|Notes and Observations, Week 3: Offense Struggles, Patriots Top Raiders 16-9||If the Playoffs Started Today – MLB Week 24||Connelly’s Top Ten: Average Patriots Make Sunday Boring||Week 3 Preview: Raiders at Patriots, Sept. 21, 2014|
Unlike on the defensive side of the ball, there is a clear advantage on the offensive side to the Patriots. The Pats set multiple NFL records, most notably the record for the most points for a team in the NFL season. The Giants have an average offense with a few weapons which have come alive in the playoffs. Here’s a peak at the offensive match ups:
Offensive Line: The Patriots offensive line is one of the best in the NFL, if not the best. Brady was sacked less than twice a game and was hit less than any other QB in the NFL. In recent weeks, RT Nick Kaczur and RG Steve Neal returned from injury and it’s no surprise the run blocking has been upgraded. With Matt Light and Logan Mankins on the left side of the line, Dan Koppen at center and guys like TE Kyle Brady and OT Ryan O’Callaghan acting as blocking tight ends, the Pats offensive line is as formidable as the Giants have faced all year. As previously said, the key for the Giants defense is their front four getting pressure, and conversely the key for the Patriots offense is first and foremost to stop the Giants pressure and allow Brady to do his work.
The Giants O-line must focus on run-blocking to keep the ball and control the clock. The Patriots will rely on the linebackers to sustain blitz pressure and if the Giants line can’t give Eli Manning some time, there could be trouble.
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: Both teams have prime time players in Randy Moss and Plaxico Burress. The advantage for the Patriots comes in the depth. The Giants are without injured TE Jeremy Shockey, and after Burress they must rely on Amani Toomer and Steve Smith to pick up the load.
The Pats on the other hand have Donte Stallworth, Wes Welker, Ben Watson and Jabar Gaffney to pick apart the Giants secondary. The Pats have shown in the playoffs that they can win without Randy Moss having a big game, but I’m not sure the Giants have a chance to win unless Burress can have a monster performance. The Pats defense will be able to double Burress and be comfortable that the other members of the secondary can cover Toomer and Smith. Randy Moss is due for a big game but I think even if he only has a catch or two, the attention the Giants will have to pay to him will allow Welker and co. lots of room to dominate the rest of the field.
Quarterbacks and Running backs: The key for the Giants offense is the running game. Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs are both bruising backs who like to initiate contact. If Jacobs and Bradshaw can establish the running attack early, the Pats will have to commit more defenders to the run game and the secondary will open up for Manning.
Laurence Maroney has come on strong in recent weeks, thanks in large part to a more determined running style and much better run blocking. If the Giants can shut down the passing attack, Maroney will be ready to step in. Jacobs and Bradshaw have looked very strong in the playoffs but the edge goes to the Pats because of Kevin Faulk. He can beat you on the ground or through the air and his third down ability is unmatched. You can guarantee He’ll make at least one crucial play in the game.
On the QB side, there’s really no comparing Tom Brady and Eli Manning. Manning hasn’t thrown an interception in the playoffs and has managed games effectively through their run. He seems to be a different quarterback since the Week 17 game against the Pats.
There’s not much to say about Brady except he’s in the prime of a Hall of Fame career and he just knows how to get the job done in the biggest games. Manning is due for some mistakes and Brady just has too many weapons not to succeed.