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Third Down Is Killing The Giants — On Offense And Defense

This week’s match-up to watch is the Giants against a down — not a player vs. player one

NFL: Detroit Lions at New York Giants Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Each week, I’ll try to find an intriguing match-up to highlight that could be the difference in the upcoming game for the New York Giants. The caveat is I’ll be looking at the match-ups that aren’t quite so obvious. Clearly, the Philadelphia Eagles defensive line vs. the Giants offensive line will play a large role in deciding Sunday’s divisional tilt, but that’s obvious.

First, an interesting statistic. Currently, Eli Manning’s completion percentage sits at 72.9 percent! Talk about misleading statistics. I miss the ball being thrown down field.

Giants vs. Third-Down Conversion Rate

On Defense

Before the season we all had hope the Giants’ offense would take a step forward with the additions of Evan Engram and Brandon Marshall and the continuity of the offensive line. We believed that big things were on the horizon. Clearly, that’s not been the case.

We assumed, though, that the Giants’ defense would be stellar. In 2016, the defense allowed third down conversions at a rate of 35 percent. Early in the season, though, this has been a major problem. The Giants defense is currently allowing third down conversions at a rate of 50 percent, 25th in the NFL. They have allowed first downs on 15 of 30 third-down pays. Teams have had continuous sustained drives, giving the futile offense less chances to get something going. The opponents’ long drives are also causing issues with the Giants’ offense because they have consistently had terrible starting field position. According to Football Outsiders, the Giants have the 29th-worst starting field position in the league.

The Eagles offense has been phenomenal on third down in the early part of the season, converting at 55.2 percent. If the Giants want a chance to win this football game they are going to have to connect on some of their pass-rushing opportunities because Carson Wentz has shown an ability to maneuver in and out of the pocket and make plays down the field.

On Offense

From the offensive perspective, the third down conversion rate is what you would expect from an inept offense. The Giants are converting 33 percent of third downs (8-of-24) at the moment. In an ideal world the Giants would be able to get the rushing game going against the Eagles, who are struggling against the rush (very early in the season) allowing 4.9 yards per rush. Is this something the Giants could take advantage of (not likely)?

Final Thoughts

Third down conversions are often a good indicator of success, and it’s an area the Giants are really struggling with on both sides of the ball early in the year. A trend that can’t continue if the Giants expect to turn things around and make a run for the playoffs.