By Paul Dottino
EAST RUTHERFORD – Manning Bowl III.
Ok, so this likely will be the final time the Manning brothers get to play against each other in the NFL. Sure, Eli Manning would like to beat Peyton after going 0-2 while his older sibling was with the Indianapolis Colts. But there is so much more at stake for the Giants than a family competition – they were very sloppy in losing their opener in Dallas and would hate to start off the season with two losses.
So here are your three key matchups to watch:
1. Broncos QB Peyton Manning vs. Giants Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell. Manning destroyed the Baltimore Ravens in their season opener, becoming the sixth quarterback in NFL history to throw seven TD passes in a game. Did we mention he also threw for 462 yards? There is no sense trying to outsmart him, but there is a chance you can hurt yourself by attempting to outfox Manning. Does Fewell rely more heavily on his sub packages – three years ago with the Colts, Manning took advantage of the Giants selling out against the pass and called for a heavy dose of runs (worth more than 160 yards). Giants’ starting MLB Dan Connor (burner) was placed on IR, so Mark Herzlich is next up and he is suspect in pass coverage, making him an unlikely option. Fewell also could slide strongside linebacker Keith Rivers into the middle, although he hasn’t played there since joining the Giants.
2. Broncos WR Wes Welker vs. Giants Cornerback Terrell Thomas. Welker remains one of the most dangerous slot receivers in the league, regardless of which team he’s playing for or which quarterback is throwing the ball to him. The Giants are optimistic that starting CB Prince Amukamara will be able to play, which means they will be able to use Ross or Thomas in the slot – depending on how they want to divide up the sub package responsibilities. Remember, Denver TE Julius Thomas racked up 110 yards and 2 TDs against the Ravens, so the Giants might want to put a defensive back on him and the other on Welker.
3. Giants WR Rueben Randle vs. Broncos Cornerback Tony Carter. It’s likely that CB Champ Bailey (foot) will not play, which means Denver will have the smurf-like Carter (5-9) at RCB when they go to their nickel. WR Victor Cruz slides into the slot in the Giants’ three-wide set, allowing Randle (6-2) a 5-inch size advantage to say nothing of Randle’s long wingspan. Randle hauled in five passes for 101 yards against Dallas in Week 1.
PREDICTION: Broncos 31, Giants 23
PREDICTION RECORD VS. SPREAD: 0-1