After two straight losses, can the New York Giants get back to their winning ways on Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers? The NFL schedule makers have done them no favors here, forcing them to travel to Green Bay after a Monday night game while the Packers sit home and wait following a bye.
Let’s look at five things to watch as the Giants try to avoid a third straight defeat.
All eyes will be on the star wide receiver. Will the Packers try to bait Beckham? Will he behave himself? Will the Giants do a better job getting him the ball after a career-low 23 receiving yards Monday vs. the Minnesota Vikings? Will he ever get into the end zone again?
It will help if coach Ben McAdoo remembers, as he said early in the week, that the Giants “have to keep him in our thoughts.”
The Giants aren’t scoring enough. GM Jerry Reese has said that you need to score 28 points to win consistently in the modern NFL. The Giants have yet to reach that mark in four games this season, and have twice failed to even reach 20. They are 27th in the league, averaging 18.2 points per game. They are 28th in the league in red zone offense.
The Giants have too much talent on offense for this to continue. They have a two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback, a terrific trio of receivers and good enough talent at running back and on the offensive line. The offense has to do its part or the Giants aren’t going to win many games.
Sunday night the Giants face a Packers’ defense that has been terrific against the run but that should present the Giants with some opportunities to make plays in the passing game. The Giants need to take advantage of that.
Follow the bouncing ball
The Giants are 30th in the NFL in takeaway/giveaway ratio at -8. They have one takeaway, with that coming on special teams. The Giants’ proclivity for giving the ball away while failing to take it away has got to change. You simply can’t beat good teams consistently when they get more, and better, opportunities, than you do.
Time of possession
Some people view this stat as important, others really don’t care about it. The raw number is that the Giants are 29th in the league in time of possession, averaging 27:07 with the ball through four games.
"I think it’s a team stat more than it is an offensive stat. I think a lot of that is intertwined,” McAdoo told Giants.com. “You’re running the ball; it’s stopping the run. It’s also completing the ball at a high percentage. When you don’t complete the ball at a high percentage, it’s hard to hold onto the ball.”
He’s right, of course. The Giants have not finished enough drives, which means they haven’t held the ball and scored enough points. They have probably abandoned the run too quickly at times on offense. They haven’t pressured the passer consistently on defense, which in the end means they aren’t getting off the field enough on third down. They have turned the ball over too often and not created enough takeaways.
Time of possession by itself does not win or lose games. As a general trend, though, it tells you how the various pieces of your team are doing as a whole. The current trend line shows that the Giants aren’t playing well enough across the board.
Let’s see if that can change Sunday night.
Discipline and poise?
This is another thing we have talked about in detail. Penalties. Turnovers. Clock-management mistakes. Sideline meltdowns. You can’t consistently win games in tough environments in the NFL without discipline and poise, and too much of what has happened with the Giants the past two weeks is an indicator those things have been missing.
The Giants have been their own worst enemy the past two weeks. This is a more talented roster than the Giants have fielded in the past two or three seasons. If, however, that roster is going to get better results the self-inflicted wounds have got to stop.