Fresh off the bye week and enjoying a two-game winning streak, there is some hope—slim as it may be—that the Giants can ride this momentum and somehow get back into the NFC East race.
While it still may be a stretch, the Giants could get on a roll in the next few weeks with the not-so imposing Raiders (3-5) coming to town this week and then after that, the Packers—who should be without their star-quarterback Aaron Rodgers—would be next.
But first things first, let’s focus on the Raiders. So, here are five things to watch for in the Giants clash with Oakland at MetLife Stadium .
Can Eli Manning continue to play mistake-free football?
After two straight weeks of not throwing an interception, Manning will look to make it three weeks in a row of not turning over the ball. With the Raiders’ secondary in disarray, there is a good chance Manning can continue this streak. However, it would be nice for Manning to take some chances and actually build up his confidence by becoming the quarterback he once was. After all, Manning has only passed for 446 yards and two touchdowns in his last two games. So, it would be nice if Manning can play mistake-free football and take some chances in the process. Considering how banged up the Raiders are, there is a good chance Manning can go off in this game.
With Andre Brown expected back, can he help spark the run game?
After missing the first eight games of the year with a broken leg, Brown has been activated and is set to return this week. How he will be used should be interesting to see. With Brandon Jacobs doubtful for the game, Brown will be needed. It is likely that Peyton Hillis will start and get most of the reps with Brown working his way back into the mix. While he may need some time to shake off the rust, Brown should eventually be the bell-cow back for the Giants moving forward.
Can the Giants contain Terrelle Pryor in the pocket?
The Giants have had their fair share of troubles containing mobile quarterbacks over the years and Pryor certainly presents a challenge. However, Pryor is not the most accurate passer and he is very limited when he is contained in the pocket. He has seven interceptions to just one touchdown in his last three games. If the Giants can contain Pryor in the pocket and stifle him from getting free, they can easily harass him and force him into mistakes. But if he gets loose, he can do some damage, as Pryor far and away leads all NFL QB’s in rushing yards with 485 yards.
Will Giants receivers be able to burn Oakland’s corners like Philadelphia did last week?
Last week against the Raiders, Nick Foles of the Eagles torched the Raiders’ secondary to the tune of 406 passing yards and an NFL-record seven touchdowns. So there is hope that Manning can carve up the Raiders’ secondary in similar fashion with strikes to Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle. D.J. Hayden and Brandian Ross were toasted by Riley Cooper and DeSean Jackson and with the Giants having an near-elite receiving corps, the Giants should attack the Raiders in much the same way.
Do the Giants truly have their swagger back?
This two-game winning streak and the fact that the NFC East is a shell of its former dominant self has the Giants finally believing in each other. While the wins over Minnesota and Philadelphia have not been things of beauty, the defense has played infinitely better and if they can continue to do their part, the offense should do enough to be a threat heading down the stretch. So, while they may still have a hard time reaching the playoffs, the team surely looks like they are re-energized and ready to make a run of it in the second half.