Following two embarrassing loses at home, the New York Giants head out west to take on the winless San Francisco 49ers.
In a season that has been one of the most disappointing in the history of the New York Giants, a loss to a 0-9 49ers team would be the ultimate embarrassment. After all, this was a team that many felt would contend for a Super Bowl title at the beginning of the season.
Talent-wise, the Giants have a significant edge over the 49ers. But talent won’t matter if they don’t execute the gameplan and play with effort and pride.
Here are three keys to victory for the New York Giants.
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Establish—and stick—to the running game
The Giants were having success on the ground last week against the Los Angeles Rams as both Orleans Darkwa and Wayne Gallman averaged over four yards per carry. Then, for some unknown reason, the Giants simply stopped running the ball.
This week they’ll face a 49ers defense that’s dead last in rush defense, and that gave up 159 yards to Adrian Peterson last week.
The Giants may have a pass-happy offense, but the best way to earn a victory this week is to stick with the ground game and run the ball at least 35 times.
Bring on the blitz
The Giants pass rush has been non-existent over the last few weeks. Literally. Big Blue’s vaunted defense has recorded just one sack over the last two games.
With Jason Pierre-Paul likely to be double-teamed since Olivier Vernon and Kerry Wynn are both questionable for the game, the Giants will need to blitz with their linebackers and defensive backs if they’re going to get pressure on rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard.
The 49ers lost their best receiver, Pierre Garcon, for the season. That leaves San Francisco without a receiver that can put fear into the Giants secondary. That means defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo must blitz—and blitz often.
Feature Evan Engram when not running the ball
The one Giant that’s probably a lock to make the Pro Bowl this season is their first-round pick, Evan Engram. He has 15 receptions for 212 yards and three touchdowns over the last three games.
Whether it’s a linebacker or a defensive back is trying to cover him, he is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. Eli Manning needs to target him a minimum of 10 times on Sunday.