Coming off of a bye the Giants are slated to face the 2-7-1 Cincinnati Bengals. The bye came at the right time as Big Blue is working with a bit of momentum for the first time this season. They are coming off two straight divisional wins against Washinton and Phillidelphia and they are feeling good about their playoff chances. at 3-7, the Giants are in a three-way tie for second place in the woefully NFC East and are only a half-game out of the division lead. Right now it looks like they are the best team in the division and are in a decent position to host a playoff game come January. However, January is a long way away and there are still six games left to be played. Let’s take a look at who the G-Men are up against this week.
With the season reaching its official three-quarters point this week time is winding down for Big Blue to make a playoff push. However, the stretch run starts with a fairly easy game against the 4th place Cincatti Bengals. The Bengals finished last season with a league-worst 2-14 and while they have already matched that win total the near future does not look bright for them.
The Giants on the other hand finished last season 5-11 and are tied for second in their division. New head coach Joe Judge has this team playing with passion week in and week out. He has also changed the locker room culture with his no-nonsense attitude. This team is in a spot that has Giants fans excited to watch the game every week. Unlike the Bengals, the Giants are beginning to get healthy just in time for the season’s final month. With that said let’s have a look at both sides’ strengths and weaknesses.
The Bengals have done well for themselves in building one of the league’s deepest receiving corps in all of football. While the group might not have many household names I can assure you that it is one of the league’s most productive groups. Even though AJ Green is a shell of his former self, former Pitt Panther Tyler Boyd and rookie wideout Tee Higgins have more than adequately replaced Green’s lost production. This is a fast and physical unit that can run by you or beat you with 50/50 balls. A player that is often overlooked is a former first-round pick, John Ross. While he has fallen out of favor with the Bengals coaching staff he can be a major problem if given consistent snaps. As a collective unit, these guys are dangerous as each of their playstyles complements one another.
Like the receiving corps the secondary doesn’t have big-name players but they play well as a cohesive unit. Free safety Jessie Bates is one of the best young safeties in the league that you’ve never heard of. He is just an all-around great player who covers well and can play in the box as well. Cincinnati also splashed some cash in recent years to sure up that secondary. They signed two former Minnesota Viking defensive backs Trae Waynes and Mckenzie Alexander. Those two were added to a group that had pro-bowler William Jackson and safety Sean Williams already in house. They also signed former Saint Vonn Bell to a 3-year 18 million dollar deal. This is a deep unit that should make it hard for The Giants to move the ball through the air.
The injury has hit the Bengals especially hard the last couple of weeks. The team just lost number one overall pick and LSU product, Joe Burrow, for the remainder of the season due to a torn ACL and MCL. Also just as it looked like he was decently close to making a return to action the team placed star running back Joe Mixon on IR. He will miss Sunday’s game and the next two following. Coming into Sunday it looks like the Bengals will be lead by former Denver Bronco Brandon Allen and Giovani Bernard. The Bengals’ offense is diminished, to say the least, and that should play to the Giants’ advantage however, it certainly won’t be a good thing for the Bengals.
This is the one unit on the defense that has some names you might recognize however, this is probably the worst level of the Cinncinati defense. They recently traded long-time franchise cornerstone pass rusher, Carlos Dunlap, to the Seattle Seahawks. However, they still have Carl Lawson, all-pro Geno Atkins, and a former pro-bowler in Mike Daniels. Even with all of the names playing in the trenches the Bengals still rank 29th in the league in terms of rushing yards per game at just over 135. The Giants could change their offensive identity for this game due to the matchup.
The Giants have been dealing with injuries ever since the beginning of training camp. Rookie Alabama product Xavier McKinney fractured his foot a couple of weeks after reporting to camp and has been out of practice ever since. Also, second-year player out of Old Dominion Oshane Ximines was placed on IR along with McKinney early in the season. However, both of them have been removed from the reserve list and have returned to practice with an outside shot to play this Sunday.
Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Leonard Williams have teamed up to make one of the best run-stopping units in the league. Along with the NFL’s 3rd leading tackler Blake Martinez, the Giants’ front seven ranks 6th in the league in terms of allowing rushing yards at just over 100. They have spent a significant amount of assets building up the front seven and it has paid off in spaids for the Giants this season.
Daniel Jones has not taken the strides that many Giants fans had expected coming into his second season. However, many fans fail to realize that he is in a new offensive scheme with a far worse offensive line and a wide receiver corps that is near the top of the league in drops. On the season they rank 24th in passing yards per game at just under 260. However, over the last three games, they are averaging around 272 a game which ranks 8th in the league over that span. This is an encouraging sign as the remaining teams on the Giants’ schedule mostly have below-average pass defenses so hopefully, this upward trend in production will continue through the end of the season.
Ability to Finish
Out of their seven losses, this season six of them came by a margin of ten or less. In a handful of those games, the Giants were leading for a considerable portion of the contest. A perfect example of this is the two games against the rival Eagles. In both games, they were in the lead late. While they were able to hang on and win one of them the games turned out to be nail bitters after they were up by a considerable margin. It is hard to pin which side of the ball is responsible for the shacky second halves because both the offense and the defense seem to lose the intensity they have in the first half.
With Burrow and Mixon out it is hard to see Cincinnati having a good day offensively. I think if Burrow was healthy, it would definitely be a closer game. I do feel that the Giants are a better team in most ways. If they can play their brand of football I can not see a way they lose. The Giants are getting healthy while the Bengals are getting hurt and that is what’s going to make the difference.
Look for Blake Martinez to take over the game on the defensive side. He is very capable of making it difficult for an offense to move by himself. With all of the factors, I listed above taken into account I am predicting a 33-17 Giants victory. With a win and an Eagles loss, they will be tied for first with the Washinton Football Team. However, the Giants have beaten Washinton twice and will win the division in event of a tie at the end of the season.