It’s a crossroads game for two teams coming off disappointing losses. For the Giants, their defense looked terrible in a 38–14 pounding by the Indianapolis Colts. And for the Titans, their offense was so bad in a 19–11 loss to Pittsburgh that Vince Young got benched after throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble. Which way will it go for these teams? Can Young regain the promise he showed a year ago and keep his job away from Kerry Collins? And is the Giants defense as good as it looked on opening day, or as bad as it looked last weekend? This game could set a new tone for both teams.
Keys for the Giants
• Stop the run. They did a masterful job of that in the opener against DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart of the Panthers. But they concentrated so much on pass defense when they played the Colts, that Indianapolis’ running backs chewed them up. There’s no secret what the Titans will try to do with Chris Johnson as their engine.
• Establish the run. The Giants’ rushing attack has been mostly anemic since the end of the 2008 season. They haven’t had a 100-yard rusher since last October. In a game that figures to be low scoring, they can’t put Eli Manning in a position where the Titans’ defense knows he has to pass. They must be balanced.
Keys for the Titans
• No turnovers. They run a ball-control offense, but Young tends to be sloppy at times. They are probably more physical than the Giants and should be able to control the clock. As long as they don’t hand the Giants the ball at key moments, they should be fine. That means don’t let Young do anything too risky.
• Pressure the quarterback. If Manning has time to throw, he’s got a dangerous array of receivers to target, especially now that wide receiver Hakeem Nicks is healthy. Underrated tight end Kevin Boss is back, too. But the offensive line is a weak spot, as the Colts showed. The Titans’ defensive front needs to get to Manning as often as possible and force him into mistakes.
Both teams have been too one-dimensional this season. But the Giants’ rushing attack has a better chance of getting in gear than the Titans’ passing attack does. In a close game, go with the better quarterback. Giants 20–17.