Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
They may not like to admit it, but the New York Giants have to admire what the divisional rival Philadelphia Eagles achieved out in the ‘Black Hole’ in Week 9. Head Coach Tom Coughlin could do a lot worse than to follow the Eagles’ blueprint as the Giants prepare to host the Oakland Raiders in Week 10.
The Giants suffered a sizable setback in Week 9 without even entering the field. Whilst the Giants were at home recharging on their bye week, all three of their divisional counterparts came away with a ‘W’ to significantly up the ante in the NFC East. Nevertheless, the G-Men still have every reason to be upbeat. Their roster is looking healthier than it has done all season, mistakes have been significantly reduced, and the defense is has not allowed an offensive score in the last two games as the Giants emerged victorious in both.
The Raiders have to go coast-to-coast in their Week 10 visit to the Meadowlands, something that teams have struggled with historically. The 1 p.m. (EST) kick-off will effectively be a 10 a.m. start on Oakland time, an advantage that the Giants must seize. The Raiders are 3-5 on the season and already way behind in a division that includes the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos. Ironically, the Giants are currently better positioned to make the postseason despite having a worse record than their visitors in Week 10.
The Raiders are a very much a team in transition with little to play for on the second half of the season. That being said, the Giants must guard against complacency as this release of inhibitions can often bring out the best in a team that has nothing to lose.
Dennis Allen‘s men are 0-2 against the NFC East this season having lost home games against the Washington Redskins and Eagles, the latter of which they will remember for all the wrong reasons. The Raiders were humbled by a then 3-5 Eagles side in Week 9 who themselves were at a low ebb after a lackluster showing against the Giants one week earlier. Quarterback Nick Foles tied an NFL record completing seven touchdown passes and making a mockery of an anonymous Raiders pass-defense. Foles finished the day with 406 passing yards whilst helping Riley Cooper on his way to his biggest performance as a pro to date with 139 receiving yards and three touchdown receptions.
The statistical anomaly from the Raiders’ blowout defeat in Week 9 was that they actually combined for more net-offensive yards than their opposition. Rod Streater and Denarius Moore both had admirable receiving outings whilst Rashad Jennings rendered leading rusher Darren McFadden near-obsolete with a huge all-purpose outing of 176 yards and one touchdown. Mobile quarterback Terrelle Pryor contributed 288 passing yards and added an extra 94 rushing on just 10 attempts as part of an offense that was noticeably let down by their defense.
So where do the Giants fit in to this equation? You have to consider if this is what Foles and Cooper can achieve on the road against the 25th ranked Raiders’ aerial defense, imagine the possibilities for Eli Manning and his talented receiving corps on home soil. The Giants have been stripped-down in the past two weeks and were solid rather than spectacular in their opening victories of the 2013 season. Manning is spoiled for choice with three talented receivers at his disposal, and the additional of Peyton Hillis as a third-down running back has helped eliminate the mistakes that made him the most-intercepted quarterback in the league through nine weeks of the season.
No Giants receiver has a 100-plus-yard outing in the last three weeks, though the potential is undoubted. Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle should be salivating at the prospect of facing a Raiders secondary that went missing-in-action in Week 9.
The Raiders’ visit to MetLife Stadium kicks off a three-game homestand for the Giants which now has extra impetus given the clean sweep by the NFC East in Week 9. The match-up provides the chance for Kevin Gilbride to loosen the shackles and be expressive with his offense. The Eagles’ offensive ingenuity exposed the Raiders, and after two conservative performances the Giants have more than enough talent to follow suit. Go forth, take to the skies and prosper.