Last Sunday night the Giants felt a whole lot better about themselves after sacking Jay Cutler 87 times. Actually it was a mere dozen sacks by the Big Blue D against the shell-shocked Bears signal caller, and every one of them essential as the Giants sputtering offense was barely able to scrape a few points together to get an edge on Chicago. So while its great the Giants looked good for a change, it begs the question, can they beat an opponent without recording double digit sacks? And can they beat a more sophisticated offense?
The Jints will have an immediate opportunity to answer these questions in Houston Sunday when they take on the ZZ Tops. (Yes I’ve renamed the franchise as I find “Houston Texans” to be a redundant and meaningless nickname, almost as useless and empty as “Philadelphia Phillies.”) Houston has the NFL’s unheralded leading rusher (Arian Foster), and a powerful and diverse offensive arsenal. The Giants will not be able to score only 3 points in the first half and stay alive in this one like they did against the Bears.
Complicating matters are a slew of injuries, starting right up front on offense, where center Shaun O’Hara, who missed the last two games, still has been unable to practice this week. It looks like veteran Rich Seubert will fill in once again, with a domino effect shuffling his other linemates out of their usual positions. So the holes for the running game may be fewer and farther between, and there may not be a 100% healthy Ahmad Bradshaw to run through them. The NFC’s offensive player of the week last week has a bum ankle and has not been able to practice either.
The Giants may not be able to win this one with the same clock-crunching formula of running game and defensive dominance that they rode to victory last week. But maybe an old fashioned Texas shootout will be good for Eli and the gang. A high scoring back-and-forth pace would give Manning a chance to warm up that throwing arm of his and get comfortable with his array of receivers, some of which are brand new. When Eli gets in a rhythm his throws become more natural and instinctive, and the Giants are potentially more deadly on offense….
….if their defense can hold the game close enough, that is. There’s no progress report on the bulging cervical disk on the neck of Mathias Kiwanucka, and it looks like LB Keith Bulluck and safety Kenny Phillips will remain out. However the rest of the defense, which was more than capable to stymie Chicago, will be a confident group. They might let up a few touchdowns to the ZZ Tops, but as long as they get a few themselves it may come down to one or two stops at the end of the game that will make the difference.
Sunday will go a long way towards determining if the Giants are for real, or if last week’s domination was just a flash in the pan. Fans look ahead to Sunday with a mixture of worry and confidence…
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Written by Mark Reichman