The game against the Arizona Cardinals was not a well executed one by the New York Giants. Between 7 penalties, 2 lost fumbles, less than 50% efficiency on third downs, and losing the time of possession battle, the New York Giants had no earthly right to win that game.
If it didn't come down to one judgement call on the field - and the skill of Eli Manning to lead his team to a come from behind victory in the fourth quarter - the Giants wouldn't in the race to be top in the NFC East.
If there's one really good stat line to take away from this game it's Eli Manning's: 27/40, 321 yards through the air, 2 touchdowns, no interceptions, and a QB rating of 108.4. That's back to back games now where Eli has managed to post a QB rating of 100+, a fairly impressive feat considering that most analysts said that if Eli had to throw the ball more than 10 times in a game his interception numbers would go through the roof.
All that proves is that analysts are stupid.
If there's one stat line you can take away from the game that's really positive, then there's got to be a stat line you can take away that's also very negative, and here it is:
The Arizona Cardinals scored three touchdowns. All three of them were by Beanie Wells, on the ground, against a defense that - supposedly - is very good against stopping the run.
Our defensive front has, in the past few games, been excellent against the run, and stuffed a good majority of plays at the line when coaches decided to try and run it in; but, the Arizona Cardinals made it look easy last Sunday pushing two 1 yard runs and one 2 yard run into the end zone for scores.
It's pretty obvious that our "bend, but don't break" defense broke on those plays - and that's got to be a serious concern heading into the future.
Really, though, what did we expect? Eventually the concept of "give up the plays over the middle but don't let them score in the red zone" is going to yield points for the opposition - it's just a matter of how many and can our offense come back from it.
Fortunately for us, our offense is able to pass the ball fairly well ... once the game gets started. Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz both averaged 16.2 yards per reception on 16 combined catches. While they only had 1 touchdown between them, it's still impressive that we can use two wide receivers to move the ball down the field - that keeps most of the pressure off of any one single wide receiver and opens up opportunities for guys like Jake Ballard to step in and start making catches.
In other words: Eli is spreading the ball around. Defenses can't key in on one receiver, and we keep moving the ball down the field. That's a win in my book.
As for our defense, yeah we kinda screwed up on trying to contain Beanie Wells; but, there is a good stat our of this: we held Larry Fitzgerald to 8 receptions for 102 yards and no touchdowns. While he did have a long 47 yard reception on our "bend but don't break" defense, he didn't get into the end zone. That means at 2:39, when Arizona had the ball and they were down by 4 points, Kevin Kolb couldn't find the one really skilled wide receiver to help drive the ball down the field - which, in turn, means that Beanie Wells wasn't able to get the ball in the red zone and gash us for another touchdown.
Could it have been a better day? Absolutely. Did we win? Hell yes. Now we get a home game at MetLife Stadium against the 1-3 Seattle Seahawks.
Oh, the Seahawks. I find it amazing that one week they're getting blown out and the next week they have the ball on offense for less than 20 minutes and still manage to put up 28 points on the board. Now, obviously, the Atlanta Falcons still beat the Seahawks, but through some miracles, Seattle hanged in there. Check this out:
Atlanta had 25 first downs, 412 yards of offense, and about a 40 minute time of possession.
Seattle had 20 first downs, 372 yards of offense, and about a 20 minute time of possession.
This screams one of two things: Seattle has a very explosive offense or Atlanta has a very crap secondary. Looking at the stats, I'm starting to think that Atlanta has a really horrible secondary. Statistically speaking, the New York Giants - ranked 18th in the league in pass defense - have a better secondary than the Atlanta Falcons - ranked 21st in the league.
That's still no reason fro the 32nd ranked offense in the league - yes, they're still ranked dead last after putting up 28 points - should come into MetLife Stadium, against a brutal defensive front, and come away with a victory. In fact, the reason I think we're going to come away with a win here is entirely based around our defense.
Tavaris Jackson gets hit a lot. On 10% of his passing plays this season, Tavaris Jackson has been sacked. Not hit - sacked. In contrast, Eli Manning is at 8.7%, Matt Cassel at 6.7%, and Matthew Stafford at 3.0%.
You can damn well bet with those numbers that Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, and Jason Pierre-Paul are just licking their chops at the prospect of sacking a quarterback every 10 dropbacks. We're going to need an aggressive front, though, as it's very clear that Seattle's offense is all about its passing game.
Jackson likes to spread the ball around, so our relatively weak secondary is going to have a hard time honing in on one guy. Last week Doug Baldwin was the "star" of their receiving corps, getting 5 receptions for 84 yards, but there's a whole host of Seattle players with 3 receptions for 20+ yards, including:
Of those, only Rice, Williams, and Obomanu had touchdowns; but, my point isn't about touchdowns, it's about how well balanced their passing game is. Each one of those players had 3 receptions, and if we decided to key in on one player and shut them down I guarantee you that Michael Robinson or Leon Washington could step up and make two additional receptions.
To put it another way: our often abused middle is probably going to continue to get abused. With Jackson not married to any one player, the Seahawks can evenly distribute the ball, and force our middle to play very conservative. That's fine though, because our goal on defense is to take away the open field by forcing opponents into the red zone - this takes away the long pass game, and causes enough traffic over the middle that our backs can spread out and cover the corners of the end zone.
This strategy works because we can stop the run up front, and if there's one thing Seattle can't do, it's run the ball. Through four weeks Seattle has a total of 270 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns. They have 17 total first downs from rushing. They average 3.4 yards per rushing attempt.
Unless something completely breaks down and Seattle has an amazing day, Mawshawn Lynch isn't running the ball into the end zone this weekend, but neither is Ahmad Bradshaw. This Sunday, it'll be on the shoulders of Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, and Mario Manningham once again.
The Seattle defense isn't the most spectacular thing in the league, but they're decent at stopping the run, coming in at 14th in the league against the rush. They're also 16th in the league in pass defense; however, what's interesting here is the average yards per carry and reception. While Seattle is stopping the run for an average of 3.2 yards per carry, on defense they're giving up 6.9 yards per catch.
Why does that minor number matter? Our guys - Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, to be specific - are great at one thing: getting the hell out of defenders hands. The Seattle defense is going to need to either play very tight coverage and immediately wrap up and take down our receivers after a catch, or they're going to have to play with a cushion and hope that when we get into the red zone we don't score off of a great catch or simply run the ball.
I just don't like Seattle in this matchup. Not only are they a west-coast team traveling to the east, they're also pretty bad. This is one of those trap games though - you expect the Giants to win because everything is in their favor, and yet they find a way to lose one, at home, against an opponent that is just dead last in a lot of categories.
I don't think that's going to happen. After the lack of focus and mental preparation against Arizona, Coach Tom Coughlin will have these guys focused for their home game against an opponent that can surprise them. I'll take the Giants over the Seahawks 31-17.