Patriots fans will have to endure some very deep and painful flashbacks Sunday afternoon when their team travels up I-95 to Metlife Stadium to take on old Super Bowl kryptonite, the New York football Giants.
Tom Coughlin and Bill Belichick are former colleagues from their time as defensive coordinator and wide receiver’s coach with the Giants in the late 1980’s. Belichick has had the more successful coaching career by far, but Coughlin is the most successful coach at taking down Belichick lead teams in head to head match ups. Coughlin has a lifetime record of 5-1 against Belichick’s Browns and Patriots teams, and currently has a three game win streak against the Patriots dating back to 2007.
Furthermore, the Giants are synonymous for ending Patriots win streaks as they have ended their previous two winning streaks of ten games or more, along with ending their 20-game win streak at Gillette Stadium in October of 2011.
Going into this Sunday’s game, the Patriots have an 11-game streak, and once again the G-men are standing in their way. How can they avenge their demons from years past you ask? With these keys to the game.
Establish a running attack: Tom Brady and Josh McDaniels go into each week usually with the attitude that they are going to sling it all over the field. Perfect example is week seven against the Jets when they attempted to throw the ball 60 times. LeGarrette Blount is a player who could, most weeks, just stay on his couch on game day because he is a none factor. However, this week the game plan calls for LeGarrette Blount. The Giants are the 32nd ranked overall defense in the league, and they really lack talent all across the board. In addition, the Patriots offensive line is depleted right now with likely no Sebastian Vollmer, no Marcus Cannon, and no Tre Jackson for this week’s game. Due to this, the offense will see a heavy zero-set with a lot of blocking from Rob Gronkowski, Scott Chandler, and Michael Williams. Blount ran for 129 yards against a bad run defense and he has proven that he can advantage of a weak run defense in the past. When going up against a quick strike offense like the Giants have, on the road it could be crucial for the Patriots to take a lot of time off the clock and keep Odell Beckham Jr. and Eli Manning on the sideline.
Don’t force it to the playmakers: Weak defense’s always try to focus on not getting beat by an opposing offense’s best players. For the Giants this week, they will try and hit Rob Gronkowski early and often and take away the short part of the field away from Julian Edelman. The problem in doing this against the New England offense is that they have secondary offensive players that can beat you in Danny Amendola and Brandon LaFell. The Giants have Antonio Rodgers-Cromartie at cornerback, and that is about it. Danny Amendola has been having his best season as a Patriot and Brandon LaFell has yet to have had a breakout game this year. This could be the week where he gets it going with those short to intermediate routes to start drives. The Giants have been destroyed by tight ends this season, therefore Rob Gronkowski’s plays will come naturally.
Get after Eli Manning: In previous match ups with the Giants, big blue has been the bully up front. This week, things need to change. The Patriots have a much better front seven even without Jamie Collins right now, who is dealing with a virus. Chandler Jones leads the league in sacks right now, and it is crucial that he continues to get after the quarterback this Sunday. The Giants offense can score on any play with their big playmakers in Beckham, Reuben Randle, and Shane Vereen. Make Eli uncomfortable and force him into turnovers, because as we all know he is just as famous for throwing interceptions as he is for leading fourth quarter Super Bowl drives.
Patrick Chung needs to perform: With Jamie Collins availability for this week in doubt, the Giants should be game planning for old friend Shane Vereen to be essential on offense. The Patriots line backing core is not very athletic in coverage other than Collins. Maybe this is the week Jon Bostic shows his stuff on defense, but we have not seen much from him besides on special teams. The coverage skills of Dont’a Hightower and Jonathan Freeny are atrocious. Therefore, Patrick Chung needs to do what he does best, and that is come down into the box and man up with Vereen. Chung has struggled in coverage against tight ends because he is vastly outsized. Against a smaller running back such as Vereen, he should be able to size up well.
Do not turn the ball over: The Giants defense is ranked at the bottom of the league in overall defense, but they do one thing extremely well and that is turn the ball over. They lead the league in turnovers, trailed by the Patriots at second overall. Tom Brady does not turn the ball over very often, with only two interceptions on the season. This game, as is the case with many games whoever wins the turnover battle will win the game. The Patriots can not afford to give the high scoring Giants offense the ball when it is not necessary.
In the end, history has scarred many Patriots fans from being over confident about their team winning this game. It should, Tom Coughlin is not intimidated by Bill Belichick because they were equals at one point.
Although to quote former Boston Celtics coach Rick Pitino, Justin Tuck isn’t walking through that door, Osi Umenyiora isn’t walking through that door, and Michael Strahan isn’t walking through that door. This is a much less talented Giants defense going up against arguably the best offense in the game right now against a red hot quarterback. That is why I can’t pick against the Patriots. It will be a tough grind it out game that will want to make you pull your hair out Patriots fans, but they will make the plays they need to make this time around and win the game by four points.