In the final game before their bye week, the Giants (2-7) will look to snap a five-game losing streak on Sunday. They will face the local rival Jets (1-7), whom they have defeated three consecutive times as the “visiting” team.
Here are three keys to victory for the Giants:
1. Finish drives
It is not a novel idea. Finishing drives is the goal every week, but there is a major emphasis on it this Sunday. The Giants settled for four field goals last week, none longer than 29 yards. That meant the Giants worked their way to the Cowboys three-, seven-, eight- and 11-yard lines, but were unable to punch it into the end zone.
“Those are the types of plays where it can change the mood and change the outcome of the game,” said running back Saquon Barkley, who had a 65-yard catch-and-run on the last of the aforementioned possessions. “At the end of the day, we got three points, but we’ve still got to be better, and I think that’s where we’ve got to be better as a team, just play better complementary football as a whole.”
The good news: The Jets have allowed touchdowns on 65.4 percent of opponents’ red zone drives (29th in NFL).
2. Gap leverage
Dallas averaged 5.7 yards per rush for a total of 172 yards on the ground last week against the Giants. Explosive plays can inflate those numbers, but that was not the case on Monday night as the Cowboys’ longest run was just 19 yards. After Ezekiel Elliott, the Giants will likely face Le'Veon Bell, who is second only to Jim Brown with 123.6 career scrimmage yards per game (minimum 70 games). Bell missed Wednesday’s practice with knee/ankle issues and was limited on Thursday.
“Coming out of the [Cowboys] game, the thing that was really disappointing was obviously how we played in the run game,” defensive coordinator James Bettcher said. “It put us in some tough second downs, easy first down conversions. We have to do a better job of gap leverage. We have to do a better job coaching in those situations and we have to do a better job executing.”
The good news: The Jets offense has 16 plays of 20+ yards, the fewest in the NFL entering Week 10.
3. Ball security
This will continue to make the list until it is fixed. The Giants need to do a better job of protecting the football. They have turned the ball over a league-high 22 times entering Week 10, including 16 (eight interceptions, eight fumbles) from rookie quarterback Daniel Jones.
“The biggest thing is when you’re in the pocket and you’re not throwing the ball, until you’re throwing the ball, keep two hands on it,” offensive coordinator Mike Shula said. “Obviously, you want to keep it in front. But there are sometimes you just can’t help it. The best way you can get it where you’re not getting the ball stripped out is get the ball out faster. So, that’s us. That’s not just the quarterback. That’s us. That’s designing plays where the ball gets out faster, getting open faster, protecting a little bit longer, getting your reads quicker, all of those things come into it.”
The good news: The Jets are 27th in the league with a minus-seven turnover differential.
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