Going into Week Four of NFL action, the New York Giants continue to ride the soft part of their schedule. However, playing the Chiefs in Kansas City can hardly be claimed easy, considering the crowd that invades Arrowhead Stadium every Sunday.
On the field, though, the Chiefs have a 0-3 record so far in 2009, showing that the changes made by the brass this past offseason will have growing pains.
The Giants, on the other hand, are proving on a weekly basis that they are Super Bowl contenders. With a 3-0 record, Big Blue is flashing great balance offensively, hile proving the quality of their depth on defense.
On another good note, the injury report on the Giants roster in finally beginning to clear up, and this game marks the return of several players, among them wideouts Domenik Hixon and Hakeem Nicks, and also CBs Aaron Ross and Kevin Dockery.
Continuing to preview the Giants games weekly, here is my view of what lies ahead of the G-Men on Sunday.
New York Giants @ Kansas City Chiefs—October 4
The Kansas City Chiefs went through several changes in the past offseason.
However, even though the addition of a new General Manager, a new Head Coach, and the trade for a new quarterback point out to a better future as the Chiefs team develops, one of the main issues regarding their roster was left unaddressed.
While worried about the lack of a decent pass rush (10 sacks in 2008), and the major doubts surrounding the quarterback position, the team’s front office failed to make any relevant moves to bolster the offensive line.
This leads the Giants to their Task One: Oppress the Weak O-Line. Despite the fact that the Giants defensive line is currently facing injuries to Justin Tuck and Chris Canty, the lack of quality in the Chiefs’ o-line is a glaring hole to be explored.
This offensive line has already allowed eight sacks in three games this season, and the fact that their starting quarterback, Matt Cassel, has the tendency to hold the ball too long does not help the guys up front a lot.
Adding up, there is the fact the Giants defense failed to post a sack in the last two weeks and are now hungry for some quarterback blood. Look for Osi Umenyora to try everything he knows to try and bend second-year OT Branden Albert.
Switching to the offensive side of the ball, we reach Task Two: Fly Air Manning. The Kansas City defense, albeit allowing an average of 362 yards per game, have been fairly good against the run.
By this fact alone, I believe that they will stack the line, and try to prevent the Giants bruising running game to make any damage. Additionally, the fact that Ahmad Bradshaw is hurt may influence them to do just that.
This is why the Giants should let Manning spread the ball around early and often. Eli has been on fire this season, playing pitch and catch with his young toys, and making defenses look silly while at it.
Also, by establishing the pass first, the Giants force the Chiefs to back their safeties up, and this may lead to the desired balance the Giants offense always seeks. Besides, by making some plays early, Big Blue may take the Arrowhead crowd off the picture.
Addressing the intangibles, we hit the Recurrent Task Three: Keep the Focus. The Giants head into a similar situation as they did last week in Tampa Bay.
They face a winless team, with a rookie head coach, a new quarterback in town, and everyone extremely hungry for a win at home in front of their fans. This is why the Giants need to keep their focus on never taking anything for granted.
Upsets happen every week in the NFL, and there is no reason to believe that one is not possible to take place in this game. Thus, repeating myself from last week, “too much focus can never hurt”.
Changing the direction completely, I urge to Task Four: No Hurry with the Returning Players. Tom Coughlin stated this week that the Giants would “spoon feed” Aaron Ross and Kevin Dockery into playing action.
This should be the approach with all injured players, as it is still week four, and there are some very difficult matchups ahead of us further in the season.
With Eli Manning’s already huge, and yet still increasing, influence on this team’s identity, it is hard to see this Giants team losing focus. Eli’s “aw shucks” personality is really something admirable, as he faces every week with the exact same approach.
When asked if the approach of a 3-0 team facing a 0-3 team changes, Eli responded: “It is the same approach every week. It doesn't change by what your record is or who you are playing. You have to go in there and play your best. We know we have to have a great game plan and we have to be focused, and have a great week of practice and go in there and be ready to play.”
This is why I don’t see the Giants team losing focus. So, rolling on all cylinders, the Giants are very likely to take control of the battle in the trenches, resulting in having a lot more time of possession than the opposition.
With Kansas City focused on stopping the run and making Manning win the with his arm, the Chiefs will be burned by Big Blue’s young receivers until they start to respect them, and then Brandon Jacobs will put the game out.
On the other side of the ball, I don’t see Matt Cassel being able to do much with the amount of pressure he is going to face. The fact that his primary target, Dwayne Bowe, is hurt doesn’t help either.
No disrespect for the Chiefs’ team, or fans, but they are in rebuilding mode, while the Giants are on the pace of another playoff season. If Manning can continue to lead the Giants with this rhythm, there are few chances of losing this game.