The 2-3 New York Giants will look to complete an upset as they take on the 5-0 New England Patriots Thursday night in Foxborough.
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—The New York Giants come into their Thursday night matchup a mash unit, as they’re dealing with significant injuries on both sides of the ball.
Wayne Gallman and Sterling Shepard are expected to miss the game due to concussions. Saquon Barkley, Lorenzo Carterand Evan Engram were all limited participants at Tuesday’s practice.
Here’s today’s injury report for the Giants. pic.twitter.com/vpM2oItnGU
— Jason Leach (@JasonKLeach) October 8, 2019
Despite this rash of setbacks, head coach Pat Shurmur expects this team to be competitive and put on a better showing than they did in their 28-10 thrashing at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
On Tuesday, Shurmur was asked how he and his team intend to deal with all of the injuries.
“We do everything each week to adjust to the players that we have on the field,” the second-year Giants coach said. “We try to do the things that they do best and give them the best chance to compete against the team we’re playing against. This game will be no different.”
If the Giants were to somehow win the game, it’ll arguably be one of the biggest upsets of the season.
Here’s what they’ll need to do in order to pull off the win
1. Disrupt Tom Brady
The Giants pass rush is improved from a season ago as they have 13 sacks on the year. However, they’ll have a hard time bringing down Tom Brady and his quick release. The six-time Super Bowl champion has only been sacked seven times this season.
If they can’t get to Brady, they at least need to pressure and get some hits on him. Dexter Lawrence has been excellent in providing a push upfront and becoming a disruptive force. The rest of the Giants front seven will need to be able to pressure Brady as they can ill-afford Brady experiencing a clean pocket.
If the Giants don’t disrupt Brady, he’ll pick apart their secondary.
2. Win the turnover battle
When you enter a game as decisive underdogs, the best way to turn the matchup in your favor is to create turnovers and give your offense additional possessions. Big Blue must do this, but at the same time, they can’t afford to turn the ball over. The opportunistic Patriots already have 12 takeaways on the season.
If the Giants can somehow be plus-two or plus-three in the turnover differential, it’ll bode well for their chances of pulling off the upset.
3. Contain Julian Edelman
Last week, Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen carved up the Giants secondary. He caught seven passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Many of his yards came on crossing routes. This week they’ll face one of the best slot receivers in the league in Julian Edelman.
The veteran is one of the best at catching passes in the middle of the field and Grant Haley will have a tough time covering him. Defensive coordinator James Bettcher must find a way for Haley to slow down Edelman. If not, Edelman will have a game similar to the one Thielen had.
4. Create some easy passes for Daniel Jones
The young Daniel Jones will face by far the toughest test of his young career when he goes up against the defensive mastermind Bill Belichick. This New England defense is allowing just 238.4 yards per game and 6.8 points per game. They’re leading the league in both of those departments.
You can expect that he’ll draw up schemes that will confuse the 22-year-old quarterback. Therefore, the Giants should try to build Jones’ confidence early by rolling him out and throwing short and safe passes to his running backs and receivers.
If Jones can complete short passes on first and second downs and avoid 3rd-and-long situations, it’ll make life easier for Jones on Thursday night.
5. Special Teams need to be special
In order to pull off the upset, the Giants will need to win the third phase of the game, and that’s special teams.
Last week Corey Ballentine had a 52-yard kickoff return that provided the team with a momentary spark. The Giants will need some long returns against the Pats and possibly a blocked kick or some big play by their special teams unit. That would provide a spark and change the tide of the game.
Simply put, the Giants are overmatched. Barring all of the five keys going in their favor, it’s difficult to find a scenario in which they win. Thursday night will be a learning experience for Shurmur’s young team, but at the end of the day, it’ll be a clear victory for the Patriots.