|Scouting Report: What you have to know about Patriots-Giants||11.14.15 at 11:30 am ET|
Here’s what you have to know when it comes to Sunday’s Giants-Patriots contest at MetLife Stadium.
WHEN THE PATRIOTS RUN THE BALL
When it comes to the Giants‘ defense, the numbers don’t add up. It’s near the bottom of the league in most major categories. New York is 22nd against the run (114.8 rushing yards per game allowed), 31st in pass defense (308 passing yards per game allowed) and 19th in scoring defense (having given up an average of 25.1 points per game). But at the same time, New York is the best teams in the league at forcing turnovers. Through nine games, the Giants are tied for the top spot in the league with 21 takeaways — 13 interceptions and eight fumbles. In addition, their plus-12 differential is the best spot in the league. The key for opposing offenses? Making smart decisions with the football. (In the words of Julian Edelman part of it is about knowing “when the journey is over.”) The Giants love to have one guy hold up the ballcarrier while another will come in and try and punch at the ball, trying to force the takeaway. When it comes to ball security, the teams that don’t let them get put in dicey situations are the ones that have success against New York, and that’s especially true on the ground. On Sunday, the Patriots will look to test a reeling run defense, one that will be without its primary run stuffer in defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, who was placed on injured reserve earlier this week with a torn pectoral. Figure roughly 20 carries for LeGarrette Blount (98 carries, 447 yards, 5 TDs), who will likely see a slight spike in his workload following the season-ending injury to Dion Lewis. With Lewis on the shelf, expect the Patriots to lean on the likes of Brandon Bolden (7 carries, 14 yards) and James White (7 carries, 15 yards) when Blount needs a breather or New England is in third-down situations or running five wide. As long as the Patriots steer clear of turnovers, this is a winnable matchup for New England.
WHEN THE PATRIOTS PASS THE BALL
Even with questions about the state of New England’s perilously thin offensive line and the Giants‘ knack for takeaways, this remains a positive matchup for the Patriots. Drew Brees threw for 505 yards against the Giants earlier this month. 505 yards. Let that marinate for a while when you consider the state of the New York pass defense heading into Sunday’s game. The Giants will have Jason Pierre-Paul for the second straight contest after the pass rusher spent the bulk of the summer and early portion of the regular season working his way back from a fireworks accident, but it’s debatable what sort of impact he’s capable of having on one of the worst pass defenses in the league. (The Giants are last in the league with nine sacks.) While they’re good at forcing takeaways — as we previously noted — the Giants have also shown a propensity to be overwhelmed when facing an above average passing attack, and could be in over their head even more with the news Friday that cornerback Prince Amukamara was ruled out for the contest. Look for Tom Brady (69 percent completion rate, 2,709 passing yards, 22 TDs, 2 INTs) to utilize his core on Sunday: Rob Gronkowski (44 catches, 693 yards, 7 TDs), Julian Edelman (57 catches, 639 yards, 7 TDs), Danny Amendola (30 catches, 324 yards, 2 TDs) and Brandon LaFell (11 catches, 174 yards). As is the case when it comes to the ground game, Bolden (5 catches, 41 yards, 1 TD) and White (7 catches, 52 yards) will likely get the bulk of the work as the third down back with Lewis on the sideline. In the end, the strength and depth of the New England passing game should more than enough to make the difference in this contest.
|Mike Florio on D&C: ‘The Giants are the one team it seems like it’s in the Patriots’ heads’||11.13.15 at 9:05 am ET|
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio made his weekly appearance with Dennis, Callahan & Minihane on Friday morning to talk about Sunday’s Patriots-Giants game, the combustible situation in Dallas and other NFL news. To hear the interview, go to the D&C audio on demand page.
The Patriots head to the Meadowlands on Sunday, looking to continue their perfect season against the team that left New England frustrated in two Super Bowls.
“The teams have changed dramatically, but there’s one constant: the coaches and the quarterbacks. And those are the two more important positions on the field,” Florio said. “And when you have Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning winning three straight against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, that’s a factor in this. It may not be a huge factor when you look at the fact that the Giants don’t have the horses they used to have on both sides of the ball — offensive line and defensive line, the biggest areas where the Giants are different, especially from that team in 2007.
“But Coughlin and Manning, Brady and Belichick — is there something there? At a time when the Patriots are in it seems like every other team’s head in the NFL, the Giants are the one team it seems like it’s in the Patriots’ heads. Specifically, Coughlin in Belichick’s head. They were colleagues with the Giants, Super Bowl 25 under Bill Parcells. I don’t know what that dynamic is, or what in the world’s going on there, but three straight wins — we overlook that regular-season game from November of 2011. That was a heck of a win by the Giants in Foxboro, late win.
“Eli Manning, the guy who’s never flustered by anything, just finds a zone against the Patriots. It’s happened enough times now that we have to take it seriously. But it may not matter if you don’t have the other pieces around Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin for it to make a difference.”
|5 things you have to know about Giants: New York air attack will test Patriots pass defense||11.09.15 at 1:32 pm ET|
Five things you have to know about the Giants, who will host the Patriots Sunday in North Jersey:
1. They have a good passing game.
The Giants should present a nice challenge to the New England pass defense. Arguably, Eli Manning is having the best season of any quarterback that will face the Patriots to this point in the season: he’s in the top 10 in several major categories, including touchdown passes (19), passing yards (2,339) and completion percentage (66 percent), and has the New York offense fifth in the league in scoring at 27.4 points per game. Old friend Shane Vereen is still one of the best pass-catching backs in the game — he has 34 catches for 309 yards and three touchdowns — while the electric Odell Beckham, Jr. is still one of the best young receivers in the league with a team-high 59 catches for 759 yards and seven touchdowns this season. If that’s not enough, the Giants also boast a pretty good No. 2 receiver in Reuben Randle (36 catches, 424 yards, three touchdowns) and a workmanlike tight end in Larry Donnell (29 catches, 223 yards, two touchdowns) who augments the passing game nicely. It’s early in the week — and it certainly wouldn’t be man-to-man all afternoon — but a Beckham/Malcolm Butler showdown would certainly be compelling theater. (Ditto for a Beckham/Logan Ryan matchup that included Devin McCourty over the top, not unlike how New England approached Brandon Marshall.) Meanwhile, the Patriots could theoretically shadow Vereen with speedy linebacker Jamie Collins or Patrick Chung. It’ll also help out the back end of the defense if the front seven — namely a healthy Jabaal Sheard, mixed with a steady dose of Chandler Jones — is able to cut down on the cover time with a steady pass rush. New England has improved defensively in almost every category over the last month-plus, but will face a serious test Sunday against the Giants.
2. Rashad Jennings is the closest thing they have to a feature back.
As a team, the Giants haven’t been particularly effective when it comes to running the ball, but when they’ve succeeded, they’ve done it just enough to keep the other team honest. New York is 24th in the league on the ground, averaging 96.7 rushing yards per game, while its 3.8 yards per carry is 25th in the NFL. The 6-foot-1, 234-pound Jennings (94 carries, 364 rushing yards, one touchdown, 3.9 yards per carry) is tops on the roster, while BC product Andre Williams (61 carries, 177 rushing yards, one touchdown, 2.9 yards per carry) offers some support. Vereen (41 carries, 174 rushing yards, 4.2 yards per carry) also works as the third-down option. You can’t necessarily neglect the New York running game; it’s only to suggest that if you have to prioritize your defensive scheme, you focus on the passing game first.
3. They are having issues on defense.
The Giants have been up-and-down over the course of the first nine games of the season, and currently sit at 5-4 and in first place in the NFC East. But a closer look at the numbers reveals they have had issues on the defensive side of the ball. New York has yielded 308 passing yards per game, 31st in the NFL. The Giants have allowed 114.8 rushing yards per game, 22nd in the NFL. And they are 19th in the league when it comes to scoring defense, having given up an average of 25.1 points per game. (For comparisons sake, the Patriots are allowed 17.9 points per game, fifth in the NFL.) Now, some of those poor numbers are skewed because of the ridiculous shootout they got into against the Saints earlier this season, a game that New Orleans won in OT, 52-49. And they welcomed back pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul for the first time on Sunday in a win over the Bucs. (Pierre-Paul should provide a boost for a team that has struggled to put consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks all season.) But there are some clear vulnerabilities there, including on the ground, where the Giants run defense — one of the best in the league in the early going — has really struggled. New York got some more bad news on Monday, when it was revealed that defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins suffered a torn pectoral muscle. If he’s out for an extended stretch, it could deal a serious blow to an already reeling run defense, and could mean another big day for the New England ground game.
|Fantasy Football: Week 9 starts, sits||11.06.15 at 11:35 am ET|
It’s Friday, and that means it’s time for some starts and sits. As always, I have done my best to avoid the obvious stuff. If you are looking for information or rankings on players not included in this space, go to Rotobahn and consult my full Week 9 lineup rankings. I will be updating all of the rankings on Saturday and may make some Sunday morning adjustments as well.
As always, I will be here Sunday at 11 a.m. for our weekly chat. Bring your lineup questions and I’ll do my best to provide some clarity. And don’t forget to tune in to the Fantasy Football Hour this Sunday at 8 a.m. when Greg Dickerson and I will discuss the trending Week 9 topics and crucial game day information.
Derek Carr, Raiders at Steelers
Carr has been impressive in his second season. The Raiders went out and got him some new weapons in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, and the results have been very good so far. Carr has produced against some good defenses and had a big game against the Jets last week. He is spreading the ball around and taking plenty of shots downfield. He’s a top-10 start this week.
He can slow down significantly off of last week and still post QB1 numbers. Then again, he might not regress all that much against a Bucs defense that has not been getting the job done. Oh, and Manning has that Odell Beckham guy. That helps.
He has more receivers and tight ends than the Colts can cover effectively. And Manning may have a running game if last week’s success is any indication of future performance. I expect Manning to make get some big plays by throwing to the receiver who isn’t being covered by Vontae Davis. He’s been getting solid yardage totals on most weeks, and I think he adds a few touchdowns against his old team.
Sam Bradford, Eagles at Cowboys
He’s been bad. There’s no way around it. That being said, Bradford has had a few strong games and finally has a healthy group of receivers to work with. The Eagles are coming off of a well-timed bye week and I think it serves them well against the Cowboys. Bradford may not be a stud option right now, but I think he’s playable if you need him. I also think he has a good chance to finish the season strong.
|Eli Manning ‘happy’ Tom Brady will be able to play following Thursday’s Deflategate decision||09.04.15 at 12:29 am ET|
“It’s probably been a long few months for him,” Manning said shortly after the preseason finale Thursday at Gillette Stadium. “I’m happy he’ll be back on the field next week.”
Brady, who had his four-game suspension overturned Thursday morning, didn’t play Thursday evening against the Giants. Manning also didn’t suit up for the contest, the final preseason game of the summer for both teams.
Manning was happy for Brady, but didn’t sound overly shocked that the suspension was overturned.
“I don’t think anything surprises me,” he said. “But I saw that it got overturned, and (Tom’s) been dealing with a lot. So I’m glad he finally gets to play.”
As for his thoughts about the role that commissioner Roger Goodell played in the process, Manning shrugged.
“I try not to get took involved in all of that, without knowing all of the details,” he said. “What I’d say is that (the commissioner) has a job to do. But I’m glad Tom can play next week.”
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
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|Chiefs QB Alex Smith: QBs ‘particular’ about their footballs||05.13.15 at 9:26 am ET|
Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said Tuesday that while he has yet to check out the specifics of the Wells Report and Deflategate, he knows that signal-callers can be “particular” when it comes to the state of the football and how it’s broken in.
“As far as breaking a ball in, I’ve never heard a quarterback ever altering the inflation of a football,” he said. “But certainly some quarterbacks prefer brand new balls and some guys prefer them to be worn in a little more. It’s kind of team to team, quarterback to quarterback.”
“I like them right out of the box,” Kansas City backup QB Chase Daniel said. “That’s just how I throw them. That’s how I have my entire life. I just haven’t paid much attention to it.”
Smith and Daniels are just the latest current quarterbacks to weigh in on the situations. Peyton and Eli Manning have acknowledged fellow QB Tom Brady as a friend, but mostly steered clear of any sort of definitive statement. Meanwhile, San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick gave a clear defense of Brady via Twitter late last week, saying, “Let it go and let Tom be great.”
|Eli Manning on Tom Brady’s suspension: ‘I think it is about integrity and you have to follow the rules’||05.12.15 at 7:19 am ET|
Manning said he doesn’t like to see him get suspended, but said Brady broke the rules and deserved to be punished.
“I don’t like to see anybody get suspended, I don’t like to see anybody get in trouble, so in no way am I glad to see this happen,” Manning said, via the New York Daily News. “I think it is about integrity and you have to follow the rules. So if someone’s breaking rules I understand they’re going to get punished.”
The Giants quarterback said he’s read parts of the Wells Report, and the parts he read weren’t good.
“Obviously it didn’t look good,” Manning said. “I figured something like this may happen.”
He added Brady’s punishment and the Patriots’ is quite severe: “Anytime you lose a starting quarterback for four games and draft picks it’s a pretty big statement. Obviously the NFL is serious about not messing with the integrity of the game, no matter how big or little the issue is.”
Much has been made of what this means for Brady’s legacy, but Manning says Brady is still “one of the best in the business.”
“I don’t know. I haven’t thought much about it,” Manning said. “But no, I think Tom is still one of the best in the business, coming off a great year and a championship. He’s won a lot. So I don’t think he’s worried about legacy right now.”
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.