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Cover This: Steve Smith Vs. Nnamdi Asomugha

Wes ODonnell@wesodonnellFeatured ColumnistOctober 8, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 02:  Steve Smith #12 of the New York Giants scores a touchdown as Orlando Scandrick #32 of the Dallas Cowboys defends during their game on November 2, 2008 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Week 5 approaches and the undefeated New York Giants return home for the first time in three weeks to take on a hapless Oakland Raider team with the league's lowest rated passer, JaMarcus Russell, stepping into the Meadowlands for the first time in his career.

The Raiders offense versus the Giants defense is hardly expected to be the day's showcase.

The Giants defense is ranked number one overall in the league in yards per game as well as time of possession.  The Raiders offense is ranked 32nd and 31st in those respective categories.  It is no question who should win that battle.

Eli Manning is battling a nagging injury, and while he has not definitely said he will play, he has not missed a start since he took over in '04.

The most intriguing match-up will be what the Raiders decide to do against the league's leading receiver, Steve Smith.

A guy who was consistently referred to as "the other Steve Smith" in comparison to the Carolina Panther's wide-out of the same name, has quickly filled the Plaxico Burress void that everyone considered to be the Giants' biggest weakness entering this season.

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There was never much question that Smith is a brilliant route runner, extremely good out of the slot, and almost always finds the chains on third down when Eli needs him.  

Now, his brilliance has come to the forefront of the NFL. So far this season nobody has been able to cover him en route to 34 receptions, 411 yards, and 4 touchdowns, all league highs.  

Nnamdi Asomugha, the All-Pro cornerback that dons number 21 for the Raiders, is widely considered to be one the best corners in the league, if not the best.

After his breakout season in '06 when he recorded 8 interceptions and 19 pass deflections, teams stopped throwing to him.  

The '07 and '08 seasons he recorded 2 interceptions and 16 pass deflections combined and so far this season he has not had a pick or a pass deflection.

Quite simply, when you play Asomugha, you look the other way.

Steve Smith and the Giants think otherwise and look forward to the challenge. Smith said, "We want to be one of the teams that makes plays on his side, despite (the fact) he's a great player."

Last week Asomugha and the Raiders went up against Houston's Andre Johnson, one of the top receivers in the league and held him to two catches for 66 yards, he was targeted 8 times.

The Raiders have enough faith in their starting corners' ability and speed to allow man coverage more often than not.

It is also expected to see the Raiders stack the box against the Giants vaunted run game and possibly even gear up some blitzes to get after the injured Manning.

This should make for some early one on one match-ups on the outside and give both of these players a chance to make some plays.

In a rather lopsided Week 5 match-up between two teams on opposite sides of the spectrum, Steve Smith will get a chance to show that he can beat one of the best, and become one of the best himself.

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