The New York Giants will need another solid performance on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans as they look to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY—Few believed the (5-8) New York Giants would be in playoff contention in the middle of December after a 1-7 start, but that’s where they stand heading into their matchup on Sunday against the (7-6) Tennessee Titans Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Although their playoff hopes are slim, head coach Pat Shurmur has his team motivated and believing they can beat anybody.
Here’s what the Giants will need to do in order to win on Sunday:
Stop the Titans ground game
The Titans offense goes as their ground game goes as they’re averaging 124 yards per game on the ground. Last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars, running back Derrick Henry had a monster game carrying the ball 17 times for a franchise record 238 yards and four touchdowns.
It’s not just Henry the Giants have to worry about rushing the ball. Dion Lewis and quarterback Marcus Mariota each have over 300 rushing yards on the season. If the Giants can slow down the Titans running game, it’s hard envisioning a scenario where the Titans win.
Continue to feed Saquon the ball
Not only is Barkley the best rookie in the league, over the last few weeks he’s been the best running back in football. In the last four games, he’s rushed for 538 yards and has scored six total touchdowns.
Last week, he became the first Giant since Ahmad Bradshaw to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. Now he’s just 247 all-purpose yards from being the first Giant since Tiki Barber in 2006 to have 2,000 all-purpose yards.
The Titans are in the middle of the pack in run defense (17th) giving up 115 yards per game. The average will go up after this game as they’re not equipped to deal with a running back the caliber of Barkley. Giants need to make sure Barkley gets over 20 touches on Sunday.
Get pressure on Mariota
Like most quarterbacks, Mariota can become erratic when he has pressure in his face. So far this year he’s been sacked 39 times, and his offensive line is more vulnerable now with tackle Jack Conklin going on IR.
The Giants pass rush which has been non-existent for most of the season has come on over the last three games recording 13 sacks. If Olivier Vernon and the rest of the Giants can get to Mariota, they’ll force him into making a mistake.
Challenge the Titans secondary deep
The strength of the Titans defense is their secondary, as they’re sixth in pass defense giving up 219 yards a game. But that doesn’t mean Eli Manning shouldn’t challenge their secondary deep.
Cornerback Malcolm Butler has been susceptible to giving up big plays, and the Giants may get Odell Beckham Jr. back this week. Even if OBJ doesn’t play, Manning needs to try a few deep passes against the Titans secondary to try to get a big play or pass interference penalty.
Win the turnover battle
One of the biggest reasons why the Giants have won four out of their last five games is because they’re plus-nine in turnover differential during that span. It’s a simple concept when you win the turnover battle, you will win the majority of your games.
If the Giants win the turnover battle on Sunday, you can chalk up another win for the Giants.
The Titans are one dimensional on offense as they have the 28th ranked passing attack at 195 yards a game. The New York Giants, at the very least, will be able to slow down their running attack. Saquon and Eli will make enough plays and the Giants will win.