Last week we witnessed history. Broncos Quarterback Peyton Manning shredded the reigning Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens defense for seven, yes seven touchdowns. This week Peyton Manning and the Broncos travel to the east coast to take on his little brother Eli Manning and the the New York Giants. Lets take a look at five things to keep an eye on while you watch the game.
1. The Manning Brothers:
In week one of the season the Manning brothers combined for 912 yards passing, and 11 touchdowns. Peyton came away with a win after his dominating 7 touchdown performance, while Eli came away with a loss after a up and down performance against the rival cowboys. Like most NFL games, the success of both teams will come down to their QB play.
Peyton has faced off against Eli twice in his career, and is 2-0. Their first game against each other happened in 2006. The Colts won 26-21. Peyton finished the game 25-41(61%) for 276 yards 1 touchdown and 1 interception, while Eli finished the game with 20-34(59%) for 247 yards 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. In their second matchup Peyton dominated a bit more. Their second matchup happened in 2010. The Colts won that game 38-14. Peyton finished by completing 20-26(77%) for 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. Eli had a less then stellar game. Eli finished the game with 13-24(54%) for 161 yards 2 touchdowns and 1 interception.
I expect another good Manning battle Sunday. I think Peyton will have another great game. No he won't get 7 touchdowns, but anywhere from to two to four touchdowns is expected. I do not think the Giants have enough on defense to slow down the Broncos passing attack. I don't know what to expect from Eli. He's a good Quarterback but is so inconsistent at times. I think Eli will bounce back from a up and down performance last week and have a good game. He won't do enough to lead the Giants to victory though.
2. Chris Harris Vs Victor Cruz:
Forget Manning Vs Manning, Harris Vs Cruz is the matchup I want to watch. Victor Cruz is the best slot receiver in the league not named Wes Welker. Like his brother, Eli works the slot very well, and looks to Cruz often. Victor Cruz caught 5 passes last week, 3 of them being touchdowns, and he totaled 118 yards. We don't want to see Cruz salsa dancing at all Sunday afternoon.
The man who will see Cruz for most of the afternoon is Chris Harris. Harris has been practicing all offseason against the best slot receiver in the game in Wes Welker, so he well prepared for this matchup. If Harris can shutdown, or limit Cruz it could be a very long game for the Giants offense.
3. A Running Game?
Last week the run game for both teams was non existent. Combined the two teams rushed for 115 yards on 37 carries. That comes out to 3.1 yards per carry. The Broncos couldn't do much of anything against the dominant Ravens front seven. Much to the dismay of the New York Giants coaches and fans (and my fantasy teams) starting running back David Wilson coughed up the ball twice. One of those fumbles ended up being a touchdown for the Dallas Cowboys defense. Wilson who has had fumbling issues before Is now in coach Tom Coughlins dog house.
It will be interesting to see who gets the nod at running back for both teams. The Broncos still list Ronnie Hillman as the starter on their official depth chart, but veteran Knowshon Moreno got the start last week. The Giants signed veteran Brandon Jacobs off the street this week. It will be interesting to see how much he has left in the tank. Third year player Da'Rel came in for the benched Wilson last week, so If I had to bet I would say Scott gets the start.
Unfortunately for the Giants I do not see them having a successful game on the ground again this week. The Broncos defense limited Ray Rice to 12 carries for 36 yards, and the Ravens as a whole to 21 carries for 58 yards(2.8 YPC). Meanwhile the Giants defense gave up 86 yards to DeMarco Murray on 20 carries(4.3 YPC). Also going against the Giants favor is talent. If they start Scott I dont expect a good day on the ground for the Giants. I think the Broncos get their running game going this sunday.
4. Von Miller Who?"
Since the suspension of Von Miller all we heard is how the Broncos defense wouldn't be able to get after the passer. Well that wasn't the case in week one of the season. The Broncos sacked Joe Flacco 4 times on Thursday night. Leading the way was veteran Shaun Phillips with 2.5 sacks. Chipping in as well was Robert Ayers with 1 sack and Wesley Woodyard with a .5 sack.
Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio showed multiple looks, and got creative with the blitz. I am anxious to see If the Broncos can get after Eli Manning this week. Eli Is one of the better QB's in the league at moving around in the pocket. So It won't be a easy test for the Broncos pass rush. I hope to see a 2 or 3 sack performance from the Broncos defense.
5. Protect Peyton:
For the last 10 years or so the New York Giants have relied on their pass rushing front four. In 2013 the Giant pass rush isn't the dominant one of 5 years ago, but still pretty good. Jason Pierre-Paul isn't 100% just yet, and Justin Tuck has totaled 9 sacks the last two years combined. Still these guys present tough match ups.
JPP is one most physically gifted defensive ends in the NFL and still will be a tough matchup for anyone. All Pro Left Tackle Ryan Clady will be going against JPP and at times Mathias Kiwanuka. Right Tackle Orlando Franklin will have a tough matchup against Justin Tuck. If Clady and Franklin do their job, it will be a very long day for the Giants defense.