Tag Archives: Ahmad Bradshaw

Prognostication Is My Business: Week 3 in the 2012 NFL

Does anyone like Thursday night games? I know the players don’t as several will miss the games with injuries that typically take a full week to almost heal and I’m pretty sure the fans don’t even like it. They can only be seen on the NFL Network and your team will only be on there once a year, which is hardly a reason to switch to dish and they completely ruin Sundays if your team is playing. To be perfectly honest I don’t even like Monday Night Football. I like my Sundays. I digress. The Patriots nearly came from behind, but still lost, in a game they were favored by nearly two touchdowns while the Giants completed the comeback and won by a touchdown. Buffalo had no need for a comeback as they blew out the Chiefs and the Jets had no chance as they were stifled by the Steelers. Let’s see how they will fare this week.

@ Carolina Panthers -2.5 New York Giants

This is an awful spot for the G-Men. Hakeem Nicks, David Diehl, Ahmad Bradshaw and Domenik Hixon are all out. They are on the road against a dynamic player in Cam Newton who can eat up defenses. The reasons why the Panthers are favored is obvious and as a prognosticator I think it’s the safe bet, but induldge me for a moment and I’ll tell you why as a fan I believe they will win. We still have Eli Manning and Victor Cruz. I don’t think Bradshaw is a feature back, so that isn’t a huge loss. They haven’t had the same offensive line seemingly since 2008. Newton is prone to make mistakes in the form of interceptions so the name of the game is contain and force him to pick apart the secondary. Big Blue is a more seasoned team and can take advantage of the up and coming Panthers. Plus the Giants always do the opposite of what you think they will.

New York Jets -2.5 @ Miami Dolphins

Anything can happen in road games and more importantly in divisional games. The Jets look like a mediocre team this year, which is more than you can say for the fish. Sure both teams are 1-1, but the Dolphins had the luxury of playing a west coast team on their home turf, where they all have trouble adjusting to the new time zone. The Jets will have no such problem and will move the ball on that weak d like an offensive lineman on a buffet. Ryan Tannehill will have more growing pains. Off the field he was winning the battle with his smoking hot wife Lauren, but the Jets are pulling closer as Mark Sanchez is dating Eva Longoria. Or are they winning?

Buffalo Bills -3 @ Cleveland Browns

I’m back in on the Bills. Well in certain situations like playing quite possibly the worst team in the league. CJ Spiller is my proudest prediction thus far. Have I mentioned that yet? I think I may have. I believe that Fitzy will have a big game passing for 300 plus yards while there is another dominating performance for everybody’s favorite losers.

@ Baltimore Ravens -3 New England Patriots

My how the mighty have fallen. The Pats looked like they would roll through this season straight into their second straight Superbowl. We knew they would lose a couple, because everyone does, but the Arizona Cardinals? Now the world has lost faith in this squad as they are road dogs. The Ravens lost last week too remember? I think that Belichick has had this game circled on his calendar for months and will be prepared to baffle Flaco, shut down Ray Rice and allow Tom Brady to do what he does best. Pats win on the road.

-Erik

Did I get it right? Let me know what you think via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment.

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The Kneel Down Heard Round the League

Tommy Coughlin was fired up. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

New York Giants 41 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34

Giants fans I was right there with you. “Are you kidding me?” was the first half. “Here we go again,” was the second half. Can’t they ever make things easy on us? My father, who went to see both of the Superbowls under Bill Parcels, told me long ago that it doesn’t matter how you win, a W is a W. Big Blue has never played well with a lead, they can look absolutely horrible against bad teams, and mediocre against great teams, but they’ve been to five Superbowls and won four. This Sunday we watched them play to the level of their opponent as usual and emerge with another fourth quarter victory.

Eli Manning had a rough quarter. In fact both Manning brothers threw three picks in a quarter this past weekend. Unlike big brother, Eli was able to complete the comeback as he was near perfect in the fourth quarter. It was a huge day through the air as Manning racked up 510 yards with nearly 200 going to Hakeem Nicks. Victor Cruz had a bounce back game with 11 catches for 179 yards and a touchdown. Martellus Bennett even got in on the action providing a score to go along with 72 yards. These are the kind of performances you can only find when the team is trailing the way Big Blue was after the three early turnovers.

It was the tale of two halves for Eli Manning on Sunday. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

So what changed? Manning didn’t suddenly get more accurate. Ahmad Bradshaw went out with a neck injury bringing in Andre Brown. Now I’ve never been a big fan of Bradshaw as he is often hurt and middle of the pack in terms of production. The running game hasn’t been there much at all since last season, but when Brown came in the game he got it going for 71 yards averaging nearly 5.5 per carry. When watching the games on television with the national announcers they are quick to point out the lack of continuity, health and push on the offensive line, but listening to the game on radio with Bob Papa, Carl Banks and Howard Cross, who are around the team constantly, they point out several plays designed to one side that Bradshaw will cut back and not follow his blockers. Hopefully the other backs like Brown and the rookie David Wilson, who is currently relegated mostly to kick returning after his week one fumble, will help this line gain confidence and help open the passing game.

Defensively the secondary looked out matched against Vincent Jackson especially in the first half. They made adjustments throughout the game and even got two picks off of Josh Freeman. Jason Pierre Paul and Chase Blackburn each picked up their first sack of the season. Normally giving up 34 points is an extremely poor defensive performance, but here there was one touchdown scored by the opposing defense and they were faced with short fields. In the second half the Giants won 27-10. And the one touchdown was scored on a very well covered route, but the ball bounced off the helmet of Justin Tryon, who really played a very nice game.

The real story coming out of this game had nothing to do with all of what I’ve talked about thus far. It was the final play of regulation as Big Blue lined up in victory formation to take one final kneel down, as they had done to close out the first half, and what looked like a formality turned into a controversy. The Bucs went for it as they bowled over the offensive line looking to create a fumble for the last ditch effort of a scoop and score to tie the game. It didn’t work and Tom Coughlin was mildly perturbed with rookie head coach Greg Schiano’s tactics.

I believe there is no right or wrong here. The line could have prepared themselves to make one more block, but the Bucs were making a desperate move. It had nothing to do with playing until the final whistle because in the same game they allowed the Giants to kneel to end the first half. I don’t like the fact that they did it as I believe they should have taken the defeat like men, but there was certainly nothing wrong with it.

-Erik

How did you feel about the kneel? Let us know what you think via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment.

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Five Giant Questions

Despite the beds the Giants were back in Albany to prepare to defend their title.

Tomorrow marks the first day of the NFL season as the reigning Superbowl champion New York Giants host the Dallas Cowboys. The G-Men will begin their defense of the title missing a few heroes from this past season and some new faces looking to fill their shoes. No team goes into the season without a few questions and before I give my official prediction for the opener I will ask and try to answer some of those facing Big Blue.

1. Can the Giants produce more consistency in the running game?

Ahmad Bradshaw is an above average back, but last season the Giants ranked near the bottom of the league in rushing yards. Obviously this didn’t hurt their ability to win games when it mattered because Eli Manning took the next step forward in his progression by putting the team on his shoulder pads, but can he do it again? Let’s face it at 9-7 they were lucky to get into the playoffs and thanks to some key defensive players getting healthy put together an impressive run

Can David Willson be this year’s breakout rookie and stabilized the running game? (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

through the post season. This year the Eagles will get better as they have a second season with the same players and coaching staff with last season being a transitional period. The Giants will need the ground game to take time off the clock to put away teams in the fourth quarter. Bradshaw hasn’t shown the ability to stay healthy, but the rookie David Willson looks to make an impact immediately.

2. Who will be the leading receiver this season?

Victor Cruz was an unbelievable breakout star for the Giants last year. It was his ability to turn underneath routes into home-run plays that helped turned the tide of many games in the favor of New York. Fans have to be a little wary of the sophomore slump, but I don’t think that will be a problem. Cruz has now had a full training camp and what he does well doesn’t disappear. He is a precise route runner with elusive speed who showed last season during the playoffs what he could do even when teams began game planning against him. I expect Cruz to start slow as Hakeem Nicks works his way back from injury and without Mario Manningham to provide a proven third option. This is the make or break year for Ramses Barden, who did have a good camp, but we’ll see if that can translate to the playing field. I don’t believe it will. Reuben Randle however is someone to be excited about. He was a steal at the bottom of the second round and could make a big impact when called upon. All that being said by week four I anticipate Nicks will have a breakout game and Cruz will establish himself as Manning’s favorite target.

3. Can the aging D-Line stay healthy?

It wasn’t until Osi and Tuck both got healthy at the same time that the Giants started making people notice how good this team was. JPP had a breakout year as he saw less blockers early in the year then, when he garnered more attention, the healthy veterans took over down the stretch. If Tuck and Osi can be on the field for double digit games this year I predict JPP will lead the league in sacks. He is still relatively new to football and he is learning. Similar to Cruz I believe a full camp will help JPP emerge as the most dominant defensive force in the NFL this season. Jared Allen, DeMarcus Ware, your time is over. However, if he doesn’t have a full complement of defensive lineman around him it will be a difficult season.

2. Will there be a Superbowl hangover?

No team has repeated as champion since the Patriots in ’04. Cruz wrote a book and made more appearances on talk shows than his distant relative Tom

Can Tommy Coughlin keep Big Blue focused all season? (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

Cruise. Hopefully he was studying the playbook in his off days. My favorite line from The Dark Knight Rises comes from Bane when he is kicking the living crap out of Bruce Wayne and he bellows: “Victory has defeated you.” That is the danger of becoming complacent with success. Becoming wrapped up in everything off the field. There are two people who won’t fall victim: Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning. I think they will set the tone in the locker room this season and if 2008 is any indicator of how they handle success, they will be just fine. As long as nobody shoots themselves.

1. How will the Giants fare this season?

My completely biased opinion: 11-5. In typical Giants fashion there will be highs and lows, but in the end they will return to the playoffs and look similar to the world beaters they were in 2008.

-Erik

How would you answer these five questions? Let us know via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment.

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NFL Draft Grades: The New York Giants

If you’re looking for exciting trades, marquee players and questionable picks sure to spark controversy, you’ve come to the wrong place (If that’s your thing don’t worry the Jets grade is coming soon). However, if you are looking for an organization built upon consistency, calm under pressure, an unwillingness to make flashy moves and two of the last four Super Bowl rings, then the Giants are the team for you.

With Brandon Jacobs gone the G-Men look to first round pick David Wilson to help carry the load.

First Round-Pick No. 32 David Wilson RB, Virginia Tech

One thing I never want to do is lie to our readers. I am not a fan of college football, so if I told you glowing things about this Hokie it would be all based on conjecture and second hand information from ESPN experts. What I can tell you is that the Giants needed a running back. Big Blue parted ways with Brandon Jacobs this off season and backups like DJ Ware and Da’Rel Scott not looking like the solution this should have been a top priority on the Giants board. While many have glowing opinions of Ahmad Bradshaw, this writer does not. He is above average, but not a top ten back and has shown a propensity for foot injuries. Wilson can also provide help on special teams. In 2007 Bradshaw and Hixon provided a spark in the return game and hopefully Wilson will do the same. Wilson was the ACC Offensive Player of the Year as he generated 1,709 yards with nine touchdowns on 290 carries. He posted ten 100-yard rushing games and at 5′-9″ and 205 lbs looks to be a wrecking ball at the next level.

Second Round- Pick No. 63 Rueben Randle WR, LSU

How do you replace the man who made the catch that won the Super Bowl? Draft a steal in the late second round. Mario Manningham had a solid career in Big Blue serving as a reliable second or third option for quarterback Eli Manning and proved the value of depth in the receiving core in the playoffs as teams focused on Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. Even with the loss of Manningham, the receiving core is still a strength of the Giants because in part of their quarterback. Perhaps the Giants overvalued Randle, but when they passed on him they believed they missed their only shot at the wide receiver. “He’s NFL-ready – he runs the entire route tree,” general manager Jerry Reese said. “In this day and age in college football, it’s all about the spread offense, and

Rueben Randle practicing his salsa? Giants fans hope so.

guys don’t run the full tree. This kid runs the full tree. He kind of looks like a big, pro wide receiver out there with how he runs routes. I think he’s going to be a quick fit into the offense with how he plays; he’s big, he can post guys up.”

Third Round- Pick No. 194 Jayron Hosley CB, Virginia Tech

In today’s NFL every team needs help in the secondary. Teams are airing it out like never before and with the Giants’ potent pass rush they need players who can create coverage sacks and take advantage of poor throws which result from the pressure. Corey Webster and Aaron Ross had an excellent season with 10 picks between them, but Ross is now in Jacksonville. Prince Amukamara showed some flashes in his rookie season, but got burned on a few routes and was benched in several games. There is room for Hosley in the Giants’ secondary and as a contributor on special teams. This pick may not be a home run, but it adds depth and Tom Coughlin likes the character of the 5’10” corner. “He’s a very competitive and feisty guy,” said Coughlin. Fans saw what that spirit can bring to the team when Chase Blackburn returned and created a spark.

Fourth Round- Pick No. 127 Adrien Robinson TE, Cincinnati

Up until this pick everything made sense. The Giants’ front office did a good job of identifying areas of need and finding multi-tool guys who can help the team. This was the one pick where they reached just a bit. Robinson, who only started one year with the Bearcats, is seen as a work in progress and was projected to go undrafted. He is an impressive athlete with surprising speed for his size, but needs to work on his blocking skills before he will see the field. Tight end was a position of need, but Jake Ballard and Bear Pascoe have proven to be dependable options at that position so Robinson has time to develop. “We really think this guy has a huge upside,” GM Jerry Reese said. “He is a big, big man; long arms. He didn’t catch a lot of balls for them. But he is kind of a late bloomer who has really come on. And we think this guy is kind of a JPP of tight ends.” Anytime you compare someone to JPP the fans will love it.

Fourth Round- Pick No. 131 Brandon Mosley OT, Auburn/Sixth Round Pick No. 201 Matt McCants OT, UAB

I’ll combine these two picks because let’s face it offensive line is important, but uninteresting. As we’ve seen over the past two seasons you can never have too many offensive linemen. The Giants have had to shuffle guys around as virtually everyone on the line has dealt with injuries. Neither one of these picks is projected to have an immediate impact. They will start far down on the depth chart and probably won’t see the field this season, although Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com called Mosley, “the third day gem.” Speaking candidly the third day in the draft is not something I paid attention to because after all we have baseball and basketball and hockey playoffs.

Seventh Round- Pick No. 239 Markus Kuhn DT, NC State

There are seven rounds? I’ll let Jerry Reese explain this pick: “He has only played a limited about of time,” Reese said of Kuhn. “But he is a gym rat: big, strong, tough, great to put in your D-line rotation. Obviously, he is still learning. I think he speaks three languages – something like that. But he is fun to watch. He is the Mitch Petrus of defensive tackles. He is a like a buzzsaw in there. He is big. I wouldn’t call him a pass rusher. But he stays busy in there and he is a slugger.” Not really sure how three languages factors into anything related to football, but he’s a seventh round pick.

GM Jerry Reese found plenty of value at the bottom of each round along with a couple starters to fill the void left in free agency.

Overall Grade: B

To be fair, when you’re the reigning champs it’s difficult to get an A drafting so late. The Giants placed a high priority on drafting versatile guys who can add depth. In a season where the G-Men were hampered by injuries we saw how important these late round guys can be. They will groom the raw athletes into future contributors while their early choices look to step into roles immediately. The best pick value-wise was the second round selection of Rueben Randle. I don’t predict a Victor Cruz-like rookie season, but I do think he will be a viable third option and fill in for Manningham nicely.

-Erik

How did the Giants do in the draft? Let us know what you think via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment.

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It’s Hard Out Here for the Champs

Super Mario is headed for the West Coast. How will the Giants fill the open slot? (Photo: US PRESSWIRE)

Last off-season the headlines for the New York Football Giants were all about the losses. Steve Smith, Kevin Boss and Barry Cofield all left for free agency and when training camp finally opened there were more injuries than snaps. So far this off-season it is the same story. All losses with no additions.

The big blow came when the Giants decided to let go Brandon Jacobs. I have been Jacobs’ biggest supporter throughout his decline because of his potential. In many ways his career with the G-Men was similar to that of Jeremy Shockey. At first both were intimidating figures who could make plays by bulldozing smaller players in the secondary, but after a couple seasons both seemed hesitant to do so. I’ve said that when BJ is running right he is the “Baddest Man in the NFL,” but this season we didn’t see much of that man this season. His presence on the team could ignite his fellow players to either step up their intensity or hang their heads in shame as he shot off his mouth. Jacobs gets a lot of credit for the end of the season run when he started taking the Jets game personally and put the chip on the Big Blue shoulder pads. As a character he will be missed, but as a back the Giants will move on.

This move is concerning because of the fragility of Ahmad Bradshaw. Analysts talk about the great ground game for the Giants, but last season it was a myth. Bradshaw has had difficulties with his feet in recent years and it is a concern as to how many games he will be available for over the coming years. Also I don’t believe he is a premier feature back. That’s just my opinion and I think his stats back it up with only one season of 1,000 plus yards. Even worse is DJ Ware, the current third string running back. He hasn’t come in and made the kind of impact that Bradshaw had in 2007 when he completed the Earth Wind and Fire trio. The Giants will probably look to pick up another back either through free-agency with guys like Joseph Addai, Cedric Benson and Ryan Grant available, or through the draft.

For the second time in the Giants’ past two Super Bowls the man who made the catch won’t be returning. Mario Manningham signed with the San Francisco 49ers with seemingly little competition from Big Blue. During the post season run Manningham became an important part of the receiving core as teams focused heavily on Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. While this shouldn’t be a major blow, it does leave a position that needs to be filled. Domenik Hixon has been resigned coming off his second knee surgery. I have never been a believer in Hixon as a receiver because he hasn’t shown the route running ability nor separation to be a starting wide receiver. Signing big name free agents has never been the Giants game and I don’t expect a significant amount of money to be spent here.

Taking a page out of the Jets book the Giants went out and filled the most important position on the bench: backup quarterback. David Carr will be coming back to do what most backups do while he holds the clipboard and rocks a backwards hat. On the defensive side of the ball it looks like the Giants will bring back Osi Umenyiora despite the tumultuous negotiations of the off-season. With Osi on the D-line there is no question the Giants were a better football team and look to continue that for one more contract.

-Erik

What moves should the G-Men make? Let us know what you think via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment.

 

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The Giants’ Road to the Super Bowl: Day 3

(Associated Press - Julio Cortez)

 

It’s getting closer. If the players are half as pumped as the fans their hearts must be beating so fast and finding it difficult to sleep. But these guys are professionals and most have been here before. Brady and Belichick have won the most Super Bowls of any coach/quarterback tandem and Eli and Coughlin look for their second. Both the Giants QB and coach look to cement their legacy in the history books as two rings takes borderline guys and makes them made men. All the doubters of Manning will have to eat their words and I have been Coughlin’s biggest hater, so I will write why he is our coach of the future and I will have to write that. Here is your third installment of “Why I know my team will take home the Lombardi Trophy.”

Health

Last year when the Packers went on their Cinderella run they were the least healthy team in the league. Coming into this year the Giants seemed to lose a defensive player every other week from the secondary. While they haven’t gotten most of those players back, this team is peaking in performance and health. In the week nine match up with the Pats, Hakeem Nicks and Ahmad Bradshaw were out with injuries and Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora played, but didn’t look like they were at full strength. Now Nicks is a star, Bradshaw is healthy and Osi and Tuck look to put on another clinic in pass rush.

-Erik

Giants fans, do the Patriots stand a chance against this healthy squad? Give us your best trash talk via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment.

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The West is NOT the Best

This year’s NFC Championship game promises to be an exciting one. The Giants got an exhilarating win last week over the defending champion Packers going in as 8 point dogs and coming out 17 point winners. A post game text from my cousin read: “I’m about to cry.” It was amazing. The running game disappeared again, but that’s ok because the next opponent is the San Francisco 49ers and nobody can run the ball on that defense. Players have revenge on their mind for the close loss earlier in the year, which ended on an Eli Manning interceptions while fans will be thinking back further in history. Eight years ago the debacle by the bay went down and from that game the “No Calling or Texting about the Game During the Game” rule was born. When Big Blue was up by 24 I got a call from my brother and we congratulated each other on the impending victory because in those days it was unheard of for the Giants to score 38 points. Never again. With that lesson learned let’s take it back to the future.

New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers -2.5

I don’t want to get too cocky because what everyone has already forgotten is the 49ers just beat a very good Saints team last week. I was rooting for them believing that there was no way the Giants could go down to the Super Dome and out-duel Drew Brees, but now San Fran looks dangerous. However, the Giants are road warriors and how about this nugget from the Elias Sports Bureau: The Giants are Giant killers in the postseason. In terms of difference of wins during the regular season, the Giants have authored the 3 biggest wins in NFL postseason history. The Giants have defeated three teams that had won at least 5 more games than they did during the regular season. In fact, they own the two 6-win differential games with Sunday and back in Super Bowl XLII when they knocked off the unbeaten Patriots. It is difficult to beat a team twice in one season and in the first match up linebacker Michael Boley went down to injury and was out during the majority of the four game losing streak. Now Boley is back and picked up two sacks last week. This is an improved Giants team offensively and defensively. In the last meeting they made huge plays in the passing game and fans can expect more of that in the NFC Championship game. Can you believe this Giants team is one game away from the Super Bowl?

The Coach

After the loss to the 49ers in the regular season I praised rookie head coach Jim Harbaugh for his offensive game plan and criticized my least favorite coach Tom Coughlin. A guy can change his mind right? As impressive as this season has been for Harbaugh experience has to count for something. Coughlin plays a conservative style of football relying more on player performance than strategy, but thus far it has paid off. It is a bad idea to try to change a team’s identity in the playoffs and nobody will ever accuse Coughlin of being progressive, but he learns from his mistakes and last week when coach Mike McCarthy tried an on-sides kick, which worked for San Fran in the regular season, Big Blue wasn’t fooled.

The Quarterback

It may not feel like it to many people, but this is actually a duel between former number one picks taken in consecutive years. Eli Manning has clearly been the more successful of the two as Alex Smith failed to record a winning season before this year. Let’s not make this complicated. Manning wins this category. Smith practices better ball security, but Manning has more postseason experience and better big-play ability.

The Defense

As well as the Giants defense has played down the stretch the 49ers have had a great defense all season. Their rush defense is a brick wall and they have guys who can get after the quarterback. The ineptitude of their offense in the red zone is only exceeded by the stoutness of their defense. Plus the G-Men aren’t very good at stopping the run and Frank Gore is healthy again unlike in their regular season meeting.

The Hinge

The first week it was the pass rush, but again Smith is a fairly mobile quarterback and the 49ers like to move the pocket, last week it was the turnover battle and this week I’m going to give it to the ground game. I know I said it is nearly impossible to run on this defense, but the Giants can’t abandon the running attack and I know Kevin Gilbland won’t do that, ever. If Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw can pick up positive yardage that will help open up the passing game. What makes a defense great, like the Giants pass rush, is when the guys up front on the line of scrimmage do their job without having to bring extra players in from the secondary. If the G-Men force San Francisco to bring in more guys to load the box, Manning will light them up like a doobie in the Haight-Ahsbury.

Bonus Pick: Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots -7

According to some stats collected by the research crew at Mike and Mike the Ravens will win the Super Bowl this year because they are the only team with an offense and defense ranked higher than 25th still alive. No team has won it all with a lower ranking. This is a funky year and it will bunk the trend. I see a close tough game with a Brady game winning drive, but it will be less than a touchdown difference. Giants Pats rematch? I love it.

-Erik

Will Big Blue punch their ticket to Indianapolis this weekend? Let us know what you think via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment.

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G-Men Keep Rolling

The Baddest Man in the NFL and Big Blue are traveling to Lambeau (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

New York Giants 24 Atlanta Falcons 2

Eli Manning’s home playoff record was nothing spectacular. In fact he hadn’t won a single home playoff game in his eight year career. This season the Giants weren’t very effective running the ball. In fact they were worst in the league. The Giants defense had a good pass rush, but gave up a ton of points this season. In fact they were in the bottom 10. So what would you expect from this game? How about Manning leading the Giants to a 24-2 victory with a resurgent running game and the defense pitching a shut out? Not what you expected? Maybe you should have.

With all of those stats against them and their propensity for laying an egg at home, New York entered this game only three point favorites. The team that showed up yesterday looked more like the team that went the distance in 2007 than the team that got beat by the Washington Redskins only three weeks prior. The day started slowly for Manning and the offense with consecutive three and outs before Jake Ballard caught a 13 yard pass, which was quickly followed by yet another punt. The offensive unit actually gave up the only points of the game for the Falcons on their next possession when Manning was under pressure and flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone resulting in a safety. As bad as things may have looked for Big Blue at the beginning of the game, it all turned as the running game picked up.

Brandon Jacobs cracked off a 34 yard run as part of his 92 yard day setting up Hakeem Nicks’ first touchdown of the day. That was all the Giants needed, but for good measure Manning threw three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Nicks had six catches for 115 yards while Mario Manningham made an appearance with 68 yards and a touchdown. Despite only two receptions Victor Cruz came up clutch with a 22 yarder on a third and long. Teams are going to double Cruz the rest of the way giving Nicks and Manningham opportunities to step up and if yesterday was any indication, they will.

The most surprising stat of the game was the 172 total running yards for the Giants. Jacobs finally looked like the baddest man in the NFL again and Ahmad

Hakeem Nicks celebrates his 72 yard touchdown with the Dirty Bird. Who else remembers Jamal Anderson? (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Bradshaw was no slouch (or was he a tremendous slouch? Caddyshack anyone?) with 63 yards on 14 carries. The offensive line created holes allowing Bradshaw and Jacobs to get into the defensive backfield where they do damage. Poor tackling in the secondary hurt the Falcons on Nicks’ 72 yard touchdown catch and run when the entire team collided like the bad guys on Scooby Doo.

Defensively the Giants allowed less than 300 yards and zero points. In the game preview I said the key would be whether or not the pass rush could get pressure on Matt Ryan and while they only collected two sacks the Falcons quarterback didn’t live up to his “Matty Ice” persona. The most important plays of the game were two big stops on fourth downs. For their first attempt Ryan did his best to draw the defensive line offsides and when that failed he was stuffed on a QB sneak attempt. The second attempt was a straight sneak on a quick snap and Ryan didn’t go anywhere as the Giants stood tough with Justin Tuck reaching over the line and pushing Ryan back by the top of his helmet. Osi Umenyiora finally looks like the ’07 Osi as he consistently got pressure and finally broke through for a sack late in the game.

Last year when the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl they went into the playoffs with a dismal running game and a stellar pass rush In their first playoff match up against the Philadelphia Eagles they stunned the league with former University of Buffalo running back James Starks and the wishbone. Next the beat the super softee Falcons and the rest is history. So the Giants showed they can run the ball and they have beaten the Falcons like the Packers and Arizona Cardinals (in their Super Bowl year) before them. In their regular season match up with the Packers it was a close game that came down to the last possession. Next week in the frozen tundra, Big Blue is sure to play in a classic match up.

Check back Friday for our Giants/Packers preview.

-Erik

How good did the Giants look yesterday? ’07 Super Bowl good? What is the Giants’ biggest concern for next week’s game? Let us know what you think via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment.

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When They’re Good, They’re Great

Love seeing Romo on the ground. How sick is this picture? Nice job Julio Cortez of the Associated Press.

New York Giants 31 Dallas Cowboys 14

With the NFC East title on the line Giants fans were cautiously optimistic as they welcomed the Dallas Cowboys to the Meadowlands. With the extreme highs and lows the G-Men have displayed this season it was more than fair to wonder if they would have a let down after a big win over the Jets last week. However, this team plays better with external motivation and the good Giants showed up and played one of their best games of the season securing a playoff spot with a 31-14 victory.

The rallying cry for the team getting behind quarterback Eli Manning all season has been: “You can’t spell elite without Eli.” Last night Manning showed what separates him from the very good of the league, like Tony Romo as he set the record for fourth quarter touchdowns throwing his 15th of the season hitting Hakeem Nicks in the back corner of the end zone. Manning completed 24 of his 33 attempts for 346 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. When Manning doesn’t turn the ball over, the Giants are a tough team to beat. Eli fell 67 yards shy of becoming the fourth quarterback to reach 5,000, but he and Tom Coughlin and fans of Big Blue are much happier with his improved TD-INT ratio. It is incredible to think how well Manning has played after losing two of his favorite targets in the off season, with Kevin Boss and Steve Smith leaving for free agency, and a constantly changing offensive line.

A huge part of the success of Manning has been the emergence of wide receiver Victor Cruz. You can’t spell victory without Victor. Last night the rookie out of

You can't spell elite without Eli, and you can't spell victory without Victor. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

UMass had another huge game with his second straight 50 plus yard touchdown catch and run with a 74 yarder. It’s not quite 99 yards, but it all counts the same, unless you’re playing fantasy. In the fourth quarter it was Cruz again who saved Manning has he scrambled in the pocket and heaved up a ball that Cruz positioned himself perfectly to come down with as he boxed out the DB. Overall Victor picked up six catches and 178 yards in addition to his first quarter touchdown.

While the Giants still look one dimensional without any running game, Ahmad Bradshaw still had a big game with two touchdowns including one rushing. Big Blue has struggled this season on short yardage situations so last night there were a couple guys who stepped up and picked up big first downs. Bear Pascoe, filling in for the injured Jake Ballard, had two catches for 14 yards, both of which went for first downs. Pascoe showed some athleticism, but the Cowboys also were shaky tackling last night. Fullback Henry Hynoski also gave fans something to cheer about as he picked up four catches for 31 yards and the “Hynoceros” hurtled over Terrence Newman, who got burned all night.

Defensively the pass rush came to play with six sacks. Osi Umeniyora was back from his ankle injury last night and came up with two of the sacks and Justin Tuck, who has been extremely ineffective, has three sacks in his last five games including one last night. Chris “Canty? Oh yes he can” picked up a sack as did Jason Pierre Paul. You can’t spell pressure without one of the P’s from JPP. Eh that one doesn’t work so well. It’s safe to say Romo was uncomfortable in the pocket, but the secondary still looked suspect.

Romo missed a couple wide open receivers and when the Cowboys picked up the tempo in the second half, the DBs for Big Blue got beat. They were completely unable to stop the quick slant routes. The Cowboys were also the beneficiaries of poor tackling and it looked as though the comeback was there for the taking. Dallas seemed to beat themselves as they found away to keep the pass rush at bay for most of the second half. Antrel Rolle got a pick, but the Giants failed to capitalize.

Going forward the secondary will face the elite quarterbacks in the league and fans have to be worried about the secondary. Fortunately they drew the super soft Atlanta Falcons in the first round. Right now I’m not looking ahead. Giants fans let’s celebrate this drubbing of the Cowgirls a few days longer and comeback Friday for SeeYouInOctober’s official NFC playoff preview.

-Erik

What is the biggest concern for the Giants going into the playoffs? Let us know what you think via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment.

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New York is Feeling Blue (In a Good Way)

Sanchez was in trouble all day against the Giants pass rush. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

New York Giants 29 New York Jets 14

The battle for supremacy in the Meadowlands looked less like a battle and more like sibling rivalry as the Giants emerged victorious over the Jets 29-14. The Giants showed the running game they had been lacking all season with 115 yards combined from Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs and DJ Ware. It was a true team win as there wasn’t one player who dominated the game start to finish. The running game added two touchdowns to the 100 plus yard performance while Victor Cruz carried the receiving core with a record setting 99 yard score on a catch and run and the defense looked sacktastic putting Mark Sanchez on the ground 5 times.

It was the good Giants team that showed up for this game as they practiced better ball security than the Jets with only one turnover coming off a tipped pass. Sanchez was the beneficiary of the tuck rule on a would be sack from Jason Pierre Paul with a fumble recovery from Justin Tuck, but even with that erased the Jets QB still turned the ball over three times throwing two picks and putting another one on the ground. Sanchez also hurled up a surefire interception that was dropped by safety Deon Grant, who looked more like a center fielder settling under a routine pop fly than a DB.  As previously mentioned the stat line for the G-Men was not spectacular as Eli Manning only completed nine passes on the day. Even Tim Tebow thinks a QB should at least get double digit completions. However, with Bradshaw looking back to form and the offensive line improved with center David Baas back in the mix, Manning didn’t need to carry the team.

The reemergence of the pass rush was the most promising sign from the Giants victory led, as usual, by JPP who picked up two sacks. Chris Canty gave Big Blue two points on a safety and Tuck picked up only his fourth sack of the season and first in three games. The Jets running game was kept in check for the most part as Gang Green only managed 105 yards on 25 carries and one touchdown from Sanchez. Corey Webster and Kenny Philips picked off Sanchez for the two interceptions making it two weeks in a row that Webster made an interception after a month long drought.

The Jets were also devastated by penalties committing 10 infractions for 95 yards. One such penalty, a push off called on Plaxico Burres, wiped out a touchdown and a late hit penalty called on Aaron Maybin gave the G-Men an additional 15 yards after a 17 yard pick up from Ware. Outside of one horrible delay of game penalty where Manning was still trying to get the play off after the flags had been thrown and whistles had been blown, the Giants showed discipline that would make Tom Coughlin smile. This blog has been driving the “Giants Suck Fire Coughlin” bandwagon for weeks now in part because the things that Coughlin gets praised for, such as discipline, seem to be more myth, perception and theory than fact. With Rex Ryan’s team nobody expects discipline because he doesn’t claim to instill it in his team, but Coughlin is the most disciplined coach in the league, yet his teams are routinely penalized.

Ryan showed a serious lack of discipline, judgment and intelligence after the loss when he allegedly approached Jacobs, used an expletive and said, “Wait till we win the Super Bowl.” Added Jacobs: “And I told him I’ll punch him in the face,” according to an article on ESPN New York. In his post game interview with Sal Palantonio, Jacobs didn’t mince words about his opinions of Ryan and even made mention of the sideline incident between Buddy Ryan and Kevin Gilbride.

Fans have to be excited about the fire they see from this Giants team. The difference between the good Giants team and the bad Giants team is the level of intensity. Next week they will put their season on the line yet again with a winner-take-all divisional-match up with the Dallas Cowboys and Tuck has already come out with more Cowboy hate. The biggest difference between the Giants and Cowboys is, outside of their two games with Philadelphia, the Cowboys haven’t gotten blown out. The Giants have put up some real clunkers where it looked as though their hearts weren’t in it. With the division on the line and a trip to the playoffs, it is hard to believe they  will come out flat, but it wouldn’t be surprising. One thing they do very well that the Cowboys do poorly is finish games, which has to give the G-Men a slight edge.

For Gang Green, they have handed the keys to their playoff future to the Cincinnati Bengals. If Andy Dalton and the Bengals win, they’re in and knock the Jets out of the playoffs for the first time in Ryan’s tenure with the team. Cincinnati has a tough game with the Ravens as Baltimore has their eye on the number three spot ahead of the Steelers as the two teams could flip flop if Baltimore doesn’t take care of business. It is very likely the Bengals will get beat, but the Jets also would benefit with loses from the Titans and Raiders. I think. Figuring out the NFL playoff scenarios is about as easy as a Rubik’s cube: Every move has some sort of implication on the final outcome and there are plenty of people who can do it, I’m just not one of them.

-Erik

Who has a better shot of making the playoffs: Jets or Giants? Let us know what you think via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment.

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