No one expects the New York Giants to give the New England Patriots much of a challenge tonight on Thursday Night Football. Even if the Giants were healthy, the Patriots would outclass them in just about every aspect of the game. But the Giants have upset the Patriots in the past. What’s to say they can’t do it again?
With several key players ruled out for the Giants, including Saquon Barley, Sterling Shepard, Wayne Gallman, and Evan Engram, it will take a supernatural event for the Giants to win. It might take a small miracle for the Giants just to cover the gaping 17-point spread. But miracles happen in sports all the time.
Here are five questions the Giants must answer if they hope to upset Tom Brady and the unbeaten Patriots.
1. Who is Daniel Jones even going to throw to?
With Shepard and Engram out, Daniel Jones is going to have to lean hard on Golden Tate, Cody Latimer, and Darius Slayton. So, the rookie quarterback will have a few good (but far from great) receivers to work with.
But they will have the difficult task of facing the defense ranked first against the pass, first in sacks, first in passing touchdowns allowed, and—well, it is safe to say the Patriots defense is the best in the league so far.
An offense needs to be well-rounded to beat a defense like that.
New England Patriots defensive league ranks
• Points allowed: 1st
• Yards allowed: 1st
• Takeaways: 1st
• Sacks: 1st
• First Downs allowed: 1st
• Passing TD’s allowed: 1st
• Passing Yards allowed: 1st
• Third-Down conversion: 1st#GoPats
— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) October 7, 2019
2. But do they have a run game that can help out?
With Saquon Barkley still out, the answer is easy—no. Even if Wayne Gallman were healthy, the answer would be no. A rookie out of Rutgers, Jonathan Hillman, will get the bulk of the carries against a defense that has allowed only two rushing touchdowns the entire season (and just 78 rushing yards per game).
But the odds have been stacked against the Giants versus the Patriots before. The Giants found a way to overcome them then. However, with all the issues they have on offense, they may need their defense to pull through for them this time.
3. Can the Giants defense stop Tom Brady?
Just slowing down Brady may not be enough; they may need to stop him. That is, of course, something few have ever been able to do—and it requires a dominant pass rush. The Giants are tied for 12th in the league in sacks with 13 so far this season, so their pass rush is far from dominant.
It’s been hard to get to Brady this year, anyway. He’s only been sacked eight times and hit 23 times in five games.
4. Can New York keep the Patriots running backs from going wild?
New England is on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to rushing yards (99.0 yards/game), but seven of the Patriots’ 16 touchdowns this year have come on the ground.
New York has struggled against the run (130.0 yards per game allowed) this season, so the Patriots may look to grind out the clock.
5. How in the world can the Giants win this game?
What we have here is one team (the Giants) that is not very good at anything, even when it has a healthy roster (which it doesn’t). In the other team (the Patriots), there is the most dominant defense in the league partnered up with an incredibly efficient offense. So can the Giants win this game?
It would take an upset of epic proportions for the Giants to pull this one out, and there is no reason to think that it could happen.
Kick-off is at 8:20 pm ET and will be broadcast by NFL Network, Fox, and Amazon Prime.