After the pre-game niceties, moods will quickly change in Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday. Both the Giants and the home team Bengals have something to prove and are in a must win scenario in this showdown. Though, Cincinnati’s chances look dim on a day the team is honoring veterans with many festivities, they will have to lay it all on the line and play with a sense of urgency to keep their season alive. Urgency is not lost on the Giants either, as they try to snap back after a loss to the Steelers last week. For New York, all eyes will be on Manning to see if he can end and move on past his recent slump.
The Bengals will have every opportunity to win if Eli Manning can’t get it together in Cincinnati. With a little execution and opportunistic play, the team can turn their fate in week 10. There are few matchups to look out for on Sunday afternoon.
Last week Andy Dalton was sacked five times and with their two starting centers suffering from injuries, the young Robinson may be forced to start again this week. Last week, he did not prove his ability to get much push off of the line. He wasn’t the only one that struggled though; Andre Smith and Andrew Whitworth also seemed to have issues. The fourth best pass protector in the NFL, Whitworth was even called for two uncharacteristic holding calls and a false start against Denver. Whitworth will be going up against Pierre-Paul and Umenyiora who have combined for 10.5 sacks this season.
Last week, however, the Giants line had issues with the play calling that kept the defensive front off-balance, leaving Roethlisberger more time in the pocket. If Whitworth and Smith can improve this week and keep the Giants’ defensive line off-balance once again, Dalton will be free to wait for guys to get open without being rushed into would-be interception plays. That is an area where Dalton has struggled all season.
A good defensive matchup to watch in the game will be David Diehl at right guard for the Giants and Geno Atkins, the Sack King, for the Bengals. Atkins is on pace to eclipse the Bengals’ sack record this year, and will be aiming to notch a few more in his belt against Eli Manning. Diehl struggled last week, allowing one sack and he had trouble keeping pressure off of Manning. With Chris Snee out, Diehl will get the start this week with James Brewer. Manning is great under pressure, but if Atkins can get to him and get his arms around him, he could single handedly send Manning into a downward spiral in this game.
Another key pairing to watch of this week week comes on the heels of A.J. Green’s controversial comments about the Giants defense. The New York backfield is going to have a vendetta out for the receiver and looking to make him pay every time he touches the ball. The good news for A.J., though, is there are actually holes in the Giants backfield and he will be matched up for most of the game against Corey Webster. Although Webster is a bulldog at cornerback, he is also only 6’0”. Green stands at 6’4” and offers a dramatic size advantage in the matchup. Pair that with his speed and his hands, and Green could point out New York’s holes first hand.
This game should be an interesting one to watch as both teams need to win this afternoon to prove their naysayers wrong.