The New York Giants are preparing to face the New York Jets in the highly-anticipated “Battle for New York” on Sunday. Both teams find themselves in “must-win” situations, and with both offenses struggling, defense seems to be the key to victory for both teams.
The Giants’ defense is coming off its best game of the season
Coming off an outstanding performance against the Washington Commanders, where they sacked quarterback Sam Howell six times and had 12 quarterback hits, Big Blue’s defense is riding high.
The Giants’ defense has only allowed 21 points in the past two weeks, and their ability to take advantage of weak offensive lines and apply pressure to opposing quarterbacks has been a key factor in recent weeks.
Exposing a banged-up Jets offensive line
Giants’ defensive coordinator Wink Martindale is expected to unleash his aggressive approach against Jets’ QB Zach Wilson, aiming to replicate the success they had against Howell.
Despite dealing with some challenges on offense, most notably the loss of QB Aaron Rodgers, Wilson and the Jets are averaging 18.8 points per game and 4.9 yards per play. Like Big Blue, the Jets’ offensive line has been plagued by injuries, and they are dealing with the loss of their best offensive lineman, Alijah Vera-Tucker.
Despite the injuries to the offensive line, they have managed to provide just enough protection for Wilson to operate. However, Gang Green currently has the third-lowest pass-blocking efficiency rating (77.5), is fifth in sacks allowed (14), sixth in pressures (82), and they are currently allowing 3.3 sacks per game. This vulnerability provides an opening for the Giants’ formidable pass rush.
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Key defenders will play a crucial role in Week 8
The Jets’ game plan usually revolves around their defense making plays, and Wilson simply playing clean, mistake-free football. Wilson will face a crucial test against the Giants’ fierce pass rush. He is known to struggle under pressure, and Big Blue’s defense is one of the best at creating pressure. With the Giants’ defense likely to replicate their success against Washington, Wilson’s ability to handle pressure and make accurate decisions will be key for the Jets’ success.
Standing in Wilson’s way, however, will be two crucial playmakers on the Giants’ defensive line – Dexter Lawrence II and Kayvon Thibodeaux.
Dexter Lawrence is continuing to play at an elite level
Lawrence entered Week 7 without registering any sacks, but that quickly changed against the Commanders, where he accumulated two sacks and four quarterback hits.
Lawrence currently has tallied up an impressive team-high 29 total pressures on the season, and he faces an opportunity to shine once again against a weakened Jets’ offensive line and an inexperienced Zach Wilson.
Kayvon Thibodeaux is ready to prove the media wrong
Despite facing some criticism from the media, Thibodeaux has been making his presence felt. Martindale has said that Thibodeaux makes everything roll for the defense, and it won’t be surprising to see Thibodeaux lead the charge on defense on Sunday.
Thibodeaux has already topped his sack number from his rookie year (four) with 5.5 sacks already this season, putting him on pace for 14. Thibodeaux’s ability to consistently pressure quarterbacks is a valuable asset for Big Blue. Currently, with 14 total pressures, he is showing no signs of slowing down and is on pace for 51 pressures this season.
A favorable matchup could lead to a big game from Thibodeaux
Thibodeaux will be lined up against Jets’ left tackle Mekhi Becton who has already racked up seven penalties and has allowed four sacks through six games this season. This matchup seems to lean in Thibodeaux’s favor, so Becton will face a challenge in trying to contain him.
A crucial game for the Giants’ defense
With the Giants’ struggling to score on offense, slowing down the Jets and applying relentless pressure on Wilson and forcing him into making mistakes will be a top priority. Wilson’s vulnerability under pressure presents an opportunity for the Giants to disrupt Gang Green’s offensive rhythm.