With the New York Giants facing the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, here are six things to watch as the game unfolds.
What about Odell?
Odell Beckham Jr. went for a second opinion on his troublesome quad this week. As I write this, the final injury report is not out yet, but my expectation is that Beckham won’t play vs. the Titans. Or, if he does, it will be a game-time decision. [UPDATE: Beckham ruled out Sunday]
Without Beckham, will Eli Manning and the Giants be able to spread the ball around and get production in the passing game?
Keep the offense rolling
Can the Giants do that? They have averaged 31.4 points over their last five games, including a couple of defensive scores. Can the Giants continue to play well offensively against a Tennessee defense that is fourth in the league in points allowed?
Tackling Derrick Henry
The Titans’ 247-pound halfback had a career day last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars, rushing for 238 yards. It was the first time all season Henry had surpassed even 100 yards. All week, the Giants have emphasized going low to tackle the third-year back.
Defensive coordinator James Bettcher said Henry is “a great stiff-armer.”
Making Marcus Mariota throw ...
... and pressuring him when he does.
The Titans, like the Giants, would prefer to be a run-first team that uses play action and doesn’t ask Mariota to try and direct a high-flying aerial assault. The Titans are, in fact, second-last in the league at 27.8 pass attempts per game.
On BBV Radio this week, Jimmy Morris of Music City Miracles told us that Mariota will look at the pass rush when defenses make him uncomfortable. The Giants need to do that.
The Giants have been outstanding on special teams for most of the season. They are No. 3 in Football Outsiders’ Special Teams DVOA ratings.
The Giants will face a challenge from the Tennesee return game. Darius Jennings is averaging 34.4 yards on 16 kickoff returns, and Adoree’ Jackson is averaging 9.5 yards on 12 punt returns.
The playoff race
Yes, the playoff race. To reach the playoffs, here is what has to happen for the Giants.