New York Giants (5-2) at Miami Dolphins (0-7)
When you look at this game from this perspective, it's hard to see how the Dolphins will slow down this 9th ranked offense that the Giants boast. They can run and they can throw. They have a big time receiver and a big time tight end. Their running backs are very good. But here's where their is hope: the Giants are turning it over nearly 2 times per game over their last 5 games. The oppostion just hasn't been able to take advantage of these mistakes, which is why the Giants are unbeaten in their last 5.
When you watch the highlight shows and hear people talk about the Giants offense, you always hear about Eli Manning, Plaxico Burress, and Jeremy Shockey. And for good reason, don't get me wrong. But this offense is a balanced offense and is more run-oriented than pass-oriented. Over their last 5 games, they have run the ball 49.8% (162 runs, 163 passes) of the time. Now that's a balanced offense.
The reason I say the Giants use a run-oriented offense is because a lot of it is based off of an effective running attack. And their running attack has certainly been effective, averaging just over 130 yards per game on the ground. Now the Dolphins do dodge a bullet, as their leading rusher and change of pace back, Derrick Ward, is unlikely to play. However, they still have to deal with starter Brandon Jacobs. Jacobs is a monster, at 6'4, 260, and possesses uncharacteristic speed for a man that size. Since coming back from injury, Jacobs has 293 yards in 3 games, averaging 5.7 yards per carry. He will certainly be a big factor on Sunday. And when he gets tired and needs a blow, Reuben Droughns will replace him. Droughns, himself, has been averaging 4.3 yards per carry. So the pressure will be on the Dolphins front 7, sans Zach Thomas, to make plays and stop the run, something we all know is a huge struggle for this unit.
As if that wasn't enough to worry about, the Dolphins will also have to worry about New York's passing game. Eli Manning has been playing the best football of his young career this year, and that's thanks, in large part, to the big play capability of Plaxico Burress. Now, Burress hasn't practiced all week, but that's nothing new for him, as I don't think he's practiced at all this year. But that held him back one bit. Burress has 550 yards receiving and 8 touchdowns so far this year. He's big, physical, and can make all the tough catches. It'll be interesting, following the man-handling of the Miami secondary by Randy Moss on those 2 long passes, to see how the Dolphins attempt to cover Burress.
And don't forget about Jeremy Shockey. His presence really puts pressure on the linebackers and safeties. The Giants, once they get the ground game going, will likely look to Shockey in the passing game, often through play-action passes, to make big plays down the field. So it'll be up to Channing Crowder, Joey Porter, and Derrick Pope to recognize the play-action and always be alert to where Shockey is on the field. With inexperienced safeties Cameron Worrell and Jason Allen starting for Miami, the combination of Shockey and Burress could really be a huge issue on Sunday. Let's hope the Dolphins have seen something on tape that others haven't and can somehow slow down this offense.
So I hand the floor off to you all. How should the Dolphins go about defending the Giants' offense?