New York Giants: What to watch for

W2W4: Giants at Cowboys

October, 26, 2012
The Giants are headed to Dallas -- where they practically own Cowboys Stadium, as much as Jerry Jones does.

They are 3-0 at Jones’ $1.2 billion stadium. If the Giants can make it four straight, they’ll not only disappoint Jones -- who told Dallas fans to come watch the Cowboys "beat the New York Giants' ass" earlier this summer -- but they will put themselves in solid position heading into the second half of the regular season.

Here are five things to watch for on Sunday in Dallas:

Stay the Mann: Eli Manning saves some of his best games for the Cowboys, especially in Dallas. He has won four of his last five games in Dallas, and has six 300-yard games in his career against the Cowboys -– more than he has against any other team.

In the new Cowboys Stadium, Manning has passed for at least 306 yards and two touchdowns in all three of his games. Dallas did hold Manning to 213 yards and one touchdown in the season opener. If the Cowboys’ improved secondary is the real deal, it will find a way to slow down Manning in Dallas.

Get Romo: The Giants sacked Tony Romo twice in the season opener, but defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora were shut out, as Romo was able to elude the rush for the most part.

The Giants can’t afford to let Romo make plays with his legs and right arm. Romo burned the Giants with three touchdowns back in September.

No more big plays: Kevin Ogletree introduced himself to the Giants and the country with eight catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener.

The Giants’ secondary struggled in that game, and has allowed big plays throughout the season. Santana Moss scored twice against the Giants last Sunday.

Prince Amukamara has been solid, and he will play against the Cowboys for the first time this season after missing the opener due to injury. Corey Webster is getting healthier as well.

The Giants have to find a way to slow down Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Jason Witten and limit the big plays. The secondary has allowed seven touchdowns of 26 yards or longer this season.

The Black Unicorn returns: Martellus Bennett did his best to downplay his first game in Dallas against his former team. But he can definitely come up big for the Giants.

Bennett had four catches for 40 yards and a touchdown against Dallas in the first meeting of the year, and had five catches for 79 yards last Sunday against Washington. Bennett will be going up against a Cowboys defense that has lost linebacker Sean Lee for the season. He can potentially help open up things for Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks against the Cowboys' corners.

Get even: A win in Dallas would be big for the Giants. They can even the series with the Cowboys, which would help if there is a need for tiebreakers at the end of the season. They would extend their winning streak to four games and be 6-2 heading into the second half of the season.

And the Giants (5-2) can create an early cushion between themselves and the Cowboys (3-3), Eagles (3-3) and Redskins (3-4) in the overall standings.

The Giants say they owe Dallas one. Winning this game would give them a boost they can use going into a challenging second half of the season that is filled with tough games against Pittsburgh, at Cincinnati, Green Bay, at Washington, New Orleans, at Atlanta, at Baltimore and Philadelphia.

At 6-2, the Giants would have some room for error in the case that they go into one of their almost-annual midseason swoons.

W2W4: Giants vs. Redskins

October, 19, 2012
It's time for the New York Giants to finally meet Robert Griffin III and see the hype in person.

More importantly, though, the Giants need to get on the board in the division standings. They are 0-2 in the NFC East and really need a division victory. Here's what to watch for on Sunday:

Stop the future: RG3 may very well be the future of football given his incredible speed and talent. But the Giants can’t let him be the present on Sunday and allow him to run all over them the way he did on Minnesota last Sunday.

Griffin had a 76-yard touchdown run that Osi Umenyiora described as “ridiculous.” Of course, JPP did challenge RG3 to run to his side of the defense.

The Giants have faced mobile quarterbacks like Cam Newton, Michael Vick, Tony Romo and even Colin Kaepernick. But Perry Fewell and Tom Coughlin say Griffin is different. The Giants have to contain the edges better than they did against Philadelphia earlier this year.

The Giants, who also have to slow down running back Alfred Morris, may have several battles with Griffin for years to come but they need to give the rookie a rude welcome on Sunday in his first NFC East divisional game.

Salsa time: The Redskins' secondary has been torched several times this season. The Redskins have allowed eight wide receivers or tight ends to go for 100 yards or more receiving. Also, Danny Amendola, Tony Gonzalez, Julio Jones and Percy Harvin have all had 10 or more catches in a game against Washington.

Eli Manning should be able to go to work in this game and find Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Domenik Hixon open against Washington’s defense.

Hold the line: The Giants' offensive line has been terrific in pass protection and running the ball.

Ahmad Bradshaw is looking for his third straight 100-yard effort and has scored in his past two games. The Giants’ line is clicking and the protection has been stellar as well. Manning has only been sacked once in the past five games. If the Giants’ line continues to play like this, RG3 may find himself on the sideline a lot more than he would like to be.

Special teams: David Wilson has been electric as a kickoff returner and the Giants are hoping for more of the same. Wilson has often come close to breaking one for a touchdown. He could be key for the Giants on Sunday.

The special teams coverage units will also have to be on point against the dangerous Brandon Banks.

Be elite: The Giants sent a message last Sunday in San Francisco to the league that they are still the defending world champs. But they need to keep the momentum and take care of business at home and in the division against Washington.

The Giants are 0-2 in the NFC East and need to get on the board in the division. A loss will be damaging with only three more divisional games after this. The Giants need to do what elite teams do and that is win at home and win games in the division and put together a nice winning streak.

Tell us what you feel confident about or what worries you for Sunday below.

W2W4: Giants at Niners

October, 12, 2012

The NFC championship rematch is upon us.

Are you ready for another slug-it-out Candlestick cage match?

Here are five things to watch for on Sunday:

Reunited: And it feels ... not so good. The Giants will be reunited with Mario Manningham and perhaps Brandon Jacobs on Sunday. Both key contributors to the Giants' Super Bowl victory signed with the Niners during free agency.

Manningham is ecstatic to be a Niner and has 19 catches for 186 yards and one touchdown so far. Jacobs has yet to play this season after suffering a knee injury in the preseason. He told USA Today that he felt phenomenal and would be disappointed if he doesn’t play Sunday. He certainly sounded frustrated. But on Thursday, Jacobs had a different tone.

“Right now could I go out and play? Yes,” Jacobs told reporters Thursday, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “But would it be smart? No. I’m taking the opportunity I have to get healthy.”

Jacobs went through full practices this week. Even if Jacobs doesn’t play, Manningham said he will be fired up to play against his former team.

Contain Vernon: Vernon Davis had a total of six catches against the Giants last season in two games. But three of those receptions were for touchdowns.

He scored twice in the NFC Championship Game, including a 73-yard touchdown. The Giants have had good success against tight ends with Carolina’s Greg Olsen really the only one having success against them this season.

But Davis is an elite tight end with elite speed. Perry Fewell says he likes the speedy Jacquian Williams’ ability to match up with Davis.

Protect Eli: Eli Manning was sacked six times and officially hit 12 times in that NFC title game. It was the toughest performance of his career.

The Giants must make sure Manning isn’t touched nearly as many times this time around. Manning and his passing weapons will need time to work against San Francisco’s elite defense. The offensive line has only allowed Manning to be sacked four times this season and just once since the season opener against Dallas. It must continue that type of protection on Sunday.

Wake the rush: Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora have a combined one sack in their past two games.

This would be a good time to get the pass rush humming again. Alex Smith doesn’t make many mistakes. He only has one interception this season and six total over the past two seasons. The Giants will need to get pressure on Smith and find a way to combat all the schemes offenses are using to slow down the pass rushers such as quick passes, double teams and tight ends and running backs chipping.

San Francisco treat: The last time the Giants were in the Bay, they left NFC champs and were heading to the Super Bowl.

They’ll need to match the Niners in physicality, execute, minimize the mistakes and likely play their best game of the season. The Giants tend to play well in these types of games. They like playing in hostile environments and mostly rise to the challenge of playing the better teams in the league.

The Super Bowl isn’t on the line this time but a win here could certainly push the Giants onto a winning streak longer than two wins. They will need that considering this game starts an 11-game stretch that features either division foes or teams that made the playoffs last year. Either way, they’ll get a sense of where they stand in the NFC after this game.

Tell us what you think are the Giants' keys to winning this Sunday below.

W2W4: Giants at Panthers in Week 3

September, 20, 2012

CHARLOTTE, N.C. –- On just three days' rest, the short-handed New York Giants will try to slow down Cam Newton in his house tonight.

Here’s what to watch for tonight:

Depleted Giants: The Giants' offense will go into hostile territory without key players. Hakeem Nicks remained home and was a surprising scratch after initially being ruled questionable. Nicks couldn’t do much in the Wednesday morning jog thru and the team decided it was better to give him two weeks of rest before their next game against Philadelphia rather than have him play in two games in five days.

Eli Manning will also be without starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw, starting right tackle David Diehl and third wide receiver Domenik Hixon.

Of course, something tells us that the Giants might actually surprise some tonight. They sometimes tend to defy logic. Do the odds seem stacked against them trying to beat Newton shorthanded on the road? Absolutely. But the Giants have a way of playing well on the road and they take joy in trying to prove people wrong. Remember New England last year? The Giants beat Tom Brady in his house without Nicks and Bradshaw.

Granted they had Brandon Jacobs and Mario Manningham to replace those two. Still, the Giants know how to win on the road even short-handed.

Ramses time: Manning will be without two of his top three receivers. He still has playmaker Victor Cruz. But if Cruz sees a lot of defensive attention tonight -– and he should –- Ramses Barden will have to help shoulder the load.

Barden will move up to the No. 2 receiver spot and this is his big opportunity to shine and show what he can do. We’ve seen him in flashes in the preseason and how he can look good on slants and using his body to make catches. But this is his biggest opportunity to date.

Second-round pick Rueben Randle also should get his first crack at significant playing time. Randle and Jerrel Jernigan could see time as the third receiver. Outside of Cruz, nobody can be the explosive playmaker that Nicks is. But Manning is going to have to find somebody else to step up and make big catches.

Tight end Martellus Bennett could be more of a factor in the passing game. And Manning may look to throw to Andre Brown, David Wilson and Henry Hynoski out of the backfield.

Hold the line: Without Diehl, Will Beatty will start at left tackle and Sean Locklear will hold things down on the right side at tackle.

The two helped keep Manning clean and prevented any sacks during the Tampa game. The line will need to do the same tonight with the margin for error smaller with no Nicks, Bradshaw and Diehl. The linemen also have to stay healthy since the line is thin at the moment.

Andre the Giant? Brown is expected to get his first career start in place of the injured Bradshaw. He gave the team a spark on Sunday and will have to do the same again against Carolina to help Manning and his depleted aerial attack out.

Wilson could see more touches according to head coach Tom Coughlin. With Nicks out, the Giants sure can use Wilson’s ability to catch out of the backfield. But is he ready for a bigger role?

Also, Brown will have to protect Manning once again with Bradshaw, the team’s most trusted pass protector in the backfield, out.

A Fewell good men: The Giants’ defense has to pick up more of the slack for the offense tonight. The pass rush has to pressure and contain Newton. The front line and linebackers will have to slow down Carolina’s rushing attack.

And the secondary has to find a way to keep Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell and Greg Olsen from hitting for big plays.

Corey Webster, Jayron Hosley and Prince Amukamara, who is probable to make his season debut, have to improve the coverage tonight.

W2W4: Giants vs. Buccaneers

September, 14, 2012

It feels like a month since the Giants dropped their season opener to Dallas in disappointing fashion. The champs have had plenty of time to stew. Time to redeem themselves against Tampa Bay at MetLife Stadium at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Here's your What To Watch For on Sunday:

BuccaneersGiantsHip Hop Hooray: Justin Tuck had said prior to the season opener that the Giants' pass rush always enjoyed playing Dallas and it often was "almost in a way kind of a 'Hip Hop Hooray' party for us."

That was before Tony Romo crashed the party. On Sunday, the Giants' pass rush has to get its Naughty (by) Nature going again against Tampa Bay or the championship defense will be in serious trouble. The Giants must get to Josh Freeman. Tuck said it was "alarming" that neither he, Jason Pierre-Paul nor Osi Umenyiora got a sack against Dallas. The Giants need a strong performance from their pass-rushing trio.

Hot corner: Whether it is Prince Amukamara or Michael Coe, the Giants need better play at corner opposite Corey Webster. Webster has to play better than he did in the season opener, for that matter.

Amukamara hopes to return from a high ankle sprain and make his season debut Sunday. Coe has been battling a hamstring injury but says he is good to go. No matter who it is, the corners have to give the defensive line time to rush Freeman.

G.W.A.: Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks have T-shirts that show the Giants receivers under the letters "G.W.A." -– Giants With Attitude.

Last week against Dallas, though, the Giants receivers were almost M.I.A. Cruz and Nicks were shut out of the end zone and Cruz dropped three passes. It’s been a tough week for Cruz, who lost his grandmother on Monday. He credits Lucy Molina with helping to raise him and teaching him how to salsa. He hopes to score on Sunday and have an emotional salsa touchdown celebration.

Nicks is still playing through some pain lingering from offseason foot surgery, but he hopes to move closer to his old form this weekend. Both Nicks and Cruz have to be the playmakers that they are for Eli Manning.

Push it: Tom Coughlin wants to see his offensive line get better push up front to jump start the running game.

The Giants rushed for 82 yards against Dallas, but 33 of those yards came on one Ahmad Bradshaw run. Rushing against Tampa Bay could be difficult since Greg Schiano's defense held Carolina to 10 yards of net rushing last Sunday.

Rookie David Wilson hopes to get a shot at redemption after fumbling last week.

Must win? After dropping the season opener, the Giants cannot afford to start 0-2. With the toughest schedule in the NFL, one that is downright brutal in the second half, the Giants have to take care of business and win as many home games as possible.

Tampa Bay may be 1-0 but it is still rebuilding. The Giants pretty much have to win this one, with a quick turnaround before Thursday night's game against Carolina. Michael Vick and the Eagles await after that.