With their Thursday night game already in the books, the Chiefs have the unique advantage of taking an early look at their next opponent on Sunday afternoon. The New York Giants head to Carolina to square off against the Panthers for their third game of the season.
So far, the 2013 New York Giants look a lot like the 2012 Kansas City Chiefs. They’ve quickly fallen to 0-2 with a formula the Chiefs are all too familiar with – a deadly combination of turnovers on offense, and the lack of a pass rush on defense. Fixing these issues will be vital for the G-men as the season progresses, particularly if they intend on climbing out of the two-game hole they’ve created.
Sunday’s contest at Carolina will interest Kansas City players and coaches, as they determine whether or not New York’s recent struggles are a part of their team DNA, or are simply the result of a two-week streak of bad luck. If you plan on watching the game tomorrow, look for either improvement, or persistence of the following issues:
When it comes to turnovers, we know that the pendulum always swings back. In football, things tend to even out over time. It’s just hard to determine the sample-size needed for things to once again become even. Take the Chiefs for example. They ended 2012 with a turnover differential of -24, tied with Philadelphia for dead last in the NFL. This year Kansas City leads the NFL with 9 takeaways, and 0 giveaways, four better than the next best team (Seattle, +5).
The New York Giants are the worst in the NFL in turnovers thus far, as they sit at -8 after two weeks thanks to Eli Manning’s seven interceptions in that span. In 2012 they were +14, good for fourth in the league. It looks as if the bad turnover voodoo has drifted from Kansas City straight to New York. If the Giants want to start playing winning football, they’re going to have to stop the bleeding. If they can’t, the Chiefs will be licking their chops when Week 4 rolls around.
Can the Giants cure the turnover bug before it’s too late? Of course. One thing that could help Manning would be offensive balance, which leads us to our next item to watch for on Sunday:
Offensive Balance –
The Giant’s stable of running backs currently consists of David Wilson, Da’Rel Scott and Brandon Jacobs. This unit isn’t striking fear into the heart of any defensive coordinator, but should be much better than they’ve been. Over 2 games, Giant running backs have combined for 65 yards on 31 carries, for an abysmal 2.01 ypc average. Yikes.
If New York is going to take pressure off of Eli Manning, they’re going to need one of these guys to step up; and in order for any one of the above-mentioned backs to get into any kind of rhythm, the Giants coaches are going to have to actually run the ball. Think about this: the Giants have run 124 plays so far in 2013. The running backs have had a combined 31 carries. Eli Manning has two carries for a measly 8 yards, and has thrown the football 91 times. That means the Giants are throwing the ball roughly 73 percent of the time. That’s not balance.
Look for the Giants to make a conscious effort to run the football this weekend at Carolina and take some of the heat off of Eli. If it looks like this lop-sided offense is a part of the Giant’s identity, that could mean good things for Justin Houston, Dontari Poe, Tamba Hali, and the rest of the Chiefs’ front seven come Week 4.
The Defense –
After two games, the Giant’s defense has allowed 77 points, more than double Kansas City’s points allowed (extra game included). A closer look at the numbers indicates that the Giants aren’t letting up the big plays that number would indicate. In fact, they seem to be getting slowly beat by the short passing game. Both Tony Romo and Peyton Manning used short and intermediate passes to drive the football on the Giants. The longest pass they have allowed was for 36 yards, and they’ve only let up four completions of 20 yards or more on the season. They are allowing almost 300 yards per game, and a whopping 71.1 completion percentage by opposing QBs. What the Giants are letting kill them is exactly what Alex Smith is great at, and if New York can’t begin to defend the short passing game, the Chiefs could be in good shape when they square off.
In addition to being susceptible to the short passing game, New York’s pass rush looks wholly ineffective. They’ve got great players on their defensive line, but something isn’t clicking. Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka have 1.5 sacks combined this year, and though I’m willing to give Pierre-Paul the benefit of the doubt as he is still recovering from offseason back surgery, what was once a terrorizing defensive line is currently looking quite pedestrian.
The Giants look very beatable right now, but if they start to tighten some things up, they still have the potential to be pretty good. What about you, Addicts, what will you be watching for tomorrow?