The New York Giants (0-3) and the Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) are on opposite ends of the spectrum at this point in the early goings. While the Giants can't seem to get the offense going, get a defensive stop or hold onto the football, the Chiefs own the best turnover differential in the NFL (+9) and their revamped defense has allowed the second-fewest point total.
Last week the Giants were blanked by the Carolina Panthers. In need of a bounce-back game, the Giants are forced to travel to Arrowhead to face a familiar foe in Andy Reid. Last week, Kansas City trounced the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday Night Football. Here's what to watch when these two teams clash.
1. Giants offensive line vs. the Chiefs defensive front
The Giants offensive line has been putrid through three games this season, and the pass protection and running game cannot get going unless the line can turn things around ... quickly. The problem is that many continue to be plagued by injuries.
David Baas and Chris Snee will not play, and that interior line will have to deal with Dontari Poe, who leads all NFL nose tackles with 3.5 sacks. Rookie Justin Pugh is going to have his hands full with Justin Houston, the team leader with 7.5 sacks, while Will Beatty must contend with Tamba Hali, a week after the left tackle allowed three sacks by Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy.
2. Giants linebackers vs. Jamaal Charles
The giants are giving up 129.3 yards per game rushing (27th in the NFL). Their next challenge comes in the form of the explosive Jamaal Charles.
If the Giants may be able to contain Charles on the ground, the linebackers will still have their hands full if Andy Reid finds a way to get his dynamic back the ball in space. Only two other running backs (Joique Bell, Darren Sproles) have more receiving yards than Charles.
Like Pugh, the Chiefs' rookie tackle Eric Fisher is enduring his fair share of rookie struggles as well. After three weeks, the No. 1 overall pick graded out as the fifth-worst tackle in the league, according to Pro Football Focus. While Branden Albert and perhaps a running back or tight end focus in on Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck should have opportunities to face Fisher one-on-one. Tuck, who has just .5 sack so far, could use a big game to jumpstart his season.
Not only will Tuck have some opportunities to get Fisher, but rookie Damontre Moore may see some more snaps. Earlier this week defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said Moore, Tuck's backup, could get more involved as well. Given Tuck's struggles and Moore's health, it might be time to insert the young pass-rusher and see what he can add to the Giants' sluggish pass rush.
Last week Hakeem Nicks went without a catch as the Giants offense was shutout in Carolina. Should we expect a duplicate performance?
While Nicks, Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin all insist Nicks' comments were overblown, we'll have to see how often Nicks is targeted against the Chiefs' top corner, Brandon Flowers.
Flowers has and continues to nurse a nagging knee injury that has hindered the corner for most of the season. He struggled Week 2 against Dez Bryant and again last Thursday in Philadelphia -- so much that he had to be removed from the game after aggravating the injury.
Flowers has had some extra time to rest the knee, but we'll have to see if it plays a factor against what should be a hungry Nicks.
5. Andy Reid vs. Tom Coughlin
Despite the new city, team and colors, this is still a matchup of familiar foes: Andy Reid and Tom Coughlin. The two have had enjoyed many battles when Reid was at the helm of the Philadelphia Eagles and this game -- twice a year -- made for some of the best football of the season.
It will be interesting to see how these coach's familiarity plays a role when their teams square off on Sunday. This time it's Reid's team with the aggressive defense and efficient quarterback, while Coughlin's Giants are already in desperation mode, seeking a win on the road in a hostile environment.
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