3TFO: Broncos @ Giants, Week 2
The fact the third ‘Manning Bowl’ was not chosen for any of the three prime-time games in Week 2 is intriguing. Despite three Super Bowl wins between the two famous brothers, the NFL was interested in other matchups.
Whatever. This should be a great game. Eli has lost the previous two ‘Manning Bowls’ but he has one more Championship than Peyton, this is in Eli’s house, and Peyton’s on a different team. That said, Peyton’s seven touchdown passes can’t be overlooked, nor can the job Denver’s defense — without Von Miller and Champ Bailey — did on the defending champion Baltimore Ravens. The Giants’ six turnovers in their loss to the rival Dallas Cowboys also cannot be overlooked. With a banged-up secondary and suspect linebackers, New York may need to rely on Eli’s arm to get this win and avoid an 0-2 start.
Eli vs. Peyton – Episode III
This game could very well come down to which Manning plays better. Everyone knows that Peyton put the league on notice with his seven TD passes, but he wasn’t perfect. “The Sheriff” had several negatively graded throws, including what should have been an interception early in the second quarter by Daryl Smith, who dropped the pick. His last TD to Demaryius Thomas, which went for 78 yards, was more about the speed of Thomas and good downfield blocks from Wes Welker and LT Ryan Clady than anything Peyton did. A great night no doubt, but don’t call it perfect.
On the other side, Eli had a night to forget against the rival Dallas Cowboys last week. His first pass was a horrific interception to DeMarcus Ware, and he would throw two more picks. While the game-sealing pick-six that bounced off Da’Rel Scott’s hands wasn’t primarily blamed on Eli, he should know the risks of throwing to a third-stringer. All three of Eli’s interceptions came without any pressure, which is a concern, but he still fought back with 450 yards and four TDs. Which Manning brother plays better could determine the outcome of this game.
Broncos Receivers vs. Giants Secondary
With the addition of Wes Welker and TE Julius Thomas to an already dangerous group including Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, the Giants’ secondary has every reason to be terrified. Decker had a horrific performance that included a dropped TD and a fumble (albeit out of bounds) against the Ravens. However, the rest of Peyton’s crew combined for 19 catches, 338 yards, and six TDs.
The Giants’ secondary has been ravaged by injuries once again. Starting FS Stevie Brown, who impressed last season, went down with an ACL injury in the preseason, while starting former first-round CB Prince Amukamara was concussed by a fellow teammate in the Dallas loss. Amukamara will not suit up for this contest, leaving Aaron Ross in his place. Ross, a 2007 first-round pick, was a tenured Giant with two Super Bowl rings before leaving for a nice free agent contract with the Jaguars last year. Upon “getting paid” in Jacksonville, Ross went on to allow QBs targeting him an average rating of 109.4. The other CB, Corey Webster, was never given his walking papers, but he did struggle heavily in New York’s defending championship season, “earning” our third-worst coverage grade among CBs. The Giants’ safeties for this matchup will be journeyman Ryan Mundy (who was solid vs. Dallas despite conceding a TD to Jason Witten and injuring Amukamara) and Antrel Rolle (a former first-round pick who has never graded positive in coverage since PFF’s beginning in 2008). On paper, Peyton should be able to throw for another couple hundred yards and a few TDs against this group.
Giants Running Game vs. Broncos Defense
The days of Tom Coughlin’s Giants boasting a deadly running game seem like so long ago. After releasing Ahmad Bradshaw this offseason, David Wilson, the final pick of the first round of the 2012 draft, was supposed to be the bell cow this year. But Wilson’s fumbling problems followed him into this new season as his two giveaways against the Cowboys were crucial. The first was in the red zone and cost them at least three points, while the second was returned for a score. Second-stringer Andre Brown, who made the most of his opportunities last year (+5.8 running grade), is out with a leg injury, as is Da’Rel Scott, apparently injured this week in practice. That helped the Giants re-sign ex-Giant Brandon Jacobs who has two New York rings himself. Jacobs was cut by NY after 2011, cut from the 49ers for his attitude last year, and was benched for throwing his helmet into the stands in the last “Manning Bowl”.
On the other side of the ball is a defense without arguably its best player, Von Miller. Still, this unit limited the Ravens to 58 yards on 21 carries. Some of that had to do with Peyton’s dominance, but this was a 17-14 game Denver was losing at half time. Among the most productive Broncos in run defense last week were Chargers’ castoff Shaun Phillips, undrafted 2012 safety Duke Ihenacho, and 2012 second-round pick Derek Wolfe. Can the Giants successfully gain yards on the ground against the Broncos? Perhaps more importantly, with the injuries and ball-security issues, will they even really try to run the ball?
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