Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gameday Preview, Week 7: San Francisco 49ers

Giants look to rebound against San Fran...

Everybody falls down, and the Giants fell hard last Monday night, getting thumped by the desperate Browns 35-14. What matters now is how the G-men get back up, how they respond when they come back home to Giants stadium to host the 2-4 San Francisco 49ers.
Eli Manning and company will look to bounce back against San Fran on Sunday.

Sunday's game is a critical one for Big Blue for a number of reasons. First, it's important that the Giants get back in the win column this week. They do not want to lose multiple games in a row, and quite frankly, they need a win THIS week. This will be the Giants' last game against a sub .500 team for quite some time as their schedule gets considerably tougher from Week 8 onwards. At worst, the Giants need to come out of the first 6 games 5-1.

But more importantly than the record, Week 7's contest will be about building momentum for the tough stretch ahead and erasing all memory of a forgettable performance in Week 6. Dismal defense and turnovers beat the Giants as much as the Browns did, and Big Blue will show what they're made of when they take the field at Giants' Stadium this Sunday against the Niners...


San Francisco comes to the Meadowlands looking to stop a 3-game losing streak. To do that, they will rely heavily on RB Frank Gore. Gore leads the league in total yards from scrimmage and ranks fourth in the league in rushing with 524 yards. After Frank Gore however, the Niners boast a very modest offense, ranked 19th in the league in total yards per game and pass yards per game (307.2 and 193.5 respectively). Their overall rushing attack is also quite pedestrian, as they rank 17th in the league with 113.7 rushing yards per game.


San Francisco ranks a little higher in terms of points per game - 12th in the league - with 23.5 points per game. This speaks to the efficiency and big-play threat of OC Mike Martz's offense, in my opinion. The Niners lead the league in plays over 20 yards with 22.

The 49er offense has excelled in a few other areas this season too. They have a allowed a league-leading 23 sacks through 6 games, and speaking of quarterbacks, QB J.T. O'Sullivan has thrown a league-leading 8 interceptions. The Niners as a team have a -5 turnover differential, tied for second worst in the league.

On defense, the Niners boast a lot of talent but have not performed very well thus far. They rank 26th overall in total defense at 350.5 yards allowed per game, 28th in points allowed per game (27.8), 20th against the pass ( 226.3 ypg) and 22nd against the run (124.2 ypg). Led by two play-makers at line backer, they will look to reverse their fortunes against the Giants. LB Kevin Willis, tackling machine and last year's Defensive Rookie of the Year, has picked up 54 tackles so far this season, third best in the league. Veteran LB Takeo Spikes has picked off three passes over the last three games. Behind play-making ability like this, San Francisco's D will look to bring its A game against the defending Super Bowl champs this Sunday.

The Giants will have to do the same.


We're going to do things a little bit differently this week. Here's what the Giants need to do to win on Sunday:
  • Establish the Run. One bright spot from last week was the running game, which leads the league with 181 yards per game. More impressive than total yards per game though is yards per carry. The Giants average a stellar 6.1 yards per carry as a team. Jacobs (5.7 yards per carry), Ward (7.4 yards per carry), and Bradshaw (6.6 yards per carry) have been phenomenal behind one of the most cohesive and athletic O-lines in football. If this team runs the ball 30 or more times, there's no way they shouldn't win.
  • Stop the Run. Frank Gore is one of the most dynamic players in the entire NFL. It will be absolutely imperative for the Giant D to shut him down if they're going to win this game. The Giant LBs will have to contain the run a lot better than they did last Monday, and perhaps we will see 8 or 9 guys in the box from time to time. Maybe this is the week that S Kenny Phillips can show us a little something.
  • Get to the QB. If you can restrict the run then that puts more pressure on J.T. O'Sullivan. What will put even more pressure on the turnover-prone QB... is more pressure. After getting shut out with 0 sacks last week, the D-line is looking to rebound. According to DE Justin Tuck, the Browns only had 4 passing plays in which the QB held the ball for more than 3 seconds (the pass rusher's typical allotted time to get to the QB), including two roll-outs. This week against the 7 step-dropping Mike Martz offense, with a league-leading 23 sacks allowed, the G-men should have a little more time to get to the passer.
  • Make Tackles. The pass rush was one staple of the Giant defense that was nowhere-to-be-found against the Browns; good tackling was another. Big Blue gave up a number of big plays and first downs because of bad tackling. After four games of good tackling to start off the season, I suspect the D will be eager to get back to form this weekend.
  • Win the Turnover Battle. One thing that has been lacking all season has been generating turnovers on defense. The Giants only have two takeaways all year. Prior to Game 5 that didn't matter too much because the offense was protecting the football, but after Eli's 3 pick performance against Cleveland, it becomes a more pressing problem. The Giants will have to do a better job protecting the football on offense and hope to force a few turnovers against a mistake-prone 49er offense if they hope to lock up the win this week.
KEY MATCH-UPS (Individual Edition)

There are a few intriguing individual match-ups that will be just as critical to the Giants' success this Sunday.
  • RB Brandon Jacobs vs. LB Kevin Willis - Jacobs and Earth, Wind and Fire could be due for a big game this week coming off of that loss to Cleveland. The run game has shown itself to be the bread and butter of this offense and OC Kevin Gilbride hopefully got the message. Standing in Jacobs's, Ward's, and Bradshaw's ways will be tackling machine Kevin Willis. I'd love to see Jacobs level the reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year a la Laron Landry...
  • WR Steve Smith vs. LB Takeo Spikes - Takeo Spikes is another play-maker in the Niner LB corps. His three picks in the last three games reflect his presence in the middle of the field. One Giant who's made his presence felt in the middle of the field has been slot sensation Steve Smith. Smith had the best game of his career in the loss to the Browns, and he has as many catches this season as Plaxico Burress. This could be an intriguing battle.
  • The Giants' LBs vs. RB Frank Gore and TE Vernon Davis - It will be incumbent on Antonio Pierce, Danny Clark, and rookie Bryan Kehl (starting in place of Gerris Wilkinson) to contain the run and neutralize the Niners' talented tight end. With Pierce banged up and the outside backers struggling to establish themselves, this will be one of the most critical battles on the field on Sunday. Danny Clark's shown flashes of his play-making ability early in the season and Bryan Kehl is an impressive athlete with a lot of potential. Both men will have to step it up big time this week.
  • Giants' DC Steve Spagnuolo vs. 49er OC Mike Martz - Behind the action on the field will be two great minds on the sidelines. Spags will most certainly be looking to get his defense back on track and back on the attack against Martz's Niners. After Cleveland dialed up a good game plan last week to neutralize the Giants' strengths, we'll see what Martz has up his sleeve.

RB 34 Derrick Ward - Coming off of his first 100 yard game of the season, in which he average over ten yards per carry, D-Ward could be due for another big day when the G-men look to play to their strengths and run the rock against the 49er defense. He's shown his patience and quickness when given the ball and that could bode big things for "Wind" this Sunday.

CB 31 Aaron Ross
- Aaron Ross played his worst game of the season against Cleveland, a drastic departure from what has otherwise been superb play in early 2008. He will look to rebound this week, and will have to, in order to allow the Giants to maximize their pass rush and shut down the 49er offense.

... ...

I'm hyped up for this game and ready for the Giants to get back in the win column. It's an important game for Big Blue as they will look to establish momentum going into a very tough part of their schedule. They will also attempt to win their 4th game at home in as many tries, one more win at Giants Stadium than they had all of last season.

Prediction: Giants get back on track, 27-17

... ...'s preview of 49ers @ Giants's 49ers Scouting Report

No comments: