The Giants defense will have reason to celebrate on Sunday afternoon against the Chiefs.
This is the easiest week to make bold game predictions that favor the New York Giants in at least a decade.
One of the definitions of the word bold as an adjective is “beyond the usual limits of conventional thought or action.” That is the definition we will be using for these predictions. After falling to 0-3 by losing to the previously winless Carolina Panthers, 38-0, saying "Big Blue" will do anything positive in a game is certainly well beyond conventional thinking.
Surprisingly, however, there is some solid evidence that the Giants can do several things well against the Kansas City Chiefs, even though Kansas City is undefeated and playing in front of their raucous home fans.
Will these bold predictions lead to a win for New York, which is certainly an unconventional opinion in and of its self?
Find out in the following slides, ordered from least bold to most bold.
The Giants defense has only three sacks in three games, which is surprising, given the talent, albeit aging in certain spots, on the defensive line.
Big Blue may not have the ability to harass quarterbacks on a weekly basis, as they did in their 2007 and 2011 Super Bowl seasons, but a big sack performance once every four weeks is certainly to be expected.
Right on cue, this should be the week they are able to do it.
For starters, Kansas City has surrendered a healthy 10 sacks this season. Even more promising, all of these sacks occurred in the last two weeks. The Dallas Cowboys took down Alex Smith four times in Week 2 and the Philadelphia Eagles topped their NFC East rivals with six sacks of the Chiefs quarterback last Thursday night.
Speaking of Smith getting sacked, this is a play the Giants have not been foreign to in recent years. They have sacked the nine-year veteran nine times in their last three meetings against him, dating back to the 2011 regular season, when he was a member of the San Francisco 49ers.
Expect Jason Pierre-Paul, who should be rounding into form after offseason back surgery, Mathias Kiwanuka and Justin Tuck to lead a vintage Big Blue pass rush that pummels one of their favorite targets.
It is sad that this is a bold prediction, but there is no escaping reality. Eli Manning has been an interception waiting to happen this season, with eight through three games, which easily leads all NFL quarterbacks.
The good news is, he is headed in the right direction. The 32-year-old only had one last week, and it came in the second half.
That means he went a whole half without throwing an interception. Sure, he spent most of the first 30 minutes of the game on his back, as the Panthers sacked him six times, but no need to quibble with details.
Joking aside, there are a few reasons to believe Manning will not play catch with the Chiefs defense this week.
First, Kansas City has already had a game this season where they failed to pick off a pass, and it came in their only home game, against the Dallas Cowboys. Better yet, Dallas quarterback Tony Romo threw the ball a robust 42 times in that game and still stayed out of trouble.
Also, believe it or not, Manning doesn’t throw an interception every game. Last season, he threw up a zero in this category seven times. In 2011, he had eight games, including the playoffs, without a pick.
On Sunday, he’ll make sure all his passes are completed to players with “NY” on their helmet.
Two bold predictions in one slide! Don’t say I never gave you anything.
David Wilson rushing for over 100 yards, and breaking at least one long run, is bolder than the first two predictions simply because of how bad a job the Giants offense, as a whole, has done run blocking this season. They have consistently been dominated at the point of attack and have looked overmatched on an inordinate amount of plays.
This is largely the reason why New York is dead last in the NFL with 44.3 rushing yards per game on a miniscule 2.7 yards per carry.
Worse still, the offensive line is severely banged up, with starting left guard Chris Snee and starting center David Baas both hurt, according to a report by Ebenezer Samuel of the New York Daily News. They join right tackle David Diehl, who is likely out another game or two following surgery on his thumb in August.
Also, starting fullback Henry Hynoski is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury he suffered against the Panthers, according to a report by Conor Orr of The Star-Ledger.
The reason, though, that Wilson will have a successful day on the ground comes down to speed. The 22-year-old has it, and the Chiefs defense doesn’t appear to handle it very well.
Kansas City allowed 253 yards combined on only 25 carries to the Eagles duo of LeSean McCoy and Michael Vick. In addition, each had a scamper over 40 yards in the game.
While both of these players are certainly more accomplished runners than Wilson, they are arguably not as explosive. When Wilson gets into the open field, he is simply electric.
Why may the Chiefs have a problem against this type of back?
It could be due to a set of linebackers that's average stopping the run, based on run ratings by Pro Football Focus (subscription required), with 2012 Pro Bowler Derrick Johnson the lone exception.
Johnson has an average run rating of 1.5 this season, but his 11.1 mark last season proves his worth as a run-stopper. Akeem Jordan, Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, however, are all under a one rating this season, and only Hali was above zero in 2012, at 4.2.
With the Giants run-blocking woes, Wilson may not have a consistent day on Sunday, but he’ll exploit the chances he gets when he does enter the second level of the Chiefs defense.
The Giants were 9-7 last year, and the Chiefs were 2-14, but even though the new season is only three games old, a lot has changed.
Barring something unforeseen, Kansas City will enter the game as a solid favorite, according to sportsbook.com, to beat New York. This is not a scenario you could have imagined at the end of last season, but is certainly logical now.
With that said, the Giants will win this game.
The main reason is that, strictly from a talent standpoint, the Giants are better than their record, and the Chiefs are worse than theirs. It is not even a stretch to say that New York is more talented than Kansas City—period. They have a better quarterback, more explosive weapons on offense and a defense that can match the Chiefs in ability, if not consistency.
Also, it’s hard to imagine that Big Blue won’t show some pride after their embarrassing performance against Carolina. Many of the players on this team have a Super Bowl ring, if not two.
Given these factors, this game should, at the very least, be highly competitive.
One other thing to consider—upsets are commonplace in the NFL. Look at last week as a good example. The Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts and Cleveland Browns, among others, were all expected to lose, yet they came out on top against seemingly better opponents.
In Week 4, the perennially contending Giants will, surprisingly, be a surprise winner.
This final prediction is easily the boldest because returning a kickoff for a touchdown is simply a rarity in the NFL—especially since kickoffs were moved back to the 35-yard line prior to the 2011 season.
Since the change, there have only been 23 kickoff return touchdowns in 35 regular-season games. This same total was accomplished in just the 2010 campaign, playoffs excluded.
David Wilson owns one of those coveted touchdowns, against the New Orleans Saints in last season. It wasn’t a fluke, either, as he finished sixth in the NFL, with a 26.9 return average on 57 attempts.
His average is only 24.2 this season, but with only six returns, the sample size is too small to think that this skill has eroded for Wilson.
He should have some opportunities, since Kansas City, according to Team Rankings, is only getting touchbacks on 64.71 percent of their kickoffs, which is only 18th-best in the NFL.
They have also been generous, allowing 26.9 yards per return.
At the very least, Wilson should be able to return a kickoff into Chiefs territory.