The New York Giants (2-11) take the field against the Miami Dolphins (3-10) at MetLife Stadium this Sunday. This Week 15 matchup represents the first meeting between the two teams since 2015, when the Giants defeated the Dolphins, 31-24.
Here are three keys to victory for the Giants:
Convert on third down
Converting on third down has been the Achilles heel of the Giants' offense this season, especially over the last few games. The Giants rank 21st in the NFL with a conversion rate of 35.7% on third down. However, over the last three weeks, the Giants have gone just 8-for-38 on third downs since the bye, a 21.1% success rate. On Monday in Philadelphia, they converted just two third down attempts all game, including zero in the second half. By not extending drives, the offense was unable to get going and picked up just 30 total yards in the second half. As a result, Philadelphia dominated the time of possession, controlling the ball for about twice as long as the Giants. Miami is ranked 26th in third down defense (43.9%), and has allowed their last three opponents to go a total of 17-of-36 (47.2%) on third down.
"I think the biggest thing was we just couldn't stay on the field," offensive coordinator Mike Shula said Thursday on why Darius Slayton was only targeted twice (no catches) in the second half of Monday's game. "We were bad on third down. We needed to be better. Unfortunately, we had a chance at the end to get him the ball, and we didn't come up with a play. They made a good play at the end. But more importantly, you don't want to force it. When you don't have a lot of plays, it's hard to do those kinds of things."
Put pressure on Fitzpatrick
The Giants have collected 29 sacks through 13 games, tied for 23rd in the league. The Giants' pass rushers have shown flashes throughout the season. Markus Golden has racked up 8.5 sacks, Oshane Ximines is coming off a two-sack performance Monday night, and the defense as a whole just recorded 10 quarterback hits on Carson Wentz. Miami enters this matchup having allowed the most sacks in the NFL this year (51).
Four of Miami's projected starting offensive linemen have earned pass blocking grades of 60.0 or below from Pro Football Focus, which means it will be vital for the pass rush to get after Ryan Fitzpatrick. The veteran quarterback is averaging over 285 passing yards per game over his last four starts, and has shown throughout his career that he is not afraid to sling the ball downfield. Janoris Jenkins has yet to practice this week, and if the veteran is unable to play, the team's young corners will have to match up with Miami's receivers. It will be important for the Giants to generate a strong pass rush in order to keep Fitzpatrick from having too much time to find a receiver downfield.
Give the QB time in the pocket
On the other side of the ball, the offensive has to give the quarterback time in the pocket, regardless if it's Eli Manning or Daniel Jones under center. The Giants are tied for 20th in the league with 37 sacks allowed on the season, but have only surrendered three sacks over the last three games. However, guard Kevin Zeitler has yet to participate in practice this week, making it unlikely that he is able to play Sunday. His replacement, Nick Gates, performed well in his one start earlier this season.
Whichever quarterback is out there, if he is given time to operate and find his receivers, then he could be in for a very big day. The Dolphins rank 23rd in the NFL with 256.6 passing yards allowed per game, and over the last three weeks against Sam Darnold, Wentz and Baker Mayfield, that number is 302.3 passing yards a game. Two of Miami's top three corners, Ken Webster and Jomal Wiltz, have earned coverage grades below 50.0 from PFF this year, while their defense has given up 31 passing touchdowns through 13 games, only one behind the Arizona Cardinals for the league lead. In addition to the Dolphins' struggling pass defense, their pass rush has collected a league-worst 17 sacks on the year, with only five sacks over their last five games. The Giants have not thrown for 300 yards since Week 10.
Giants vs. Dolphins Broadcast Info: TV channel, Radio Station and Live Stream.