Well, New England Patriot haters, you may get your wish. Eli Manning and the New York Giant offense will be the biggest test the Disciples Of The Hoodie have faced all year. This is not the Denver Broncos or the decidedly one dimensional Baltimore Ravens the Pats will be playing next Sunday. This is a balanced offensive attack, with great receivers in Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, power backs in Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs, and an elite QB in Manning. This game has the potential to be over by halftime.
Eli Manning has taken the next step and moved into the category of top QB's in the league, at least for the 2011 season. His 4,933 yards were forth best in the NFL for 2011, behind Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Matt Stafford. "Every year his stats are always comparable with the best in the league so you got to give him credit with his abilities." Pats LB Rob Ninkovitch said recently. "He's' a great quarterback and can put the ball where he wants it to be and he's dangerous so you got to make sure you have real tight coverage on the receivers and get some pressure on him."
Pats LB Jerod Mayo echoed his defensive mates thoughts. "He's playing football as good as anyone right now. It's kind of hard to fool him, per se. You just have to try to go out there and limit him, to be honest with you. The way he's playing right now, he's on fire. You just have to go out there and try to contain him." Mayo said.
Much will be made of the Giants victory over New England in Foxboro week nine. In that game, Manning led the Giants to a game deciding score late, a familiar refrain for Pats fans. The Giants are much better than the week nine squad that beat the Pats, with the addition of Nicks and Bradshaw, who were out with injuries. Mayo also addessed that drive, and how the teams are different. "These are two different teams." Mayo said "Bradshaw didn't play in that game, Nicks didn't play in that game. We didn't have a couple guys in that game. These are two different teams playing. The Giants are a better team than they were back then and I feel like we are too. I'm kind of over that game but at the same time, you have to take the lessons from that fourth quarter drive and apply it to this game."
The Patriots secondary has been rightfully much maligned this year, giving up 411.1 yards per game, next to last in the league. Chief among the problems in the secondary has been the play of second year man Devin McCourty, who struggled at CB but has played better after being moved to safety. McCourty talked about the week nine game, and how the match up is different now. "I think one big difference for us is Hakeem Nicks wasn't playing so it kind of changed how they played compared to how they're playing now. They have a great quarterback. Eli has been doing a great job; if you just look at his numbers throughout the season especially toward the end of the season and the playoffs. For us in the secondary, they have three phenomenal receivers. They made plays all throughout the playoffs, whether Cruz, Manningham or Nicks. I think if you put those guys together with a quarterback like that, they create so many different matchup problems that throughout any playoff game they're taking advantage. That's why you see so many different guys have big games each of the different games. I think just to prepare for all those guys is the toughest thing." McCourty said this week.
McCourty, Patrick Chung, and Kyle Arrington will all need to play absolutely perfect next Sunday if the Pats will have chance against the Giants. If Tom Brady has a game like he did against the Ravens, this game will be over early. Brady will need to be better, and most likely will. Whether or not the defense can turn in a game for the ages, that remains to be seen. That is also what it's going to take to beat these NY Football Giants. If the Flying Elvii D isn't perfect, the Patriot haters will have a great day.
Someone needs to explain the Pats being three point favorites....