By Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)
W2W4: Denver Broncos vs. New York Giants
Sunday, September 16th, 2013
The Giants will look to bounce back after a disappointing season opener in Dallas against the Cowboys. Five turnovers will usually do a team in but with the game winding down to the final minutes the Giants were in position to steal a victory in Dallas. But a sixth turnover, and third Eli Manning interception of the game, proved to be too much as the Giants fell 36-31 to start the season 0-1.
The Giants were also done in by the fumbling of David Wilson, which for the second consecutive opening week of the season resulted in him being benched against the Cowboys. This resulted in the Giants running game being non-existent and the entire offensive load being put on the shoulders of Manning.
The Giants as a whole showed a lot of heart as they never gave up despite the poor play and unfortunate turn of events but it still resulted in a loss. They will look to bounce back against a very difficult Broncos squad that looked in midseason form on offense in their first game of the season against the defending champion Baltimore Ravens. Here are some things to keep an eye on this week in Manning Bowl III.
Both the Giants and Broncos will be dealing with some injuries heading into Sunday. For the Giants they suffered yet another big blow to their defense as starting linebacker Dan Connor will be lost for the season. Connor suffered a burner against the Cowboys, his second consecutive game doing so, and will be lost for the remainder of the season. Also starting cornerback Prince Amukamara suffered a concussion last Sunday night. He was cleared to play earlier Friday and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game. Expect him to be on the field as the Giants need as many healthy cornerbacks to go against Peyton manning. Antrel Rolle was added to the injury report though with a tweaked groin. That would be a huge blow to the Giants to not have Rolle in the lineup; he is the heart and soul and leader of the Giants defense.
The Giant did receive some good news on the injury front as center David Baas will be making his debut Sunday. Baas injured his left MCL in the second preseason game and was cleared to return to game action.
For the Broncos they will once again be without All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey. Bailey will miss his second consecutive game since injuring his foot August 17th against the Seattle Seahawks. Middle linebacker Wesley Woodward looks like he is ready to play and start at middle linebacker Sunday.
-Giants Running Game
As previously stated the Giants run game was a disaster in Week one because of the fumbling and ineffective play of Wilson. Head coach Tom Coughlin has yet to announce that Wilson will the starter this week, but in reality he will be; the Giants just do not have anyone else to turn to after Andre Brown went down with an injury in the last preseason game.
They signed Brandon Jacobs off the streets this week but that is more of a replacement for Brown, not Wilson. Jacobs will come in and provide some veteran leadership to the young Wilson and will also immensely help in pass protection. One thing being overshadowed because of his fumbling was the struggles Wilson showed in pass protection. One play stands out when he whiffed on a block with the Giants in the red zone that resulted in Manning getting sacked and the Giants later having to settle for a field goal attempt.
Wilson’s confidence is most likely at an all-time low right now and it will be something to keep an eye on how the Giants work him into the game plan. He will be starting and have a role in the offense but it will be greatly diminished from what it was expected to be when the season started. One place we could possibly see Wilson more of this week than last week is in the return game. Last season Wilson was one of the best kickoff return men in the NFL and had that role reduced with an increased role in the offense. With his touches being cut on offense look for Wilson to field more kicks to provide a spark on special teams for the Giants.
-Who Has the Better Receivers?
A long lasting debate between many football pundits is who has the best receiving core in the NFL. This weekend we will see two of, if not the two best groups in the NFL on the field all afternoon. The Broncos send out Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker at wide receiver and up-and-comer Julius Thomas at tight end; on the other hand the Giants have Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and upstart Rueben Randle at wide receiver and proven tight end Brandon Myers.
Having either quartet of receivers would make any quarterback happy as both groups make give the Broncos and Giants two of the most prolific offenses in the NFL. It will be an air show on Sunday afternoon as both Mannings will be airing it out throughout most of the game. With such talent and question marks at running back for both teams this could be a big scoring game. It would be no surprise to see the two teams combined for over 80 passing attempts, 850 yards of passing and 8 touchdowns after what both of them accomplished last week.
The Broncos have better name recognition on their side but the Giants have a more explosive group on their hands. Every quarterback would die to have these groups of players on their team but for this season and the long run the Giants have the better group of players; they are younger and have more explosiveness.
-The Other Side of the Passing Game
The last segment gushed about how great the receiving corps is for both teams; the same cannot be said about the defensive backs. Both teams will come into the game with some injury concerns in the defensive backfield, something no one wants coming into a game with the caliber of quarterbacks in this one.
For the Giants it is time to step up and shut down an elite quarterback. The Giants have struggled stopping explosive offenses last season because of a lack of a pass rush. The front seven will need to step up their game and get after Peyton so that he does not get comfortable in the pocket. If he gets comfortable he will pick apart the Giants defense with ease. An injury concerned Amukamara and Rolle, Aaron Ross and Terrell Thomas are not enough to slow down a Peyton-led offense. The line led by Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Cullen Jenkins and Linval Joseph will have to control the line of scrimmage and make some plays.
For the Broncos, it will be all about controlling the middle of the field. In Week 1, the Ravens were able to pick them apart in the middle of the field with underwhelming tight end combination Dallas Clark and Ed Dickson. The Giants are more than willing to throw over the middle to their tight end Myers if the opportunity presents itself. Myers is in line for a big game if the Broncos use a similar scheme they did against the Ravens because they also have a dominant slot man in Cruz to patrol the middle. Nicks and Randle on the outside are a combination the Broncos will rarely have to face as they can stretch the field and open up the middle for Cruz and Nicks. Much like the Giants the Broncos will rely on a pass rush to make Eli uncomfortable. Eli is very elusive in the pocket but as we saw last week against the Cowboys can be injury prone if you shut down the run game or get him uncomfortable.
This matchup Sunday should not be a blowout like many people predict. It should be a hard fought game with the team coming out on top the one that can make the opposing quarterback more uncomfortable. For the Giants this is almost a must win game as going down 0-2 on the season is nothing any team wants to do and they are out to prove last week was an aberration and will never happen again. This will be one of the best games of the week and potentially the season with the headlines the Mannings already bring in before the game even starts.