The Giants may be a 2-2 team. They may have one of the worst defenses in the NFL based on total yards. And they may be battling through a series of closely played, hard-fought battles in the early going. But the New York Giants are certainly no pushover coming to Gillette Stadium this Sunday afternoon to take on the 3-2 Patriots.
Across the board at pretty much every skill position the Giants have potentially explosive talent that can make life very hard on opposing defenses.
"Watching them on tape, this is really an impressive football team," Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick said. "They've got a lot of great players. Offensively it is hard to pick a place to start but lets go with [Amani] Toomer. He has already set all of the records in receiving or is going to break them all this year. The guy is an outstanding player. Tiki Barber, I don't know what more you could say about him. The guy has done everything he can do as a back in that organization, return kicks, run the ball, caught the ball, is tough, durable and dependable, a great big playmaker. [Jeremy] Shockey, we all know what he has done already in his short time in the league. I am sure that he is heading to some of the same levels that Toomer and Barber are already at. Kerry Collins can make every throw. Ike Hilliard, [Jim] Finn has given them solid play at fullback. It is just a real good football team. [Luke] Petitgout I think is one of the better left tackles in the league. They are really a solid offensive football team that is very explosive."
And while the Giants have struggled on the defensive side of the ball, they still have a number of talented players who can make life tough on an offense.
"Defensively, it all starts up front with [Keith] Hamilton and [Cornelius] Griffin inside and [Michael] Strahan and [Kenny] Holmes outside," Belichick said. "The linebackers are very active. Dhani Jones, [Brandon] Short and [Mike] Barrow are all very athletic and run well. They have a couple of good young corners there with [Will] Peterson and [Will] Allen. Shaun Williams is a big hitter at safety. Omar [Stoutmire] is a solid guy in there."
The Giants may have struggled to date in defending opponents' passing attacks, last in the league at 273.5 yards per game, but that can be overcome by the strength they have up front.
"They are pretty good and pretty sound," Belichick said. "You could maybe do whatever you want if you could get past the guys upfront, it is hard. Those guys make a lot of plays. They are very disruptive. Strahan just does everything well. He is very instinctive, powerful guy in the running game, and a good pass rusher. Holmes on the other side is a good book end for them. They have a couple of young kids in there with [William] Joseph and [Osi] Umenyiora who have given a little lift in there. Along with [Lance] Legree they have a little rotation system going in there. But those two inside guys, Griffin and Hamilton, are a load. Trying to get past them and trying to get the ball off and trying to find time to do some of the things that you think, 'Well, yeah we could do this or we could do that,' but a lot of times the quarterback is on his back."
So in the end don't expect the Patriots to walk over the Giants, despite coming off a very impressive win last week over the Tennessee Titans. The only way for New England to move ahead to 4-2 will be through a solid overall defensive effort to try and control the Giants many weapons and the home team will likely have to move the ball through the air against a somewhat suspect New York pass defense.
"I think they are a real good football team," Belichick said. "They are well coached and they are tough. They are very explosive. I think there are so many plays where they just go out there and dominate the front defensively or offensively they have guys making 20, 30, 40-yard plays. They led the league last year in big plays, plays over 20 yards and I can see why. They have a lot of guys that can make them and they make a lot of them. They have a good quarterback. They are a very, very explosive football team coming in here Sunday. I have a lot of respect for them."
"They will have their guns loaded and I am sure they will emptying their barrels on us."
Game numbers and notes
The only players who did not practice on Friday were Ted Washington, Ted Johnson, Adrian Klemm, Mike Vrabel and Antowain Smith. … The Patriots are 7-2 in the last nine games against NFC opposition and have won four of the last five such matchups including a 31-10 victory over the Eagles earlier this season. … New England is 7-3 at home since Gillette Stadium opened last season. … Sunday's meeting will be the seventh game between the two teams with the all-time series tied at 3-3. New England won the last meeting 16-14 on September 26, 1999. … The Giants are 2-1 in games played in Foxborough. … The six meetings with the Giants are the fewest for the Patriots against any non-expansion opponent. The only teams the Patriots have played less frequently than the Giants are the Buccaneers (5), the Jaguars (4), the Panthers (2), the Ravens (2) and the Texans (0). … Offensively the Giants come into the game ranked seventh in the NFL with 348.5 yards a game while the Patriots rank 18th at 316.6. New York averages 22.3 points a game to New England's 21.8. … Defensively the Giants rank 29th in the NFL in total defense at 374.8 yards per game and the Patriots rank 18th at 322.8. New York gives up 23.0 points a game to New England's 21.4. … Tom Brady connected on passes of more than 10 yards to six different receivers last week in the win over Tennessee, including a 58-yard touchdown pass to Troy Brown. … With last week's win over the Titans and Steve McNair (391 yards) the Patriots are now 15-2 since 1996 when an opposing quarterback throws for more than 300 yards. … Ty Law's 65-yard interception return for a touchdown was the sixth of his career and the longest interception return of his career. The pick was also the 30th of his career and moved him into sole possession of second place on the Patriots all-time list. … Brady is third in the NFL in touchdown passes since the start of the 2002 season with 34, trailing just Peyton Manning (38) and Brett Favre (36). … Rodney Harrison, elected as an additional defensive captain by his teammates earlier this week, is tied for the team lead with 36 tackles and a team-high 27 solo tackles. … Based on the current pace the Patriots would rush for 1,859 yards this season. That total would be the most productive ground effort for the team since the 1995 season. …The Patriots have won 14 consecutive games when leading at halftime and 19 consecutive when leading after three quarters. … The Patriots have held opponents to under 30-percent on third down conversions on three occasions this year, matching the three times they did it all of last season. The team has a 9-1 record in games when they hold opponents to under 30-percent on third downs. … Troy Brown has caught at least one pass in 62 consecutive games, including playoff action. … As a rookie in Carolina in 1995 Kerry Collins had his first 300-yard game against the Patriots. … The Patriots are just one of five teams that All-Pro defensive end Michael Strahan has never had a sack against. … Tiki Barber leads the Giants with 384 yards rushing and one touchdown on 87 carries. … Ike Hilliard leads the team in receptions with 25, while Amani Toomer leads with 343 receiving yards. … Collins has completed 90 of 159 passes for 1,019 yards and six touchdowns with just five interceptions this season. … Mike Barrow leads the defense with 51 total tackles.