With the New York Giants Monday night game fast approaching, it is time to take a look at how the defense may perform. First, the Giants in recent years have not excelled on Monday night, however this team is different, they excelled in the Superbowl, after the bye week, and now they will do so on Monday night. I'm convinced of it, and if you don't believe me, believe in the Giants Defense.
They will be going up against a Cleveland Browns offense who ranks 32nd in the league right now with a paltry 210 yards per game and 31st in the league in points per game at only 11.5.
Match that up now against a very stout and well coached Giants defense who ranks third in the league in yards per game allowed and second in points per game allowed at 236 ypg and 12.3 points per game respectively. Paper never tells the whole tale though.
Cleveland has a very talented offensive line, highlighted by Joe Thomas. It is because of Thomas that I don't expect Mathias Kiwanuka to have a huge impact on the game. If he does have any success at all against Thomas it will be due to the fact that he has been matched up against elite LT's the whole season (Orlando Pace and Walter Jones) which should lend itself to more effectiveness against such a talent as Thomas.
In the pre-season the Giants wreaked havoc on Derek Anderson, even knocking him out of the game at one point. I wouldn't say by any measure though that this is an indication of things to come, but Anderson might want some extra padding this game.
For starters he will most likely be without one of the best TE's in the league in Kellen Winslow Jr. Winslow Jr. is a solid blocker and a comfort target in the passing game for Anderson. That is one less target the Giants need to worry about in the passing game leaving a little more room for some Spagnuolo blitz happy packages.
With Winslow Jr. out this leaves one legitimate threat in the passing game, Braylon Edwards. A tall physical and talented reciever, he will no doubt be the focal point of the Giants secondary. The Giants don't always do well either against elite wide recievers.
TJ Houshmanzadeh had a big day against the Giants this year and when it comes time to play the Cowboys and Terrell Owens, hopefully this game will help because Owens always finds a way to hurt the G-men. Regardless, Edwards will have to be stopped and should be stopped as the Giants will have the luxury to have two men on him most of the time.
While the weakness of the Giants defense, it could be argued, are the linebackers outside of Antonio Pierce, this should not be a problem this week as it hasn't been any week.
The DT duo of Cofield and Robbins will continue to control the line of scrimmage allowing Pierce to make sure everyone else is in the right place ready to fly around and make the tackles. Again, with Winslow Jr. out it takes that much more pressure off of the linebacking core.
With all of this being said, I expect two players to have big days, the first may not be much of a surprise, Justin Tuck. Kevin Shaffer, the starting RT, for the Browns is a little beaten up from what I understand, which may slow him down a little, even with TE help (backup TE help) you have to give the edge to Tuck. Not to mention I think he is due for a big game here.
The next player on my list is Kenny Phillips, whether he starts or not he will get his playing time and he will lay a big hit on Braylon Edwards at some point in this game and introduce himself to the NFL in a big way.
Derek Anderson will be having to get the ball out quickly with the Giants bringing the heat and Phillips will be right there to capitalize on it, as even Donte Stallworth has a slight Quad injury. Expect him to lay some hits, and either register a sack or interception.
Overall I see the Giants defense giving up ten points, with the attention paid to Edwards, I see one of the other receivers making the TD grab. The running game for the Browns will be virtually non-existent, Jamal Lewis looks only average this year, and not fast enough to evade the Giants blitzing schemes to get to the second level.
Many may think that all of this Giants success on defense is because of the schedule thus far, easy teams such as St. Louis. However as easy as this may have been, I think this defense is for real. They are more talented than the Superbowl defense that shut down the "greatest" offense ever and as always are extremely well coach with Spagnuolo.
He coaches to the strengths of the players and so far it has worked. They may give up a few more points per game as the tougher teams come to town, but expect the Defense to keep bringing it all season long and maybe even get better as Phillips, Kiwanuka, and Wilkinson all get more playing time and grow as players as a result.