, but there's really no excuse to run only 14 times over the course of four quarters. They can't afford to have a repeated performance on Sunday, and certainly can't afford to lose the time of possession battle so drastically against a Peyton Manning-led offense. It is imperative they establish a ground game, stick with it and keep Eli's older brother off of the field.
Adam Gase vs. Perry Fewell
Pretending this game is about anything other than Peyton Manning would be foolish. As such, the real key matchup boils down to offensive coordinator Adam Gase versus defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. Can Gase keep Peyton upright and provide him the freedom to attack the Giants' secondary consistently? Can Fewell design a scheme that keeps pressure on Manning and allows his linebackers and secondary to remain in good position? The Broncos can beat you with short and quick passes, as well as deep throws, so the challenge facing Fewell is complex. Time to get creative.
BIG GAME ALERT
Running back, Brandon Jacobs
People are going to look at this and scratch their head. How could a guy who hasn't played in a year, and will likely be the No. 3 running back on Sunday, possibly have a game big enough worth predicting? Well, it's actually pretty simple. Jacobs is going to be more motivated to play hard and make an impact than anyone else on the field this weekend. He is thrilled to be back in New York and wants to prove to the entire league — and especially the San Francisco 49ers — that he's not done yet. And if he only gets five carries the entire game, you can bet he's going to make each one of them count. Expect at least one big play and one touchdown from B-Jac.
There was something in the air a week ago that just seemed to indicate the Giants were going to come up short against the Dallas Cowboys. It wasn't at all logical considering they've owned that team at AT&T Stadium and appeared hungry for a W, but it was there. The same can be said for this game, just going in the other direction. The Giants are 0-2 in Manning Bowl's and after a seven touchdown performance in week one, everyone is once again on the Peyton bandwagon. Very few are giving the Giants even a slight chance to win this game and that is exactly why, in typical Giants fashion, they will.
Giants 27, Broncos 24
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