The potent passing game of the New England Patriots is not a secret. Even the most casual of fans is aware that Tom Brady threw for 50 touchdowns this past year and many of them went to star wide receiver Randy Moss. There is little doubt that the Patriots will attempt to exploit a battered Giants’ defensive secondary, while the Giant’s offensive game plan will be to establish the running game, hoping to chew-up the clock and keep Brady and the New England offense watching from the sidelines.
Therein lies the chess-match that both teams are looking to partake in this Sunday. For the Giants to have success on Sunday, their offense needs to establish a running game. When Brady and Moss are reduced to spectators for large chunks of the game, the Giants’ defense will be resting on the sidelines. Being able to run the ball on New England has proven to be the key to competing with the undefeated Pats. Let’s take a look at how the passing games of both offenses and the defenses plan on executing their game-plans.
When the Giants have the ball, they will likely try to establish a running game and force the Patriots to committing extra players to stop the run. In their match up in the season’s finale, the Giants ran the ball well early in the contest, but with the game on the line, the Patriots defense was able to keep the Giants ground game in check. If the Giants can run the ball, it will set-up their passing attack.
Eli Manning has been close to perfect in the playoffs this year. Throwing to Amani Toomer and Plaxico Burriss, he’s been able to move his offense down the field without turning the ball over. Should the Giants stay out of 2nd and long and 3rd and long situations, there are many offensive weapons for Manning to utilize to keep his offense on the field and more importantly, keep Tom Brady and the New England offense on the sidelines.
If the offensive line is able to give Manning time in the pocket, look for the QB to take advantage of the size advantage of Burriss by throwing short to medium sideline routes where only Burriss can make the catch. Asante Samuel is the top New England corner-back and will most likely have the job of shadowing Burriss. Amani Toomer has been Manning’s favorite receiver all season and will probably be the go-to guy on key passing plays. Like Burriss, Toomer is very good going over the middle of the field to make catches and can burn one-on-one coverage deep. Drawing the assignment of covering the crafty Toomer, is Ellis Hobbs. Hobbs is an above average cover man, tackles well and can shed a blocker to help out on running plays.
When Tom Brady and the Patriot offense takes the field, expect a mixture of passes and runs. Unlike the Giants who will try to set-up the pass by running the ball, the Pats will look to pass to set up their running game. New England will look to keep the Giants defense guessing by throwing short and medium range passes, while mixing in a few runs. When the Giants seem to be over-committing to a heavy pass-rush, Brady will dump the ball off to running backs Maroney and Faulk looking to catch the Giants out of their containment. Draw plays and traps will can also hurt the Giants on obvious passing downs if NY plays undisciplined.
The game inside the game will played in the trenches between the quick and powerful Giant’s defensive line and the solid Patriot offensive line. If the Giants can not force Brady into making ill-advised throws, then it could be a long day for the Giants. With the likes of receivers Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Dante Stallworth, the Giants can’t allow Brady the time to find one these talented receivers.
Both Moss and Welker had 100+ yard days against the Giants in the season finale and Moss found the end zone twice, on his way to setting a new record for most TD receptions in a season. Add in TE Ben Watson who is an under-rated tight end and it looks like the Giants have their hands full this Sunday. Coming back from injury, is the Giants top corner back Sam Madison, who will probably match-up against Moss most of the day. It remains to be seen how close Madison is to 100%, as this is a huge match-up for New York.
What this game boils down to is, can the Giants run effectively on the Patriots and can they mount enough pressure on Brady to cause turnovers? If either answer is no, the Giants will most likely be playing catch-up for most of the game. Unfortunately for them, they aren’t built to play from too far behind and if they can’t force the Pats into turning the ball over, there isn’t much hope for the Giants.
The Giants must stop the Patriots passing game and they need their passing game to help keep the Pats defense on their heels. The situation is a bit different for New England. They just need to play a bend, but don’t break defense. If they aren’t burned by the long pass, they will remain in the game. As in week 17, Tom Brady will get the offense into gear at some point and the Patriots will strike quickly and often. If the Giants can’t get them out of sync, it could be a long day for the Blue & White.
Enjoy the game, it should be spectacular!!