The Denver Broncos and New York Giants don’t have occasion to meet very often. They last played in 2009, when Denver upset visiting New York 26-6 on Thanksgiving night.
Now, the Broncos and quarterback Peyton Manning, who threw for 462 yards and seven TDs in the season-opening win against Baltimore, are back to pay the 0-1 Giants a visit. In their season opener, the Giants couldn’t turn 450 passing yards and four touchdowns from Eli Manning into victory in a 36-31 defeat at Dallas.
Already one game back in the NFC East, the pressure is on Big Blue to avoid a 0-2 start. A win would be nice for the Giants to have in hand before they begin a two-game road trip next week. What’s more, a Giants victory would be Eli Manning’s first in three tries against brother Peyton.
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Injury report: The key injuries for both clubs are at cornerback. Broncos corner Champ Bailey (foot) missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday. He sat out the season-opening win vs. Baltimore with the injury. If Bailey is out, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Chris Harris and Tony Carter will be the Broncos’ top three cornerbacks.
Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara sustained a concussion in Week One. Aaron Ross would fill in for him if he can’t start. Coach Tom Coughlin indicated that a good day of practice on Friday and no further complications could clear the way for Amukamara to have a chance to play.
Giants starting middle linebacker Dan Connor (neck) was placed on injured reserve on Thursday, with the club adding ex-Seahawks linebacker Allen Bradford to take his roster spot. Mark Herzlich will move into the middle for Connor. Giants center David Baas (knee) practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday and Thursday. Kevin Boothe started for Baas in Week One but would play left guard if Baas returns.
Reasons why the Giants can win Sunday: Let’s begin with the Giants’ defense. If Big Blue executes like it did in Week One at Dallas, Denver will have to work for its yards and points. The Giants allowed a respectable 331 yards to the Cowboys, who held the ball for more than 37 minutes and ran 74 plays.
To win, the Giants need a productive game from their pass rush, and they need to limit errors in coverage. Tackling will be key, too. When the Giants have a chance to stop receivers short of the sticks, they must do it. Give Peyton Manning an extra set of downs and you are asking for trouble.
The same, however, can be said for Eli Manning. The Giants’ passing game is their greatest asset against Denver. While the Broncos held up fairly well in coverage in the regular-season opener against the Ravens, the Baltimore passing game is a work-in-progress, a group weakened by injuries. The Giants, with Manning and a deep pass catching corps, are a significantly tougher matchup.
Reasons why the Giants could run into trouble against Denver: Peyton Manning made a good Baltimore defense look powerless in Week One. Denver’s offense is clearly preferable to New York’s defense. Quite frankly, that may be too much for the Giants to overcome.
Another potential concern is the Giants’ ability to handle the Broncos’ pass rush, which gave Baltimore some issues. If Eli Manning is under consistent pressure from the Broncos, the Giants are going to be long shots to win.
Finally, we come to the Giants’ running game. Ball security is an obvious priority after David Wilson’s two fumbles a week ago. The backs also have to be capable blockers and dependable receivers. The Giants don’t need big plays in this facet as much as they need the correct plays made over and over again.
Prediction: The Broncos have yet to play on the road, and they are facing a Giants club that could very well be 1-0 if not for all the mistakes it made in Dallas. About those mistakes: the belief here is they will result in a sharper effort from the Giants in Game Two. New York can pull the upset.
Predicted score: Giants 34, Broncos 31