The New York Giants have lost two straight games and need a victory Sunday both to quell the November swoon talk and maintain some distance between themselves and both the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins in the NFC East.
Here is a look at what to watch on Sunday as they try to get that victory over the Green Bay Packers.
The Giants vs. Randall Cobb
Cobb, a second-year player, is a dynamic weapon for the Packers who can hurt opposing teams in a variety of ways. This note explains just exactly how many:
Cobb is the only player in the NFL with more than 600 kickoff return yards (627), 200 punt return yards (211), 500 receiving yards (574), and 100 rushing yards (115). He leads the Packers in receiving yards, catches with 54 and receiving touchdowns with seven.
Defensively, the Giants have surrendered 47 plays of 20 yards or more, eight of those going for at least 40 yards. On special teams the Giants have given up several long returns in their past two games. Their run defense has also been spotty. So, containing Cobb will be a challenge.
"As far as I know, he’s not selling any programs coming in," Coughlin said of Cobb on Monday, "but he does it all now, and he’s done a good job with it."
Eli Manning vs. whatever has been bugging him
Manning has been awful recently, but has a history of playing well following bye weeks.
The Giants need the inaccurate passes and the poor decisions of the past few weeks to go away. They need the return of the good Eli and not a continuation of the bad Eli if they are going to survive a difficult final six weeks and overcome the challenge of the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East.
Giants' secondary vs. Aaron Rodgers
The Giants have -- to put it simply -- not been good against the pass this season. They have surrendered those previously mentioned 47 plays of 20 yards or more, and are 25th in the league giving up 257.8 yards passing per game. Confusion leading to big plays, poor work at times from veteran Corey Webster and rookie slot corner Jayron Hosley, and difficulty covering tight ends with their linebackers, have all been issues.
If they can't cover adequately, and their vaunted defensive line continues to struggle in rushing the passer, that is a recipe for disaster.
Giants' receivers vs. Packers' secondary
The Packers' secondary hasn't really been any better than the Giants' 25th-ranked secondary this season. The Packers are ranked 21st against the pass giving up 244.4 yards per game, and Green Bay has given up 43 plays of 20 yards or more. When the Giants were playing well earlier in the season they were living on the big play. They need to get back to that against the Packers.
The Giants will be without third wide receiver Domenik Hixon, so either Ramses Barden or Reuben Randle will have to step up. The Giants will also hope that Hakeem Nicks' health has improved, and that Victor Cruz returns to playmaking form.
Who is carrying the mail?
I seem to write about this every week, and here I go again. How will the Giants distribute carries between the still-injured Ahmad Bradshaw, Andre Brown and David Wilson.
It says here that it is time for two things. First, it's time for Brown to get the lion's share of the workload. Second, it's time to take the training wheels off Wilson, see what he can do in terms of providing explosive plays that have been missing recently, and live with it if he screws up.