The Giants (0-1) host the Broncos (1-0) Sunday and it’s a huge game. But not just because Eli Manning’s big brother Peyton is leading the orange and blue charge, but because Big Blue doesn’t want to fall into a 0-2 hole to start the season.
Eli Manning and Co. have a ton of mistakes to atone for following their sloppy opening-game loss to the Cowboys, according to head coach Tom Coughlin. The Giants have been hard at work all week trying to fix their own flaws— while trying to find any in the high-powered Broncos.
Three things to watch for ...
1. Will running back David Wilson start?
Wilson lost two fumbles in the Dallas game and was promptly secured to the Giants’ bench for the rest of the game following a third-quarter scoop-and-score by safety Barry Church. Da’Rel Scott took the rest of the snaps, and to make matters more dicey for Wilson, the team signed Brandon Jacobs. If Wilson isn’t on high alert now about his job security, he’ll never be. Scott can be just as explosive in the open field and Jacobs is starving for a better second act as a Giant after basically spending a season away from football parked on the bench in San Francisco. Wilson insists the fumbling issue won’t follow him— physically or mentally— and he will be ready to carry the load.
“[Coughlin] was just yelling, [hold the ball] ‘high and tight’ and making sure we had two hands on the ball in certain situations ... [but] you can’t worry about that kind of stuff,” Wilson said. “You’ve just got to go out there and play your game and make plays.”
2. Big men on the run
The Broncos scored 35 points in the second half against the Ravens last week, continuing last season’s trend as the NFL’s leader in points scored after halftime. The track meet the Broncos forced the Ravens into showed just how deep and in shape Denver’s personnel is and how in-tune Peyton Manning is with the offense. The Giants beefed up their defensive line this year, adding Cullen Jenkins (310 pounds), Mike Patterson (310 pounds) and rookie Jonathan Hankins (330 pounds), as well as Shaun Rogers (360 pounds), who sat out last year with a blood clot in his calf. But will all that added girth slow down the Giants’ defense and actually be a hindrance in the waning minutes when most big men are running on fumes? Should the bigs show any sign of weakness or shortness of breath, Peyton Manning will make them pay.
3. Pick your poison
The Broncos’ offensive weapons could help Denver become the most prolific offense in NFL history, if opening night was any indication. Peyton Manning’s embarrassment of riches include a trio of wideouts (Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker) that may set league records for combined production. But with tight end Julius Thomas’s emergence against the Ravens, it now makes it difficult for any opponent to key on just one faction of the offense. The Thomases and Welker each had two touchdown receptions, which showed Peyton doesn’t show favorites. It’ll be up to Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell to decide whom to bracket or double cover and who to let run free with just single coverage. How clever Big Blue’s defense can mask coverages will go a long way in determining if they are able to slow down Denver’s vaunted passing attack.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.