How Good Is the New York Giants' Defense?

Andrew LaBarberaContributor IOctober 13, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 16:  Corey Webster #23 of the New York Giants in action against the Baltimore Ravens during their game on November 16, 2008 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

It's week six and the Giants are first in the NFL in total defense and second in the NFL in scoring defense (Broncos are first). They have several starters and role players that are injured or have missed time including Kenny Philips, Kevin Dockery, Michael Boley, Chris Canty, Bryan Kehl, Clint Sintim, and Aaron Ross (who hasn't played a snap all season) amongst others. Yet, despite these injuries, their defense has been stout and even dominant at times.

Let's take a deeper look into some key numbers:

The Giants are first in the NFL in yards against averaging only 210.6 yards against per games. That leads the NFL by over 42 yards per game. That is mind boggling. It leads the NFL not only this year, but this decade. Wow.

The Giants allow only 104.8 yards per game in the air, also leading the NFL. It leads the NFL by over 60 yards per game. That's right, 60. Basically, the G-Men could let up 400 yards passing to Drew Brees this week and they'd still be 10 yards per game better than the second place Carolina Panthers in that department. Again, wow.

The Giants are tied for second in the NFL allowing 14.2 points per game. This number also leads the NFC. They average over 30 points per game and boast the biggest scoring differential in the NFL. Not as much so, but still wow.

They allow 3.74 yards per pass play. Just to put that into perspective every single team in the NFL averages well above that, including the Raiders and JaMarcus Russell at 3.93 yards per pass play. I don't know statistically, but I would guess that's on pace to be the best number this decade and possibly of all time.

Other numbers that are still impressive: They rank tied for first in the NFL in forced fumbles, tied for fourth in sacks, tied for third in defensive TDs (and have had two called back because the refs blew the call and blew the play dead too early), they are eighth in interceptions, no QB has had a QB rating of over 100 against them this season, and they are just above average at fifteenth in rush yards per game against.

Ok, I know what you're all thinking, they haven't played any good offenses aside from the Cowboys (who are ranked No. 1 in the NFL in total yardage by the way). That's a valid argument, but let's look deeper into each game.


Redskins @ Giants in Week One

The Redskins average 300 total yards per game. They average 205 yards per game passing and 95 yards per game rushing. The Giants held them to 187 yards and 85 yards respectively, 72 of those yards coming on a garbage time TD drive with the game at hand. They held the Skins under average in total offense and both major categories.


Giants @ Cowboys in Week Two

The Giants got run over in this game but the pass defense played well. They gave up 251 yards on the ground and only 127 through the air. The Cowboys average 161 and 260 yards respectively for 421 yards per game overall. They held them under their overall average yardage, while in they were great in one aspect of the game (passing defense) while allowing them to go well over average in the other aspect (rushing).


Giants @ Bucs in Week Three

The Bucs average 190 passing yards per game and garner an average of 95 rushing yards per game. The giants held the Bucs to 86 yards of TOTAL offense, with 28 on the ground and 58 through the air en route to a shutout. They didn't allow a first down until late in the third quarter.

They also held them well under their average in both major statistical categories (rushing and passing).


Giants @ Chiefs in Week Four

The lowly Chiefs average only 258 yards per game (162 yards passing and 96 yards rushing per game). Those are modest numbers, and yet the G-Men still held them below average in total offense at 193 total yards, and well below average in passing yardage allowing only 88 yards.

They did allow them to gain 105 yards on the ground, but overall another above average performance by the Giants.


Raiders @ Giants in Week Five

The Raiders are widely considered as the worst team in the NFL. They put up only 10 points and 192 yards per game. Their passing game is anemic at 109 yards per game while their rushing attack is below average with 83 yards per game.

The Giants held them below average in every possible category. They held them to only seven points (which all came on a TD after a Sinorice Moss botched return).

The Giants stifled their running game allowing only 60 yards on 25 rushing attempts for a 2.4 yards per rush average. The Raiders also were only able to gain 64 yards through the air while getting sacked six times (and fumbling and losing the ball three of those times) in 19 drop backs.

Those are some impressive defensive numbers, even against the anemic offense that is the Oakland Raiders.

Well, if that's not proof that this defense is legit then I don't know what is. They have held every single opponent below their season yardage average and have only allowed an opponent to go over their average in either rushing or passing twice in 10 tries over five games.

They are scary good and they're only going to get better as they get back to being healthy. The true test lies against one of the best offenses in the NFL on the road this week at New Orleans, but if I were the Saints, I'd watch out.

This squad seems to be for real. Not only are the numbers staggering, but they're consistently great, week in and week out.