Against the Cardinals, the Giants accomplished 3 of the Giants360 5 keys to victory and had a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter. By failing to run the ball effectively, and not creating two turnovers, the Giants were unable to seal the deal and ultimately lost a close game, by a score of 25-14. They were leading 14-13 with 10:28 remaining in the game. We have another set of keys for Tom Coughlin and crew this week, and if they are able to accomplish all 5, they should beat the Houston Texans and avoid falling into a 0-3 hole. Teams at 1-2 have a 25% chance to make the playoffs, but losing their third straight drops the Giants playoff chances to only 2.5%, making this game very important to the team’s season.
- Run the Ball. This key will be on every game list until it’s accomplished. It’s especially important against Houston because it will keep the offensive line from having to pass protect. The Texans are vulnerable to the run, giving up 5.80 yard per carry, but opponents have not been able to take advantage as Houston has gotten out to early leads. Texans’ opponents are throwing against them twice as often, 82 drop backs, compared to just 40 rushing attempts. Controlling the ball, and the clock will key a Giant upset.
- Stop the Run. Houston’s run pass ratio of the polar opposite of their opponents, with 79 rushing attempts compared to 42 drop backs. This protects Ryan Fitzpatrick from having to do too much to help the team win games, and prevents the Fitzpatrick turnover machine from operating. Stopping Arian Foster will flip the switch on the turnover machine and the win meter in the Giants direction.
- Keep J.J. Watt blocked. The Houston defense has a lot of talent, but Watt’s is supreme. The Giants are catching a bit of a break with 2014 first overall draft pick Jadaveon Clowney sidelined with a knee injury, but the Texans pressure the quarterback, having 3 sacks, 18 quarterback hits, and 26 hurries. Almost a third of those come from Watt, therefore containing him will give Eli Manning time to operate and expand upon the progress the Giants offense showed in last week’s games.
- Improved Special Teams. Ted Ginn’s punt return for a touchdown followed by Quintin Demps kickoff fumble provided the momentum shift back to the Cardinals as well as the margin of victory for Arizona. An often forgotten, but critical third of the game, special teams can make or break a close contest, and miscues from these units broke the Giants last week. They are correctable mistakes, as Coughlin would say, and immediate corrective action is needed.
- Catch the Ball. Coughlin spoke to Victor Cruz as a team captain and leader and told him more is needed from him and his unit. The Giants are among the league leaders in drops and for an offense that relies on sustaining drives with short passes and yards after catch, this trend must cease. Comfort in the offense and repetition should bring familiarity and more opportunities for big plays, hopefully not before it’s too late.
There are other things that the Giants must do in order to ensure a positive outcome to this game, the biggest of which is improve upon their abysmal -6 turnover ratio. If they accomplish the five keys Giants360 has put forth above, that will come, especially given Fitzpatrick’s turnover history. Manning will throw fewer interceptions if he is not forced to press by having to throw while in third and long or while trying to rally the Giants from behind. This is a winnable game and one the Giants desperately need in order to keep the season from slipping away from them, but whether or not they take it is a matter of hitting on the keys.
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