By: Russ Goldman
Each week I am hoping to bring a view of the upcoming game from someone who follows the Patriots opposition, and this week we have Neil Keefe who writes for WFAN.com.
Neil was generous enough to take some time to answer my questions about Sunday’s game, and it’s always interesting to get some insight from someone who really follows the opposing team.
Here are my “Five Questions About The Upcoming Giants game with Neil Keefe of WFAN.com.”
”Last year Eli threw 25 interceptions but they weren’t all his fault. There needs to be a stat for tipped interceptions or dropped catches that result in interceptions.” – Neil Keefe (PHOTO:Icon/SMI)
Last year Eli threw 25 interceptions but they weren’t all his fault. There needs to be a stat for tipped interceptions or dropped catches that result in interceptions. If that stat existed or something like it, the Giants would have led the league in it in 2010, and non-Giants fans would see that not all 25 of those picks weren’t entirely Eli’s fault. At the end of the day there isn’t a stat like that and Eli gets charged with 25 interceptions and it looks like Brett Favre played for the Giants last season and not the Vikings.
Eli hasn’t been much different this year other than that his receivers are tipping balls in the air like they are on fire or dropping them like they are coated with Crisco. Eli has endured better luck and it’s why his quarterback rating is the third best in the league (102.1) behind only Aaron Rodgers and your Tom Brady, and why he’s statistically the best fourth quarter quarterback in the league.
Last year on WFAN.com, I used this quote from the movie Rudy to talk about Eli:
“My father loves Notre Dame football more than anything else in the world. He doesn’t believe I’m on the team … because he can’t see me during the games.”
At the time Eli had thrown 13 interceptions in nine games (and still had 12 more to go in the last seven games). But the point of my comparison was that at the end of the day, most of the country only saw the box score that show his actual touchdown and interception numbers and didn’t that some of the losses and some of the turnovers weren’t his fault. Eli is much better than his numbers sometime suggest. This season he happens to be having a great statistical year and people are finally starting to give him credit for being an elite quarterback, which is something most Giants fans have known for a while.
If the Giants don’t follow the Steelers’ game plan then there is something very wrong. The Steelers proved that airing the ball out 50 times in a game is the way to beat the Patriots and they have exposed the Patriots Achilles heel. My question is why didn’t the Jets or Cowboys do this? Sure, Mark Sanchez and Tony Romo aren’t as good as Ben Roethlisberger, but the Patriots pass defense is the worst in the league. How crazy is it to say the Patriots have the worst anything in the league? And how did it take until Week 8 for someone to expose this?
Bill Belichick has been taking a lot of heat this week for his recent drafts and many in Boston are questioning him and wondering if he has lost it. It’s pretty remarkable (and fun) to watch and read about from a non-Patriots fan’s perspective. They lost one game on the road to a team that went to the Super Bowl last year and might go to the Super Bowl again this year. You would think they are coming off a five-game losing streak and that they were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs by the way Bostonians are reacting to the one loss.
The problem is that the Patriots never ever, ever, ever, ever, ever lose two games in a row. And they almost never lose at home (unless it’s in the playoffs the last two years … sorry that was mean). I expect Belichick and his staff to put together a near perfect game plan for the Patriots this week and I can only hope that the Giants, going on the road for the first time since Oct. 2 at Arizona, are able to do the same.
The Giants have the best pass rush in the league and it’s all about the defensive line. However, the pass rush doesn’t seem to get going until late in the game, which is something they can’t afford to do against the Patriots. If they think they are only going to play 15 minutes or 30 minutes of football on Sunday, then everyone should call their bookie and hammer the Patriots at -8.5 right now. Coming back from a halftime deficit and beating Matt Moore or Ryan Fitzpatrick or Kevin Kolb is one thing. Coming back and beating Tom Brady at Gillette following a Patriots loss is another thing, and pretty much an impossible thing.
The Giants don’t seem to play with any urgency until late in the game, and twice it’s been too late for them (against the Redskins and against the Seahawks). If you turned on the Giants-Dolphins game on Sunday in the final minutes of the game and watched the Giants try to end Matt Moore’s career with sack after sack, you probably wondered how the Dolphins were only trailing by three points. And they were only trailing by three points because the Giants defense didn’t play like that whole game. They didn’t play like that until they had the lead.
It’s very possible that the Giants could be 7-0 and on their way to the playoffs for the first time since 2008 if they had played 60 minutes of football every game since Week 1 even with an insane rash of injuries. 7-0 might seem a little ridiculous, but their only two losses have come against the Redskins and Seahawks. (Give me a second while I wipe away the tears.) Instead they are 5-2 and have the toughest remaning schedule in the NFL with games against the Patriots, 49ers, Eagles, Saints, Packers, Cowboys, Redskins, Jets and Cowboys again. The Giants only remaining “easy” opponent is the Redskins, who the Giants have already lost to this season, and there’s a very good chance we could see a third consecutive meltdown in the final month from the G-Men.
4. Do you think the secondary of the Giants is a weakness?
That’s like asking me if I think the Giants will endure a late-season collapse again. The Giants secondary is a disaster. It shouldn’t be, but it is. All week people are going to talk about the Giants needing to take throw the ball against the Patriots, but the same goes for the Patriots against the Giants. The Giants have let Rex Grossman and Charlie Whitehurst beat them. They have almost let Matt Moore and Kevin Kolb beat them. The secondary is a glaring weakness on this team. It’s not as bad as the linebacker situation (that has been a problem for four years), but it’s still a problem.
With the Giants’ secondary being hot and cold and the Patriots’ secondary always cold, there’s a chance we could see a shootout between these two teams like we saw in Week 17 in 2007. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is one or two punts combined in the entire game for both teams. Then again, whenever I think something will be an offensive affair or a defensive affair, usually the opposite happens. So, now you can probably expect at 17-13 win. Or maybe we will see a 17-14 game between these two teams … like the last time they met.
5. What is your key match-up in this game?
The key matchup in this game is Ahmad Bradshaw vs. the Patriots defense. Bradshaw injured his foot on Sunday and hasn’t practiced this week. There is a chance he doesn’t play on Sunday, but I think he will. We know that both passing offenses are going to have a field day against each other since both secondaries just aren’t that good, but the Giants are going to need Bradshaw to step up and have a big game to allow the Giants to pass and to keep Brandon Jacobs off the field.
The last time these two teams met in Super Bowl XLII, Brandon Jacobs’ career was taking off and he was one of the elite running backs in the game. Now he is a backup running back and an outcast and a problem in the locker room. A lot of people thought the Giants would cut ties with him before this season and they didn’t and now he just whines and complains about his playing time and his touches, and he does little to prove he deserves anymore of either when he does get into the game. The Giants need Ahmad Bradshaw to be as good as he can be on Sunday because if they have to rely on the 2011 version of Brandon Jacobs, they aren’t going to win.
What is your prediction for the game?
I’m scared about this game because I have a lot on the line. As someone who went to college in Boston and was a freshman when the Patriots beat the Eagles in the Super Bowl and a senior when the Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, I have seen the good and the bad of the Patriots dynasty from inside the heart of New England, and I have many friends who are Patriots fans. I want nothing more than to beat them again. And how awesome will it be to have the Patriots lose two straight games and fall to 5-3 with a trip to the Meadowlands in Week 10? Pretty awesome.
Giants 31, Patriots 27.
A special thanks to Neil for taking his time to give his thoughts on this weekend’s match-up. You can also follow him on twitter at NeilKeefe .