- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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The New York Giants have played only two games in the past 30 days, and they have won both of them. After an 0-6 start to the season, they won two in a row going into their bye, and they emerge from their midseason break looking for their third straight victory. Standing in their way are the 3-5 Oakland Raiders, their opponents in a 1 p.m. ET game at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. Here are a couple of things to keep your eye on as you watch the game and see whether or not the Giants can keep their momentum going.
Containing the quarterback: Of the 818 rushing yards the Giants have allowed this year, 21.9 percent of them have come from quarterbacks. Opposing running backs average 3.3 yards per carry against the Giants this year, while opposing quarterbacks average 5.4. Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor leads all NFL quarterbacks (and all but 14 NFL running backs) with 485 rushing yards so far this year and is averaging 7.7 yards per carry. Unquestionably, the Giants' most important task on defense in this game will be to keep Pryor in the pocket and limit the damage he can do with his legs. Especially with starting running back Darren McFadden unlikely to play due to injury, Pryor's running ability is the Raiders' best chance to gain an advantage while they have the ball.
This week for Nicks? Twitter follower @k1209b asks, "Will Hakeem Nicks ever catch a touchdown pass again?" And while I have to assume the answer is yes, Nicks goes into Week 10 still looking for his first touchdown catch of the year. We've discussed Nicks many times here, and you know I think he's (a) having trouble getting separation from opposing receivers due to wear and tear from his leg injuries and (b) at least subconsciously worried about getting himself hurt in his contract year. Nicks continues to play hard, but not at the level at which the Giants need him. This week, against a banged-up Raiders secondary that gave up seven touchdown passes to the Eagles' Nick Foles in Week 9 and could be without starting cornerback D.J. Hayden, Nicks matches up very well and is set up for a big day. But that's not the first time we've said that.
Carrying the load: Running back Andre Brown returns from short-term injured reserve and is likely to see a fair amount of work on passing downs and at the goal line in his first game back. Interestingly, with Brandon Jacobs the most likely Giants back to be inactive after missing some more practice time this week due to his hamstring injury, Brown and Peyton Hillis have similar skill sets as pass blockers and receivers out of the backfield. But Brown, if fully recovered from that broken leg, is the more dynamic option. If he shows he can handle it, I would bet on him getting the bulk of the work, though the Raiders do have the sixth-best run defense in the league, allowing just 94.6 rush yards per game. If nothing else, another viable running-back option should help Eli Manning operate the play-action passing game better.