We’ll be in for an interesting game as the undefeated Chiefs host the win-less Giants. On the one hand, the Giants may have desperation on their side. On the other, the Chiefs might just be a better football team. Both teams will be relying on their defense first — Kansas City by design, and New York out of necessity. That should mean a relatively low scoring game, unless it’s a blowout… no shootout this week. I’ll take a look at the specific match-ups, but first here are the Giants’ game statuses for Sunday:
- [RG] Chris Snee (hip), [CB] Corey Webster (hip), [C] David Baas (neck), [TE] Adrien Robinson (foot)
- [OL] David Diehl (thumb)
- [LB] Jacquian Williams (knee), [S] Cooper Taylor (shoulder)
- [CB] Terrell Thomas (knee), [LB] Spencer Paysinger (hip), [DE] Justin Trattou (ankle)
And for Kansas City:
- [TE] Travis Kelce (knee)
- [CB] Brandon Flowers (knee), [FS] Kendrick Lewis (ankle), [LG] Jeff Allen (groin), [TE] Anthony Fasano (ankle)
- [LT] Branden Albert (shoulder), [DE] Mike DeVito (shoulder), [FB] Anthony Sherman (knee)
The glaring injury situation is the Giants offensive line, which will be missing two (three, if you count Diehl) of it’s starters. Coughlin wouldn’t reveal what the starting line will look like, but two of the new faces will be out of [G]s James Brewer, Brandon Mosley, and [C] Jim Cordle. My best guess is that Kevin Boothe will move to [C], and Brewer and Mosley get the nod. It’s alarming that Webster will miss another week, and Aaron Ross will again have to step into a starting role. He had ups and downs last week against Carolina, so hopefully he fares better against the more conservative Chiefs attack. I’d expect for Keith Rivers to see his snaps increase this week with Williams and Paysinger ailing, and newcomer Allen Bradford may get a chance to contribute.
GIANTS OFFENSE vs. CHIEFS DEFENSE
If our starting O-Line couldn’t handle the Panthers, it’s terrifying to imagine how our backups will fare against the Chiefs. Their defense boasts playmakers at nearly every position, including [NT] Dontari Poe, [OLB]s Justin Houston (current NFL sack leader) and Tamba Hali, [MLB] Derrick Johnson, and [SS] Eric Berry. They top the NFL sack total with 15. Their trio of [CB]s is among the best in the league, with Brandon Flowers, Sean Smith, and Dunta Robinson. They won’t have to rush more than 4, and spreading out for a simpler quick hitting offense isn’t going to be a reliable method of masking our offensive line. If the Giants are going to find any sort of consistency, they’ll have to be balanced, and that means the running game has to produce something. If it doesn’t, this game will quickly resemble last week’s fiasco. The good news? The Chiefs are giving up 124 yds/game on the ground, and surrender a league-worst 5.6 yds/rush. The bad news? Through the first three weeks, the Giants have 13 giveaways (worst in the league) and the Chiefs have 9 takeaways (4th highest, 4-INT 5-FF). The X-factor may turn out to be [TE] Bear Pascoe, who 1) is a much better blocker than starter Brandon Myers and 2) should see snaps at fullback (since Conner just got here) with Hynoski on IR. Yeah, I know — not exactly an exciting X-factor. In order for the Giants to put up numbers they will have to look like an entirely different team than they have thus far. And for that to happen, some new faces up front are going to have to surprise a whole lot of people.
GIANTS DEFENSE vs. CHIEFS OFFENSE
Andy Reid has the Chiefs playing a very conservative offense, the focus being ball security (they have zero giveaways on the year). They’re averaging 127 yards rushing without hitting any long plays — their longest rush went for only 18 yards. [HB] Jamaal Charles is a game breaker, and it’s only a matter of time before his home runs start coming. The Giants will have to be extra careful to keep their main weapon contained, and a lot of that responsibility will be on the defensive backs. With Corey Webster out, Aaron Ross will really have to step up not only in coverage but also in run support. Guys like Antrel Rolle and Terrell Thomas will have plenty of opportunity playing downhill near the line of scrimmage, so getting good efforts out of them will really help the cause. When it comes to the passing attack, this will be the first week that the Giants see an offense without a dangerous tight end. Even when healthy, Fasano (questionable with an ankle) doesn’t keep coordinators up at night. Hopefully our linebackers will look a little more comfortable, and maybe they’ll get more opportunities to blitz, which would certainly help our pass rush. Our 3 sacks on the year is tied for worst in the league. When it comes down to it, the thing that would help our defense the most is getting a chance to play with a lead. That’s what it’s built for, but we’ll have to wait and see if that ever happens.
Interestingly enough, Steve Weatherford and Dustin Colquitt have the worst and 2nd worst net punt averages in the league (at 33.4 and 36, respectively). Ryan Succop has missed two field goals from 40-49, and Josh Brown has missed one from 30-39. Last week, [S] Quintin Demps showed serious big play ability, while so far [HB] David Wilson hasn’t had the same success in the return game as he had last year. Dexter McCluster averages 11.1 yards on punt returns (NFL’s 10th best), and Rueben Randle’s average is 4.7. It wouldn’t be surprising if poor special teams performances play a large role in determining the winner of this game.