Can the New York Giants cause an apocalypse in the Kansas City Chiefs’ fan base? That is what Tom Childs of SB Nation’s Arrowhead Pride says will happen if the 10.5-point underdog Giants defeat the Chiefs on Monday Night Football.
Somewhat amazingly, and in a sign of the fickle nature of fandom, Giants fans appear to be more confident than Chiefs fans. In our most recent ‘SB Nation Reacts’ poll, 42 percent of fans showed confidence in the 2-5 Giants. Only 23 percent of Kansas City fans showed confidence in the 3-4 Chiefs, despite winning the Super Bowl in 2019 and winning the aFC Championship last season.
Childs seemed to typify that feeling when he told Big Blue View that “at times the Chiefs have looked like their old selves this season, but in general it has been flat out bad.”
Let’s look at some of the things that need to happen Monday night if the Giants are going to pull off an upset.
Points off turnovers
The Chiefs lead the league with 17 giveaways. If Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes gives the Giants interception opportunities, Giants’ defenders actually have to catch the ball. We know that has been an issue too often so far this season. If the Chiefs put the ball on the ground, it has to be the Giants who come away with it.
Then, the Giants’ offense has to do something with those opportunities.
It won’t be enough to just get turnovers. The Giants will have to get points — preferably touchdowns — from those turnovers to come away with an improbable victory.
Limit their mistakes
The Giants can’t turn the ball over. They can’t have coverage breakdowns that lead to big plays. Those things apply to every game. What they can’t do against the Chiefs, though, is shoot themselves in the foot as often as they did in Week 7 against the Carolina Panthers.
The Giants had the ball in Carolina territory five times in the first half. They scored three offensive points.
- Possession 1 — The Giants had a first-and-10 at the Panthers’ 46-yard line. Two negative plays and a false start on Will Hernandez led to a punt.
- Possession 2 — With first-and-goal at the Carolina 2-yard line, the Giants turn the ball over on downs.
- Possession 3 — The Giants reach the Carolina 26-yard line, but an ineligible man downfield penalty on Nate Solder and a drop by David Sills kill the drive. They settle for a Graham Gano field goal.
- Possession 4 — The Giants have first-and-10 at the Carolina 47-yard line. An ineligible man downfield penalty on Matt Peart and an illegal motion penalty on John Ross contribute to killing the drive, and they punt from their own 43-yard line.
- Possession 5 — They have a first down on the Panthers’ 45-yard line, but the drive stalls. An intentionsl grounding penalty on Daniel Jones contributes as the Giants punt again.
That’s five scoring chances. An opportunity for 35 points. The Giants came away with three. That, obviously, is not a winning formula.
Make the Chiefs matriculate the ball
Hall of Fame Chiefs coach Hank Stram is famous for his “keep matriculating the ball down field” quote.
Well, to be honest, that is what the Giants want to the Chiefs to have to do Monday night.
Kansas City was second in the NFL last season with 69 passing plays of 20 or more yards, 4.3 per game. This season they are on pace for 58 such plays, getting 3.8 per game.
Defenses are trying to make Kansas City run the ball. They are playing two-high safeties to prevent the Chiefs from hitting the big play over the top. They are trying to make the Chiefs matriculate the ball down the field rather than hit the quick strike.
The Giants will try on Monday night. The Chiefs, though, still have Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and other playmakers. We will see if they can.
One of the reasons that teams have been able to at least somewhat limit Kansas City’s big-play ability is that they have been able to pressure Mahomes without blitzing. The Giants, as we learned in Mark Schofield’s look at the Chiefs’ offense, have the league’s fourth-worst pressure rate at 19.6 percent.
Still, Azeez Ojulari, Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence had big days last week vs. the Panthers. They need a repeat performance on Monday.
Last week, Jason Garrett dug into his bag of tricks for a pass play to quarterback Daniel Jones. That was cool, it was a turning point in the game and you can bet the Giants have a gadget play or three up their sleeves for Monday night.
Still, it would be nice if the Giants’ special teams would provide them with, well, something special. It seems like forever since the Giants’ special teams have come up with a game-changing play. Off the top of my head, I can’t recall the last big kickoff or punt return for a touchdown, the last blocked punt, the last successful gadget play that counted.
Monday night would be a nice time to change that.