Written by: Tony “The Prophet” Yantosca
The Giants couldn’t do anything right vs the Titans last week. They were not playing a replacement quarterback against whom they have feasted to get their few wins this season. Not that Mariota is Joe Montana, but he is an experience signal caller. Beckham was out for the second game in a row. I went back and looked how many games he has missed and it is 19 going on 20 as he is not playing this week. That is 25% of all his games so far. That’s a ton of games for someone who just got paid the mother lode. Their offense is not the same without him. Engram is the big recipient of targets in his absence. He had 12 targets, the most for both teams, and caught 8 for 75 yards. Eight different pass catchers caught at least 1 pass. Shepard disappeared only catching 2 balls on 9 targets. The Giants then rely on Barkley and he had one of his worst games as the Giants OL could not manage much push against the Titans defensive front. Barkley just had 31 yards on the ground and 25 yards through the air, only catching 4 of his 10 targets.
Eli was the bad Eli this game. Eli only threw for 229 yards on 44 attempts. This is a super low 5.2 yard an attempt. We had the good Eli last week where he had elite almost 9 yards per attempt. Eli threw a pick, fumbled and lost the ball and was sacked 3 times. The Giants were a low 19% on third down efficiency. The offensive line could not block for the run nor could they protect Eli.
Titans coach, Vrabel, finally discovered how to utilize Derrick Henry the week before with a 4 TD performance vs Jacksonville. I don’t know what took him so long. All he had to do is watch the Alabama championship games. He took over against the Gmen. He looked like the large kid at pee wee football that is big for his age. The smaller kids are hanging on to his limbs and he just swats them away as he rumbles through them. The Giants defense could not stop him. It was an embarrassing display as Henry racked up 170 yards and 2 TD’s. The Giants just could not tackle him. He gave them the ball for 35:21 minutes of the game.
This week’s opponent, the Colts, are fighting for a playoff berth as an AFC wild card. The Giants are facing another runner, Marlon Mack, who just came into his own before playing the Giants. He had 139 yards and 2 TD’s against a good Dallas defense last week. Since the Giants traded Snacks Harrison they have not been able to stop the run. Last week is evidence of this. If Luck has a good run game, he can run play action and take some shots to TY Hilton. TY has had 5 catches for a minimum of 75 yards for 6 consecutive weeks.
The big difference for the Colts is the improvement in the offensive line thanks in large to Quinton Nelson, 2018 #6 draft pick. If he was a tackle instead of a guard he would have gone 1st overall in the draft. The line is protecting Luck and allowing the run production. Luck has been only sacked 16 times this year vs Indy giving up 56 sacks last year. This offense has nearly 50% third down conversion at 48.4%. It’s easy to maintain drives at this rate. The Giants have been vulnerable to the tight end especially now that S Landon Collins is on IR. Pro Bowl TE, Eric Ebron, should have a big day. Mo Alie-Cox is active this week, so don’t be surprised if you see 12 personnel throughout the game. They also utilized jack Doyle at TE in this formation but he has been on IT for weeks.
The Giants will want to run the ball with Barkley to try for some long drives to keep Luck off the field. Eli has fallen off with less than 235 yards in 5 of the last 6 games. This has fired talk radio discussions with one side saying he’s done and they should have drafted Darnold, and the other camp is saying we can get at least 1 more year out of him. It is very fair to say that Eli has deteriorated more than both Big Ben and Rivers who were drafted at the top of the 2004 draft. Getting back to the game, Engram has become the number 1 target in the absence of OBJ with 24% share of the targets. Unfortunately Sterling Shepard has become the X receiver and he is drawing the top corner that used to cover OBJ. It has seriously hurt his production. You will also see Fowler, Coleman, and Russell Shepard getting a handful of catches. The Giants are facing 2018 2nd round pick, LB Darius Leonard, who is a tackling machine at the top at the tackle list with 146 tackles.
The Giants do play better on the road. They are 6-0 against the spread in their last 6 road games, even though they did not win all of them. However, the Colts are going for a playoff berth, and Baltimore and Tennessee both won putting pressure on them. I expect that the Colts handle business at home as the Giants have two more games to play out and then ponder what went wrong and how does it fixed in 2019. I am calling the week 16 game: Colts 31 and the Giants 16.