After doubling their scoring total last game from the previous week’s contest and with their young quarterback coming off his best outing of the season, the Raiders' offense is finding its groove.
Oh...what’s that, you say? The Raiders did indeed double their offensive production, but it only took six points to do it?
What about the Giants' defense? It's one of the best?
Well shit, this preview isn’t going to be as much fun to write as I had originally thought.
OK, so there is very little going right for the Raiders at the moment and very little going wrong for the Giants. I feel like Bob Uecker, during the start of the Indians season in the movie Major League, drinking Jack Daniels and tossing aside the miserable stats because no one cares.
All indications point to a blowout. Maybe the Raiders will thrive in this role, but, then again, probably not. Let’s examine why.
Breaking Down New York
The Giants' Offense
The Giants have an unbelievably balanced offensive attack. They have thrown the ball 130 times while running it 129. The Giants are ranked eighth in passing yards and sixth in rushing yards.
The Giants offensive success starts with an outstanding offensive line. The running backs are averaging 4.6 yards per carry, and the team has only allowed three sacks so far this season.
The consistent offensive line play has allowed the Giants to average 5.9 yards per offensive play and 7.7 yards per pass attempt (which ranks them second in the NFL).
No less than 77 percent of the Giants' receptions have come by three men: wide receivers Steve Smith and Mario Manningham and tight end Kevin Boss. All but one of the Giants' offensive touchdowns have come via the passing attack.
The big question mark heading into this weekend’s game for the Giants offense is "Will Eli Manning play?" He has not practiced this week, but has also said this would not deter him from playing.
Manning is hitting on 63 percent of his passes and has been intercepted twice this season. Overall, the Giants have been protecting the ball—they have four turnovers this season.
The Giants' Defense
The Giants' defense is ranked seventh in points allowed and second in yards allowed. It has amassed eight turnovers—five by interception, three by fumble.
This defense is forcing turnovers and generating pressure on the quarterbacks. It has eight sacks on the season, with all but one coming from a defensive lineman. With one of the most dominant pass rushing defensive lines in recent history, the Giants are afforded the luxury of keeping seven men in coverage and run support.
The defense is allowing a league-worst 5.5 yards per carry. This number is a bit misleading.
The majority of the rushing damage was against the Cowboys, who averaged 8.6 yards per carry on their way to 251 yards on the day. Last week, for instance, the Chiefs' running backs averaged three yards per carry, gaining 86 yards.
The Giants' pass D has been nothing short of amazing. The Giants are allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 51 percent of their passes for a league-leading 3.8 yards per pass attempt.
Now that we have gotten to know the Giants a bit, lets take a look at the...
The Raiders O vs. the Giants D
All signs point to a horrendously long day for the Silver and Black. The Raiders' offensive line is injury-depleted; only two starters will be playing their position.
The offensive line was embarrassed against a struggling Texan defensive line last week and is now getting thrown into the lions den, or should I say Giants den.
Tom Cable has spent a lot of time in practice this week working with the line himself in hopes of squeezing every drop of potential in his rag-tag group.
Look for Cable to try and get the running game going early and to give the guys up front some confidence.
When the Raiders do have to pass, it could be an absolute nightmare. Russell was pounded last week and is likely facing an even bigger beating this week.
When he is able to get a pass off, it will likely be a struggle to find a white jersey that is not eclipsed by blue. The Giants' pass D is stingy and unlikely to get burned by the Raiders' young, mistake-prone receivers, or the concussed Zach Miller.
It is hard to see how the Raiders will be able to get consecutive first downs in this game.
The Giants O vs. the Raiders D
This side of the ball is going to feature the most intriguing matchup: the Raiders D-line vs. the Giants O-line. The Raiders D-line is coming off a strong showing against the Texans and is having a solid year.
DE Greg Ellis knows the Giants well and had two sacks the last time he played them.
If the Raiders have any hope of slowing the Giants' running game, the line is going to have to get a body or two on the human semi known as Brandon Jacobs. Otherwise, the Raiders' undersized linebackers are in for a long day of knee-diving.
With Manning’s bum wheel, the Giants are going to give the Raiders a heavy dose of the run game if he plays or not. Combine Manning's health with the fact that they will not need to take any unnecessary risks, as the Raiders offense will not be a threat to score.
When the Giants do pass, look for a heavy dose of play action. The Raiders' secondary can man up on the Giants' receivers. Smith and Manningham are having breakout years, but Nnamdi Asomugha and Chris Johnson should be able to run with them.
The Raiders have also been solid in containing team's tight ends, which is another big part of the Giants' passing attack. Look for heavy doses of the run and probably a big play action pass play or two.
The Raiders' defense has been inconsistent. When not blowing assignments, the defense looks solid, but it is surrendering too many big plays with out-of-position defenders.
If the Raiders are going to have any chance, Cable is going to have to elicit the greatest game each of his O-lineman has ever played. They are going to have to resurrect a dead running game and, somehow, someway, the passing game is going to have to make a play.
If they can keep this game close and force the Giants into throwing the ball—and if David Carr is at the helm instead of Manning...and if the D-line can beat a good O-line and continue to get pressure—then they will have a chance to generate a few turnovers.
That is too many "ifs" for me.
Giants 24, Raiders 5
(Janikowski is going to kick a 75-yard field goal, followed by the Giants kneeling it in the end zone as time expires after Lechler has pinned them on their half-yard line with an 89-yard punt.)