We check in this week with Newsday NFL columnist/ESPN Third Take blowhard Bob Glauber to take the pulse of the Giants. We all know Glauber doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but I figured I’d humor him this week.
1. OK TV Boy, please tell me why I shouldn’t think Eli Manning is due for one of his classic three-pick games?
Glauber: “Oh ye Patriots writers of little faith. Manning is having one of his best statistical seasons yet, with a rating more than 20 points higher than his career average coming into the season. Manning is not forcing the ball like he did last year, and his decision-making is as good as it’s ever been. Is he capable of a three-pick game? Sure. Anybody is, even Tom Brady – see: 4 in Buffalo. I have to believe Manning will be attacking a secondary that has not been able to deal with the pass, so the possibilities surely will be there. Even more so because Hakeem Nicks, his go-to receiver, has been ruled out with a hamstring injury.”
2. Who is the one Giants player most Patriots fans don’t know right now, but will by the end of the game on Sunday?
Glauber: “Love that question, Bedard. Surprised you’d come up with something like that. I’m gonna go with tight end Jake Ballard. He played mostly on the practice squad last year after being signed as an undrafted free agent, and has begun to emerge as a receiving threat in recent weeks. He’s an excellent blocker, but Manning is now starting to trust him in the passing game, and I think you’ll see more of that, especially since Nicks is out.”
3. What’s the biggest weakness on the Giants’ offense you expect the Patriots to try to exploit?
Glauber: “The Giants have been inconsistent with their run blocking, so that’s probably their greatest concern. Tom Coughlin was especially critical of the run blocking this week – more than usual, because he singled out the problem very definitively. When I mentioned to him that he rarely calls out players – or, in this case, a unit of players – he piled on some more. Not just the offensive line here. It’s fullback Henry Hynoski and the tight ends, too. The Giants want to establish balance on offense, but they’ve been unable to in recent weeks because of the erratic run blocking.”
4. What’s the biggest weakness on the Giants’ defense you expect the Patriots to try to exploit?
Glauber: “Run defense, no question. It has been mostly abysmal, in large part because Greg Jones is playing middle linebacker as a rookie after Jonathan Goff went out with a season-ending knee injury. Linebacker Michael Boley has mostly underachieved, although he has had his moments this year.”
5. Finally, Giants win on Sunday if….
Glauber: “They are successful using a four-man rush to get to Brady – like they did in the Super Bowl – they can get Brandon Jacobs going in the running game in the absence of Ahmad Bradshaw (ruled out with a cracked bone in his foot) and they can force at least two turnovers.”
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Thanks to Bob for taking the time to do this. We know this isn’t on camera, so it’s tough to get his attention. In all seriousness, we love Glaubs and he’s been one of the best NFL columnists for a long time (I’ll leave THAT joke alone). He’s always been a great source of knowledge for me over the years. Make sure you follow him on Twitter, and check out Newsday’s coverage.