Arguably the NFL's most surprising player this season has been the New York Giants' Victor Cruz. His 82 receptions, over 1,500 receiving yards and nine touchdowns helped New York earn their playoff berth. The Giants need Cruz to have a major impact Sunday, but there are reasons to believe he will struggle.
San Francisco plans to match up their top coverman Carlos Rogers on Cruz. He does an excellent job shutting down receivers out of the slot. Rogers will give Cruz a really tough time, and could potentially shut the young receiver out.
Cruz is one of Eli Manning's favorite targets, but he also loves to go to Hakeem Nicks and Jake Ballard. If Cruz is heavily covered, Manning won't hesitate to move on to his other top targets. In the game against the Atlanta Falcons, Cruz was held to only two catches and 28 receiving yards, showing that he can be taken out of a game.
The San Francisco 49ers enter today's game without Ted Ginn, one of their most explosive playmakers. He played only a small role in the offense, but made major contributions on special teams. Second-year receiver Kyle Williams figures to get more touches with Ginn out of the lineup.
He will be moved into the kick return role, where he excelled at the college level. Williams also figures to get a chance to run a reverse and attack the deep part of the field. He isn't exactly a major player and could sneak past the Giants' secondary.
Cruz figures to gain a lot of attention from the 49ers defense, while Williams will be more of an afterthought. The Giants are more worried about shutting down Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree and Frank Gore. A lot of times matchups and game plans help a player have a breakout performance. Williams can expect to see single coverage and New York's weakest coverman.
I am predicting five catches, 55 yards and zero touchdowns for Cruz. Williams will have five catches, 71 yards and one touchdown. He'll also find a way to break off a big chunk of yards in the return game.