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Cover 3: Giants WR's vs. Giants DB's

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3 Giants writers debate who would win between the Giants receiving corps and secondary:

The Giants boasted one of the best secondaries in the NFL last season. With the recent addition of Brandon Marshall, the same could be said for the receiving corps this year.


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In this week's "Cover 3" on Giants.com, we asked our staffers about which is the bigger strength right now and how they would fare against each other in a simulated game. Here is what they had to say:

RECEIVERS RULE
By John Schmeelk

I have to go with the Giants wide receiver corps here. The Giants have some of the best CB's in football but no one can cover Odell Beckham Jr. without help. Once help is shifted to that side of the field, you have to like Brandon Marshall one on one, even against the Giants excellent CB group due to his unique combination of physical skills, especially his size.

This "flag football" scenario by its nature gives an advantage to the offense. The best chance a defense has against a top group of wide receivers is by rushing the passer and disrupting the quarterback.

If the Giants defense as a whole took on the Giants offense, I would probably go with the defense due to their ability to pressure Eli Manning. Unfortunately, that is not part of the question here. If it is just the Giants defensive backfield against then Giants WR's I have to go with the wide receivers.

SECONDARY SUCCESS
By Dan Salomone

I'm going with the DB's. The Giants allowed a league-low 25 offensive touchdowns last season, only 15 of which were through the air. That is one fewer than Seattle's vaunted Legion of Boom. Just let that sink in.

The Giants gave up 31 passing touchdowns the year before that. Of course, the corners and safeties deflect praise to the front four, but it's not like Olivier Vernon was covering Dez Bryant and holding the Cowboys receiver to just two receptions, 18 yards, and a lost fumble in their two meetings last year. That was Pro Bowler Janoris Jenkins, who also picked up second-team All-Pro honors with fellow cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Behind them you have first-team All-Pro safety Landon Collins, who had one of the best seasons in the history of his position and was a legit contender for Defensive MVP. This secondary is talented, and it is deep. You have to like its chances against any receiving corps in the league.

WIN FOR WIDEOUTS
By Lance Medow

I'm assuming Eli Manning is playing quarterback in this hypothetical game and not John Schmeelk or else the receiving corps is in a whole lot of trouble -- though I'd grab my popcorn and watch that comedy.  In all seriousness, this is about the matchups and here's how I see things lining up:*  *Odell Beckham vs. Janoris Jenkins, Brandon Marshall vs. Eli Apple and, in the slot, Sterling Shepard vs. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.  While it would be easy to put the two players with the least amount of experience (Apple, Shepard) against one another so DRC can take Marshall, keep in mind Apple is just one inch shorter than DRC. So you're not giving up much height and the slot is the most challenging spot to play for any corner, regardless of how many other players are on the field.

Jenkins was very strong against No. 1 wideouts in 2016, especially Dez Bryant. So this isn't a breeze for Beckham, despite him going up against Jenkins in practice on a consistent basis.  It's easy to say "wash" here, given you have a pair of Pro Bowlers, but I'll give the slight edge to Beckham because without any safety help over the course of the game, Odell is bound to make at least one big play.  DRC gets the edge against Shepard for a variety of reasons.  His experience is a huge advantage, but don't overlook how his length and size will help him recover if he gets behind on the play.  Rodgers-Cromartie's experience is what helped him make a smooth transition to playing the slot in 2016 after being mainly used on the outside in his first few seasons with the Giants.  If you don't think DRC deserves this kind of credit, then just look at what happened in the second half of the Giants wild card playoff loss to the Packers earlier this year.     

After two matchups we're tied at 1-1, so this comes down to the veteran wideout Brandon Marshall against second-year corner Eli Apple.  It's hard not to take Marshall in this head-to-head, but it's not so much about his experience.  I think Apple will make his fair share of plays over the course of the game.  It simply comes down to Marshall's effectiveness in the red zone.  Even though there's not nearly as much space for Apple to cover, more often than not Marshall wins the 50-50 balls, regardless of who's covering him.  I'll take Beckham, Marshall and Shepard over Jenkins, DRC and Apple.

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