The New York Giants head to Philadelphia to take on the rival Eagles in Week 3. They’re looking to get their first victory of the season after an 0-2 start.
The New York Giants have not lived up to preseason expectations. Once believed to be Super Bowl contenders, Big Blue now sits at 0-2.
The Giants have one of the worst offenses in football and it’s leaving their defense in tough spots.
It’s still too early in the season to call this a must-win, but New York needs a victory pretty badly.
The New York Giants play the Philadelphia Eagles twice every year, so the two sides know each other well. The NFC East rivals split the season series last year, with the home team winning both games.
In order for Big Blue to pick up the road win and get their season back on the right track, they’ll need a few players to be difference makers. Here are the offensive and defensive game breakers for the New York Giants this week.
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Offensive Game Breaker: WR Odell Beckham Jr.
Odell Beckham Jr. made his season debut in Week 2 but was not 100% healthy. Still recovering from a preseason ankle injury, OBJ played just 34 snaps on Monday night (60.7%).
Heading into Week 3, Odell wasn’t even listed on the New York Giants injury report. Hopefully that means Beckham is close to fully healthy and will be ready to go against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles don’t have a great secondary. In fact, Pro Football Focus ranked Philly’s coverage unit as the worst in football heading into 2017.
If Odell Beckham Jr. is healthy in this one, he should torch Philadelphia’s secondary. The last time OBJ faced the Birds, he hauled in 11 catches for 150 yards in Week 16 last year.
When he’s on the field, Odell is a threat to take it to the house on any play. He draws so much attention from the defense and can lift up this sorry offense.
Yes, the offensive line is bad. But the best way to hide bad blocking is to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands quickly. All Eli Manning needs to do is throw Beckham a slant and he can outrun the defense to pay dirt.
No other receiver on the Giants roster (or possibly in the entire NFL) can turn short passes into big gains quite like Odell Beckham Jr.
OBJ will also draw double coverage a ton. There have been complaints that the Giants receivers haven’t been getting open. Well, with a healthy Odell drawing double teams, the rest of the receiving corps will face single coverage and hopefully be able to get open more often.
New York can’t run the ball well either. However, with Beckham drawing the attention of the safeties, the Giants running backs should see softer defensive fronts.
The New York Giants offense revolves around Odell Beckham Jr. There’s a reason he’s eclipsed 90 catches, 1,300 yards, and ten touchdowns in all three seasons of his career. He’s one of, if not the best wide receiver in all of football!
Eli Manning, the offensive line, the running backs, and the rest of the wide receivers all need to play better for Big Blue’s offense to pick things up. Unlike any other player, Odell Beckham Jr. has the ability to help improve every single aspect of the New York Giants offense.
Odell Beckham Jr. Predicted Stat Line: 10 catches, 127 yards, 2 TD
Defensive Game Breaker: CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Janoris Jenkins is questionable to play on Sunday with an ankle injury and could wind up missing his second game in a row. The New York Giants secondary held up without Jackrabbit against the Detroit Lions but they’ll all have to step up once again if Jenkins is out.
No Jenkins on the outside means Alshon Jeffery could have an easier day. I would guess, based on how Ross Cockrell played in Week 2 and how Eli Apple has played in the first two games, that Cockrell would cover Jeffery for most of the game. Apple will use his speed to try to keep up with Torrey Smith on the other side.
If the New York Giants are undermanned on the outside, they’ll need to shut down the slot. The man responsible for the slot is nickel corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Nelson Agholor operates in the slot for Philadelphia. The Eagles even traded Jordan Matthews to the Buffalo Bills to make room for Agholor.
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Agholor has produced for Philly so far this season. He had a big opening game against the Washington Redskins, securing six of eight targets for 86 yards and a touchdown. He then hauled in just one catch in Week 2 against the Kansas City Chiefs but it went for a nine-yard touchdown.
Big Blue hopes to stop Agholor’s touchdown streak and DRC is the man for the job.
In Week 1, Dallas Cowboys slot receiver Cole Beasley had just three catches for 32 yards. Then in Week 2, Detroit Lions slot man Golden Tate made just four grabs for 25 yards. This was after Tate had ten catches and 107 yards in Week 1 against the Arizona Cardinals.
Rodgers-Cromartie’s Week 2 performance earned him a 78.3 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, the third-highest on the New York Giants.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will have to lock down Nelson Agholor on Sunday and allow the Giants safeties to help out Ross Cockrell and Eli Apple on the outside.
Middle linebacker B.J. Goodson has already been ruled out, so DRC may have to cover tight end Zach Ertz on a few plays as well. Ertz has been one of Carson Wentz’s favorite targets in 2017. Through two games, Ertz has caught 13 of 18 targets for 190 yards, topping the 90-yard mark in both games.
Goodson’s second straight absence means Rodgers-Cromartie will also have to contribute more in the running game, which was not a problem for DRC last week.
After making six run stops all last year, Rodgers-Cromartie had five against the Lions in Week 2. His 11.1 run stop percentage was best among cornerbacks, according to Pro Football Focus.
The Eagles have not had much success running the football so far this year, as Carson Wentz has been given a bit more freedom, but DRC’s run support could come into play Saturday afternoon.
The New York Giants defense has not been the problem during Big Blue’s 0-2 start. However, they’ll need to continue to play well in order for the Giants to get their first win of the season.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie Predicted Stat Line: 6 total tackles (2 run stops) and 1 INT
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