The New York Giants (5-3) will welcome the Cincinnati Bengals (3-4-1) to MetLife Stadium tonight to wrap up an exciting Week 10 in the NFL. The Giants are riding high on a three-game winning streak after defeating division foe Philadelphia 28-23 last Sunday. The win propelled New York to second place in the NFC East. The Giants hope to carry their recent burst of momentum into tonight’s game against the Bengals. A win would be pivotal to New York’s division title aspirations, as the Giants try to stay in the hunt with the red-hot Cowboys (8-1) down the stretch. A victory over the Bengals also would provide the Giants with their first four-game winning streak since 2013. A loss would not only put the Giants’ division title hopes in serious peril, it also could put their playoff aspirations in jeopardy as well.
The Bengals enter this Monday night matchup fresh off of a bye week. They last played in London in Week 8, a game that resulted in a 27-27 tie with the Redskins. A well-rested Bengals team must now turn their attention to the upstart Giants. Cincinnati could even its record at 4-4-1 on the season with a much-needed victory and make the AFC North even more interesting. Baltimore (5-4) currently leads with Pittsburgh (4-5 ) just a game behind. The Bengals also are looking for momentum as they enter one of their toughest stretches with games against the Bills, Ravens and Eagles to follow tonight’s road test.
Tonight’s matchup will mark just the 10th meeting all-time between the two teams dating back to 1972. Cincinnati leads 6-3 in a series that has seen the home team win every game.
Cincinnati at New York
Kickoff: Monday, Nov. 14 at 8:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Spread: Giants -1
Three Things to Watch
1. Giants’ Passing Game vs. Bengals’ Pass Defense
The passing attack has been the driving force for the Giants’ offense all season. Thanks in large part to Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr., the Giants have been able to overcome an anemic run game that averages just 68 rushing yards per game and ranks dead last in the league. The good news is that New York should be able to lean heavily on the NFL’s No. 6 passing game (272 ypg) once again tonight.
The Bengals have struggled to defend the pass all season, giving up 262 passing yards per game, which ranks 21st in the league. They gave up 446 passing yards to the Redskins in their last game alone. While Manning will need to be aware of a strong Bengals pass rush led by Carlos Dunlap (5 sacks) and Geno Atkins (3.5), it isn’t a pressing concern for a Giants offensive line that has allowed the second-fewest sacks (12) this season.
Look for the Giants to take to the air early and often against a struggling Cincinnati secondary. Beckham will be an obvious focal point. However, you can probably expect to see plenty of Sterling Shepard and Roger Lewis Jr. tonight as well. The Giants’ rookie pass catchers will need to fill the void if the injured Victor Cruz (ankle) is unable to play.
2. Is Tyler Eifert the X-factor for the Bengals’ Passing Game?
Andy Dalton and the NFL’s fourth-ranked passing attack (275 ypg) should have no trouble moving the ball through the air tonight. The Giants have a shaky pass defense that ranks just 25th in the league, giving up 277 passing yards per game. And the Bengals have big-play receiver A.J. Green, who leads the NFL in both receptions (59) and receiving yards per game (112).
The problem is that Dalton has just nine touchdown passes in eight games. And despite the fact that the Giants have been very generous in terms of passing yards, they have been very stingy when it comes to giving up points through the air. New York has allowed just seven touchdown passes to this point and rank first in the league in red zone defense.
This is where Eifert comes in. After missing the first six games while recovering from offseason ankle surgery, the Pro Bowl tight end who led the league in touchdown catches (13) last season is back in the starting lineup. Two weeks ago, Eifert torched Washington for nine catches (on 12 targets), 102 yards and a touchdown. His presence will especially be felt in the red zone, one area in which the Giants’ defense has thrived thus far. Green is a matchup nightmare on his own, but having Eifert back gives Dalton a formidable one-two punch in the red zone. It will be interesting to see if Cincinnati can make the most of any visits inside New York’s 20-yard line tonight.
3. Bengals’ Rushing Attack vs. Giants’ Run Defense
Cincinnati’s ground game got off to a slow start, but has been hitting on all cylinders as of late. Over the last three games, the Bengals are averaging 181 rushing yards per contest with six rushing touchdowns during that stretch. Jeremy Hill is averaging more than five yards per carry and Giovani Bernard has scored on the ground in each of the last two games.
Cincinnati will attempt to keep the momentum rolling on the ground tonight against a New York defense that has been tough on the run. The Giants are giving up just 3.6 yards per carry, which places them sixth in the NFL. This should make for one of the more intriguing matchups tonight in a game chock-full of compelling storylines.
Week after week, the Giants’ passing game has been able to offset a terrible run game to come away with a narrow victory. And make no mistake, Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. are fully capable of making that happen again against a susceptible Bengals pass defense. That being said, New York’s lack of balance on offense is well overdue to catch up with this team. And while it’s difficult to go against the momentum of a winning streak, the Giants’ good fortune seems due to expire as well.
This is a game that will likely come down to the wire, and in all honesty, it could go either way. However, a red-hot Bengals running attack, combined with contributions in the passing game from A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert should be enough to score a mild upset, providing the road team with its first-ever victory in the series in the process.
Prediction: Bengals 27, Giants 24
Written by Rob McVey, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @Rob_UTVOLS.