By Michael Stewart/@golferbad
Introduction: The New York Giants are fresh off their bye week and now have the opportunity for the first time since 2016 to be playing meaningful games in December. This starts with their first game against the Cincinnati Bengals who have struggled this season and will be without their 1st overall pick; quarterback Joe Burrow. Burrow sustained a season ending injury (ACL) against Washington and now his rookie campaign is over with a line of 2,688 passing yards and 13/5 touchdown to interception ratio. The Bengals are in last place with a 2-7-1 record and must now turn to backup quarterback Ryan Finley; which at this point they are playing for a top 5 pick in the upcoming 2021 draft. The Giants at 3-7 are playing for a chance to steal the NFC east crown and with a win against the Bengals will only solidify that opportunity even more. The bye week has benefitted the Giants despite entering it with a two game winning streak as they had many players with minor injuries and covid-19. It will be interesting to see if the Giants can start this game on a high note as they have over the last 5 or 6 games and not start out flat after the week off. Here are my top 5 ways the Giants can beat the Bengals and secure their 4th win of the season:
- Fast Start/Finishers: This has been the recipe for the Giants for the most part over the last 5 or 6 games and they need to come out of their bye week with high energy and be ready to play. Last week game against the Eagles was the team’s most important game of the year, however; if they come out flat and lose this game; they would have played their hearts out last week for nothing.
- Execution: The Giants continue to improve over the last 6 games the Red Zone with a 65.35% (48.15% overall). The Bengals are at 54.85% overall and have slipped a bit at 49.61% over their last 6 games. However; these stats were generated by quarterback Joe Borrow, so as far as the Bengals are concerned; you can throw these stats out the window. Daniel Jones is currently ranked in the top 10 in completions in the red zone with 27 and on 3rd down conversions the Giants are trending in the opposite direction with a 37.50% conversion over the last 6 games (40.80% overall) to the Bengals 43.24% over the last 6 games (38.10% overall); these stats were with Burrow.The team that converts more 3rd conversions to sustain their drives and also be more efficient in the red zone; will have a better chance to win this game.
- Turnovers: The Giants have been holding onto the rock better over the last two games; especially quarterback Daniel Jones who has no turnovers over that span. The Giants coaching staff and especially Giant fans are hoping that Jones has turned the corner and the turnover demons have been exorcists from his body for the final 6 games. Currently as a team, the Giants have a 0 turnover ratio to the Bengals -3. The Bengals have issues holding onto the ball with 7 fumbles thus far, so expect to see the Giants gang- tackling with someone looking to strip the ball.
- Sacks/Pressuring the Quarterback: The best way to confuse a quarterback who has seen limited action into making mistakes is by not allowing him time to make the right decisions. The Giants (25 sacks) must put as much pressure on Finley as possible and create confusion in their defensive packages. This needs to be in all three areas of the Giants defense (defensive line, linebackers and secondary), so expect to see DC Patrick Graham blitzes from every direction and area on the field. Both teams don’t feature an elite pass rusher as the Giants are averaging 2.5 sacks per game to the Bengals 1.2. This could be a major difference for the Giants if they can create confusion and put enough pressure on Finley to force him into making a few mistakes. For Jones, if the Giants offensive line allows him a little more time in the pocket against a Bengal defense that has only 13 sacks on the year, he will have a productive game.
- Hog Mollies to the Rescue: The Giants offensive line has been improving; especially over the last two games as the team has rushed for 166 and 156 yards over that span. The insertion of Guard Shane Lemieux and Tackle Matt Peart have been one of the main reasons for this along with the rest of this unit finally turning the corner. The Bengals defensive front four and linebackers are not as talented as Washington or Philadelphia, so I expect to see this trend to continue for the Giants against the Bengals who are surrendering 133.1 yards per game on the ground and are currently ranked 26th overall against the run. As for the Bengals, they will be without their starting running back Joe Mixon, so I expect the Bengals to have extreme trouble moving the ball on the ground.
Final Thoughts: it’s unfortunate that we will not see the matchup between Jones-vs-Burrows, but injuries are part of the game. The Giants have 6 games remaining on the schedule with winnable games against the Bengals and Cowboys who have a combined record of 5-14-1. The other 4 opponents (Seahawks, Ravens, Cardinals and Browns) are have an overall record of 26-14. The Eagles also have two winnable games against Washington and the Cowboys, who have a combined record of 6-14 as their other remaining games against the Packers, Seahawks, Cardinals and Saints have a combined record currently 28-12. The remaining 6 games certainly favor the Giants slightly but keep in mind the Eagles have a tie this season against the Bengals and if both teams finish with 5 or 6 wins; the Eagles would win the division by a half of game. Therefore; the Giants must win at the very least 4 of their remaining 6 games to give them a better chance of capturing the NFC east crown. Of course; the Giants must take one game at a time and not look pass the Bengals or it could cost them. Their biggest game this season was their win over the Eagles before the bye, however; if they lose to the Bengals that win against the Eagles would had meant nothing. After watching Head Coach Joe Judge thus far I believe he will have this team ready to play and I expect to see the Giants start out strong again and finish strong and have their biggest win in terms of point’s differential this season.
Final Score: Giants-24/Bengals-10