Three to focus on – Bills @ Giants, Week 6

| October 14, 2011

The Giants are coming off a tough loss to the Seahawks, a game in which they allowed both Tavaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst to dissect their secondary. Eli Manning will need to play better if the G-Men are able to keep pace with the Redskins atop the NFC East.
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They’ll face a tougher challenge in Week 6 with Ryan Fitzpatrick coming to town. The Bills put in another good performance to beat the Eagles and improve to 4-1, primarily behind another outstanding game by Fred Jackson who should be in the running for league MVP.
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1) Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Giants pass defense
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While New York is fairly effective at preventing big plays – thanks in large part to pro bowl safety Kenny Philips – they lack the talented cover men to stops teams from methodically moving down the field on them. With the Bills primarily running a spread attack, added pressure will be placed on the Giants’ nickel.
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Rather than go with an extra corner, Perry Fewell prefers to use Deon Grant in his five-DB package. Grant (-2.2 in coverage) rotates with Antrel Rolle (-6.4 in coverage) to play down in the box, although neither is suited to prevent Buffalo’s short passing attack. Rookie linebacker Jacquian Williams (-0.8) has been solid thus far but below average against the pass, allowing 14 of 17 targets for 103 yards and a pass deflection. His teammate and every-down linebacker Michael Boley has only been slightly better, allowing nine of 14 targets for 110 yards and one PD.
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Ryan Fitzpatrick (+14.6) has amassed almost all of his yardage on underneath throws. Inside 20 yards, he’s completed 109 of 149 passes (73%), for 1100 yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions. Primarily taking three step drops and working out of the shotgun, Fitzpatrick has only been pressured on 19.7% of drop backs (35 of 178) good for second best in the league.
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2) Coping with injury
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The Giants have some significant injury concerns on the right side of their offensive line. Starting right guard Chris Snee (+2.9) missed Wednesday’s practice with a concussion while starting center David Baas (+1.6) was limited with a neck injury. Both have been above average so far this year. The Giant’s lack of depth on the line is concerning as Kevin Boothe (-2.8) and Jim Cordle (-1.2) have struggled. The latter gave up three pressures on just seven pass blocking snaps last week while the former has struggled in the run game.
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The Bills have injury concerns of their own as nose tackle Kyle Williams is hampered by a foot injury. The normally excellent Williams hasn’t quite played up to his lofty standards this year (-2.3) but has still amassed three hits and four pressures on 147 rushes. If Snee or Bass can’t go, a healthy Marcel Dareus looks poised to take advantage. He’s generated a sack, four hits and five pressures in 142 rushes.
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3) New York’s Nicks
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Hakeem Nicks (+3.9) should have a matchup advantage against the Bills. He currently ranks 10th in yards per pass route at 2.39 and is yet to drop a pass, something he’s had trouble with in the past. Buffalo will be thankful to have Terrence McGee back after injury but there are questions about how effective he’ll be after missing five weeks. Playing opposite him will be either Drayton Florence (+0.4) or Leodis McKelvin (-2.1). Florence has given up three TDs but has only allowed 16 of 27 balls to be complete for 220 yards and two interceptions. McKelvin, meanwhile, has only given up one TD but has allowed 18 of 29 balls to be complete for 336 yards and one interception. Whichever player is tasked with covering Nicks will likely have their hands full.
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