W2W4: New England Patriots vs New York Giants

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When the Giants Pass the Ball:

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Not since week one and Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers have the Patriots had to face a wide receiver who can completely take over a game like Odell Beckham Jr of the Giants. Apologies to DeSean Jackson, Jarvis Landry, Brandon Marshall, T.Y. Hilton, Allen Robinson, and Sammy Watkins, but Beckham and Brown are simply at another level of consistent excellence.

In week one, defensive coordinator Matt Patricia left second year cornerback Malcolm Butler in single coverage of Brown much of the game. Butler was beaten badly twice, but most of the game he kept Brown from doing too much damage and competed well when the ball was in the air. Whether he gets the opportunity to challenge Beckham is uncertain.

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The sound strategy would be to double Beckham with “instant offense” Logan Ryan underneath and veteran safety Devin McCourty bracketing him. This would let Butler lock down the less dangerous Rueben Randle and let rookie Justin Coleman take on slot receiver Dwayne Harris. We may even see the Patriots have McCourty consistently bracket with Butler for the first time this season to try and contain Beckham and leave Ryan in single coverage with Randle.

Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Giants tight end Larry Donnell is a solid tight end who contributes a few first down conversions a game, but can struggle to get open at times. He missed the win over Tampa Bay with a neck injury and if he cannot go former practice squad undrafted free agent Will Tye has to step in at tight end again.

Must-read: How the Patriots will beat the Giants

Former Patriots third down receiving back Shane Vereen has been strangely inconsistent in 2015. Vereen will have weeks where he is a major component in the offense like against Atlanta in week two (8 receptions for 76 yards), San Francisco in week five (8 receptions for 86 yards) and in week eight against New Orleans (8 receptions for 60 yards and a touchdown). Other weeks, he is invisible (no receptions in week three and four and just one catch in week six and seven).

Quarterback Eli Manning is going to force the ball into Odell Beckham Jr no matter what. Victor Cruz is still out with a calf injury and is likely out. When his secondary weapons do not contribute (Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen, Rueben Randle) that is when he will force the ball to Beckham and throw interceptions. Last week he tossed two picks a week after a six touchdown, no interception performance in New Orleans. The two weeks prior he had less than 200 yards passing.  

Like most seasons in New York, Eli Manning is trying to carry the offense. He has five games with a passer rating over 91 and four with a rating under 77. There is no middle ground with Manning–when he is on he is devastating (441 yards and 3 touchdowns vs San Francisco and 350 yards and 6 touchdowns vs New Orleans) and when he is not he is bad (189 yards and 2 interceptions vs Philadelphia and 170 and 193 yards and no touchdowns in two games vs Dallas).

It is no surprise that the good secondaries (Dallas, Buffalo, and Philadelphia) have contained the Giants passing game and they have lit up weak secondaries (Atlanta, Washington, San Francisco, and New Orleans). This week could be real test for the Patriots secondary to see if they should be considered a strong unit or a flawed one.


Next: When the Patriots Run the Ball