The 1-7 New York Giants come into their Monday Night matchup against the (2-7) San Francisco 49ers motivated to get their second win of the season.
When the New York Giants take the field to face the San Francisco 49ers at Levi Stadium on Monday Night Football, it will have been 15 days since their last game when they were defeated by the Redskins, 20-13.
At 1-7 and having recently traded away two defensive starters in Damon Harrison and Eli Apple, and having their rookie quarterback Kyle Lauletta arrested, no team needed a bye more than the Giants.
Now the team seems refreshed and focused on redeeming themselves in the second half of the season.
Eli Manning spoke earlier this week about coming off a bye and looking forward to the second half of the season.
“I think always when you get a little break, just let the body and mind heel up, and get excited and get ready for the second half of the season. I look forward to getting back on track, and improving on some things, and playing good football.”
Odell Beckham Jr. was even more excited about the second half of the season what he expects the team to accomplish.
“Win eight games. Go 9-7 and go to the playoffs. Giants been there before, 9-7 and got to the playoffs. I think they did pretty good, so that’s the goal. It’s not an easy task, but that’s the goal. We want to win every game, and do anything I can to help that.”
.@obj is fired up to start the second half of the season. ?? pic.twitter.com/DFSnF7eBBC
— New York Giants (@Giants) November 9, 2018
If the Giants are able to win eight straight games, it would be one of the most remarkable feats in sports history. But you have to take games one at a time and here’s what the Giants need to do to win on Monday night.
1. Don’t give up big plays
In their last game when they defeated the Oakland Raiders 34-3, the San Francisco 49ers connected on plays of 52, 53, and 71 yards on three separate drives that all led to points.
Quarterback Nick Mullens will be making just his second NFL start and the Giants have to make sure they don’t make life easy for him by giving up big plays. If the defense can stop the 49ers offense from making big plays and force them to go on long drives, the chances of Mullens making a mistake increases.
The Giants are familiar with the big play capability of the 49ers as Marquise Goodwin’s 83-yard touchdown reception in last year’s meeting helped paved the way to the 49ers, winning 31-21.
2. Keep Eli Manning upright
The offensive line has been the biggest issue with the Giants this season as Manning has been sacked 31 times this season. The 49ers defense has sacked opposing quarterbacks 24 times this season, which is tied for seventh most in the NFL.
Newly acquired Jamon Brown may start at right guard for the Giants on Monday and the Giants are hopeful he can give the line a boost. The 49ers have the 23rd-ranked pass defense in the NFL, so if the line can give Manning time, he can exploit the 49ers secondary and connect with Beckham and the rest of the Giants playmakers.
3. Feature Saquon Barkley
Barkley is the front-runner for the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, despite never carrying the ball 20 times in any game this season. The 49ers are giving up 102 yards on the ground and will be without starting linebacker Reuben Foster (hamstring).
The Giants still need to get Barkley active in the passing game, but Monday seems like the ideal time to give the well-rested Barkley at least 20 carries.
4. Win the turnover battle
The best way for the Giants to win on Monday night is if they do something they’ve only done twice this season: win the turnover battle. The Giants are good enough to beat anybody if they lose the turnover battle, so it’s imperative that they win the turnover battle on Monday.
5. Stop George Kittle
Slowly but surely, tight end George Kittle is becoming one of the best tight ends in the league. He leads the 49ers in receptions (41) and receiving yards (692). The Giants have always struggled covering opposing tight ends, so you can expect for Mullens to look for him often on Monday.
It will be up to the Giants linebackers and safeties to stop Kittle. Look for Alec Ogletree along with Landon Collins and Curtis Riley to be matched up against Kittle.
Pat Shurmur seems to have his team motivated coming into this matchup. After a bye week, we should see the Giants best football of the season. Look for them to eke out a win Monday night.