There are plenty of storylines heading into Monday Night Football, but the Giants won't entertain one of them.
"I think it's a foolish narrative for us to buy into if we think this team isn't as good as they are," coach Joe Judge said of the Chiefs. "This is a damn good team. They're very explosive. They're very dangerous. These guys are going to be playing their best ball Monday night. We're going out into a tough atmosphere. It's a lot of great energy out there, so we've got to get ready this week to play our best football."
The Chiefs are 3-4, their worst record through seven games since 2015. That year, they started 2-5, but won nine games in a row to finish the season 11-5 and earn a playoff berth.
Coincidentally, the Giants enter Arrowhead Stadium with a 2-5 record following a Week 7 victory over the Panthers. Their other win came in a hostile environment in New Orleans, similar to the one they will face on Monday.
Here are three things the Giants need to do for a primetime victory:
Minimize the game-wreckers
Judge and assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Patrick Graham didn't list every Chiefs weapon when they spoke with the media this week for one simple reason: not enough time.
For the sake of brevity, the list of weapons at Mahomes' disposal starts with perennial All-Pros Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. The tight end and wide receiver have combined for 1,174 rec yards this season, second-most by a teammate duo in the NFL behind the Rams' Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods (1,232). Kelce needs 86 receiving yards to become the eighth tight end in NFL history with 8,500+ yards. The fewest games to reach the benchmark at the position was 132 by Rob Gronkowski (earlier this season). Kelce will play his 119th game in Week 8.
"[You're] trying to minimize the game-wreckers, the guys who are going to wreck the game," Graham said. "I would say offensively, defensively, special teams-wise, that's how I was raised. Let's try to minimize the game-wreckers and then you've got to ID who the game-wreckers are. Again, that's the hard thing. When you don't get that done, you're probably not going to win the game because those guys are game wreckers for a reason. Anytime they get the ball in their hands, there's a chance for them to score, there's a chance for them to get an explosive play to put them in position to score. I would say most of the time you're trying to do that. It always starts for me [with] stopping the run, who are the game wreckers [and] can we minimize their impact on the game and then try to expose their weaknesses if they have any. Again, this team is really hard to find any weaknesses."
Turnovers will be the difference
No team has made the Super Bowl after averaging two giveaways per game since the 2007 Giants. The Chiefs, who have made back-to-back Super Bowls and won one, are averaging 2.4 in their pursuit of a third consecutive AFC championship. They are tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars with a league-worst, minus-10 turnover differential. Their 17 giveaways are five more than the next closest team in the league as Houston, Jacksonville, and the New York Jets have all turned the ball over 12 times.
Aside from the lopsided loss to the Rams in Week 6, when Daniel Jones threw three interceptions and lost one fumble, the Giants have taken strides in that department this season. They are tied for 13th with an even turnover differential (with nine giveaways and nine takeaways)
What do you know about pressure
According to Next Gen Stats, the Giants had 18 QB pressures and a 40.0 percent pressure rate in Week 7 (both season highs). Meanwhile, Mahomes has a 35.6 completion percentage with three touchdowns, three interceptions and a 51.8 passer rating when pressured this season.
Lowest Completion Percentage Under Pressure, per Next Gen Stats:
- Justin Fields (CHI) 29.0
- Zach Wilson (NYJ) 29.8
- Patrick Mahomes (KC) 35.6
- Jalen Hurts (PHI) 38.7
Panthers quarterbacks Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker had a combined 48.7 completion percentage last week. Entering that game, opposing quarterbacks had completed a league-high 73.9 percent of their passes against the Giants. It's easier said than done against Mahomes, who can make magic with his legs.
"It's super challenging," said second-year safety Xavier McKinney, who will take on an even greater role after Jabrill Peppers was placed on injured reserve this week. "It's always hard when you face a QB that's able to extend the play for a long time. Obviously, we've got another challenge in him. It's a lot of challenges that we'll face with this team. We've just got to be prepared and be ready for it, but he can extend plays for a long time. He does a good job of just being able to look different things off and be able to make plays for his team."