The Giants will try to pick up their second consecutive win when they travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs Monday night.
Big Blue is coming off a 25-3 victory over the Panthers in Week 7. The defense held Carolina to just three points and 173 total yards and had six sacks, all of which were season-best marks for the unit. It also held the Panthers to 2-of-15 on third down.
The Kansas City offense registered season-low marks of three points and 334 total yards, while the offense turned the ball over three times as they fell to the Titans, 27-3.
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Keep the momentum going
The Giants put together their best overall performance of the season against the Panthers. Heading into Week 7, Carolina had not finished a game with less than 18 points or 267 total yards.
Big Blue was also able to move the ball on offense, despite missing their top four playmakers. Daniel Jones (sacked twice) completed 70 percent of his passes for 203 yards and a touchdown, adding 28 yards on the ground, while not turning over the ball. The unit got solid performances from Darius Slayton, Evan Engram and Dante Pettis, while Devontae Booker filled in admirably for Saquon Barkley.
The special teams stepped up big, too. Graham Gano connected on all five of his kicks (three field goals, two extra points), including FGs of 49, 53 and 44 yards. Gano broke the Giants' all-time record for most field goals of 50+ yards, and was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week.
Will any injured playmakers return?
The offense recorded 25 points and over 300 total yards of offense despite missing several of the team's top playmaker. Barkley missed his second consecutive game after hurting his ankle during the Week 5 loss against the Cowboys and has yet to return to practice. The team was also without their top three wide receivers in Week 7. After returning to the field in Week 6, Sterling Shepard was unable to overcome his hamstring injury in time to play against the Panthers. Kenny Golladay (knee) and Kadarius Toney (ankle) alsomissed Sunday's game and head coach Joe Judge indicated on Wednesday their returns are on different timelines.
"Being a Monday night game, there's a little bit more of a window of time," Coach Joe Judge said Wednesday about the injured playmakers. "They've all made progress. We're going to move them around today. Tomorrow, we'll probably have a much better idea in terms of going into the game with them (and) what they're going to look like. I wouldn't say anything that happens today or tomorrow would rule them out or guarantee them at the game, but today should give us a little bit of an insight to it and then really tomorrow in terms of how much they can do individually, how much they can do in some team periods, what are they able to do when they're out there...
"There's different timetables for all of these guys. I'm not going to go ahead and give a 'This guy's further ahead.' With these injuries, it sounds like day by day different guys are at different points and some days it sounds like one guy is further along than another guy. What we ask from the trainers is just give us accurate information and let us know so we can plan accordingly."
With those four out, the Giants saw several players step up in their absence. Devontae Booker led the backfield in touches, taking 14 carries for 51 yards and a touchdown while adding two receptions for 15 yards. Dante Pettis caught five passes for 39 yards and a touchdown, while Darius Slayton, in his first game back since Week 3, led the team with 63 receiving yards on five receptions. Tight end Evan Engram also caught a team-high six passes for 44 yards.
"Every player we bring to the game, we expect to play," Judge said Monday. "We coach every player, we develop every player, everyone's expected to come in and produce and execute on Sunday. In terms of whoever's available, we want everybody to be available. The reality is that sometimes that doesn't happen, that's just the nature of the National Football League. Whoever we have up, we're going to go out and we expect to compete and we expect to have success."
Win the turnover battle
For the second time this season, the Giants' offense did not turn the ball over in Week 7. On the other side of the ball, cornerback James Bradberry had an interception against Sam Darnold, matching his career-high of three picks on the season.
"I think when you're playing good football, that gives other guys around you an opportunity to have success," Coach Judge said Monday. "When you're not playing well, it puts more stress on the man next to you, so to me that's why you have to rely on all 11 to do their job. Obviously, the quarterback and his position touches the ball every pay, he's the guy the offense runs through. Obviously, he has to play well for anyone to have success."
The Giants' defense goes into Monday tied for the 10th-most turnovers with nine. The Chiefs have turned over the ball 17 times in the first seven games, five more than the next highest total. Kansas City's offense has at least three turnovers in each of its last three games and in four of its last five. Patrick Mahomes has thrown nine interceptions along with two fumbles lost.
View rare photos of the history between the New York Giants and Kansas City Chiefs ahead of their Week 8 matchup on Monday Night Football.
Don't let Mahomes get rolling
From 2018-20 with Patrick Mahomes starting under center, the Chiefs won 12, 11 and 14 games, with one Super Bowl championship, another Super Bowl appearance and an additional trip to the AFC Championship. With all of this success over the last three seasons, it is surprising to see Kansas City sitting at 3-4 and leading the league in turnovers by a significant margin. However, don't mistake some of these early-season struggles for a bad team; the Chiefs' offense is still dangerous.
Mahomes is coming off the worst game of his career. In last week's 27-3 loss to the Titans, the 26-year-old completed just 57 percent of his passes for a season-low 206 yards and no TDs. Mahomes threw his ninth interception of the season, lost his second fumble, and was pulled late in the fourth quarter with the game well out of reach. It was the first game this season in which he did not throw multiple touchdowns, as he was averaging three per game in the first six weeks of the season. Even with his struggles, he is still completing a career-best 67.5 percent of his passes for 2,093 yards and 18 touchdowns.
"He looks like one of the best quarterbacks in the world to me," Judge said about Mahomes. "This guy is – look, to be as athletic as he is, as just naturally instinctive as he is and have that kind of arm strength to make all those throws, there's a reason this guy gets paid that much money because there's not a lot of these guys walking the Earth. This guy's extremely talented. He's got a lot of savvy and experience. I think he does a great job of going through the initial reads, finding the right receiver and if something gets shut down, extending the play."
The Giants' defense shut down Sam Darnold last week, limiting the quarterback to just 111 yards on 16-of-25 passing with an interception. Darnold was pulled from the game in the second half for P.J. Walker, who mustered just three completions on 14 attempts for 33 yards. The two quarterbacks were sacked three times apiece, giving the Giants an average of 2.3 sacks per game. The Chiefs are allowing an average of 2.0 sacks per game.
Look out for Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce
Tyreek Hill is the Chiefs' leading receiver and has true breakaway speed. Through the first seven games, Hill has 52 receptions for 641 yards and five touchdowns, along with five rushes for 63 yards. The receptions are tied for the second-most in the NFL, while his receiving yards rank fifth. Hill's 72 targets are the most on the team and fourth-most in the league.
"He's definitely a different breed. He's an athletic freak. It'll be a challenge..." safety Xavier McKinney said about Hill.
Coming right behind Hill in targets is the incredibly talented Travis Kelce. Kelce has recorded 83+ receptions and 1,038+ yards in each of the last five seasons. In 15 games last season, Kelce caught a whopping 105 passes for 1,416 yards and 11 touchdowns. Through the first seven games of 2021, the five-time All Pro tight end has 45 receptions for 533 yards and four touchdowns.
"He can block. He can run routes. He's a very savvy guy from what I've seen," McKinney added about Kelce. "Just a really good tight end. I respect him a lot, we respect him as a team. I think it'll be a challenge for us, but we'll be ready."
The Giants have done a relatively good job at limiting opposing tight ends this season. Only Denver's Noah Fant and Dallas' Dalton Schultz have registered more than five receptions and 45 yards. However, the defense has allowed four touchdowns in seven games to the position. The Giants' did a great job of slowing down Panthers top WR D.J. Moore last week, keeping him to six receptions for 73 yards.