The Giants could take advantage of a weakened Bills run defense in Week 6

matt breida, new york giants
Jan 21, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Giants running back Matt Breida (31) runs for a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles in the third quarter during an NFC divisional round game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants have struggled to find their offensive rhythm throughout the first five weeks of the season. With a lackluster passing game and an overall record of 1-4, it’s clear the Giants need to make adjustments if they want to turn their season around. Fortunately, they might have an opportunity to do just that as they face off against the Buffalo Bills and their vulnerable run defense.

The Bills have struggled in run defense this season

One area where the Bills have struggled this season is in their run defense. With an average of 134 rushing yards allowed per game, Buffalo has struggled to contain opposing running backs effectively. Their 5.8 yards per attempt is the second-highest in the NFL, indicating potential gaps in their defensive front.

The Bills’ defense is banged up

Big Blue has to take advantage of Buffalo’s recent defensive losses, as linebacker Matt Milano and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones have both suffered potential season-ending injuries. This presents an opportunity for the Giants to expose the weakened defense and gain substantial ground in the running game.

Could Saquon Barkley return to the lineup?

The key to success for the Giants could lay in the return of Saquon Barkley. Before his injury that has sidelined him for the past three weeks, Barkley showcased his explosive potential with 155 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving.

In his last meeting with the Bills, Barkley had an impressive 135 scrimmage yards and a rushing touchdown. This history of success against Buffalo gives Big Blue hope that Barkley can make a significant impact once again.

However, there remains some uncertainty surrounding Barkley’s availability for the game on Sunday night. Listed as questionable on last week’s final injury report, Barkley has been a limited participant in practice throughout the week.

While head coach Brian Daboll did not commit to Barkley suiting up against the Bills, he did mention that Barkley “would be doing more than he did last week.” As game day approaches, it will be crucial for the Giants to monitor Barkley’s status closely and make a decision that prioritizes his long-term health while also maximizing their chances of success.

The Giants’ backup running backs need to step up

In the event that Barkley is unable to play, all eyes will be on Big Blue’s running back corps to step up and fill the void. With Barkley sidelined, the Giants’ ground game has struggled, combining for just 107 yards on 47 carries. However, there are some promising options within the roster that can make a difference.

In case of Barkley’s absence, Matt Breida will once again take over as the lead-back in New York. Breida will be facing off against his former team in Buffalo.

Breida, who played nine games and scored three touchdowns during his one season with the Bills, brings familiarity and motivation to his “revenge game.” While his numbers as a backup have been decent this season, accumulating 30 carries for 82 yards and one touchdown, this matchup against the Bills will be a prime opportunity for him to shine as the primary ball carrier.

It’s time for the rookie to shine

Keep an eye out for rookie Eric Gray, who showcased his potential after finally receiving his first offensive snaps against the Miami Dolphins in Week 5 after only being used as a punt returner in the weeks prior. Despite modest numbers on paper, with 12 attempts for 25 yards, Gray displayed impressive speed and explosiveness.

Gray even had a 21-yard rush that was negated due to a holding penalty on Ben Bredeson. With his fiery presence on the field, Gray could build off his momentum and provide an exciting complement to Breida, adding versatility to the Giants’ rushing attack.

Gary Brightwell has failed to stand out

While initially occupying the RB2 position behind Breida in Week 3 and Week 4, Gary Brightwell has failed to impress thus far. With just nine carries for 19 yards, his performances have been underwhelming. After receiving zero snaps in Week 5, it appears that Brightwell may lose touches to emerging rookie Gray.

However, Big Blue does like to utilize Brightwell in passing situations, so there is still potential for him to be utilized in Week 6, providing an opportunity for Brightwell to redeem himself.

Keeping the ball on the ground is the Giants’ key to victory

With the Giants’ passing game struggling and Buffalo’s formidable pass defense, it is crucial that the Giants exploit the Bills’ weakened run defense. The potential return of superstar Saquon Barkley adds excitement and anticipation, as his explosive playmaking abilities can significantly impact the outcome of the game.

Ultimately, whether or not Barkley suits up, Big Blue must prioritize their run game and revitalize their disappointing offense.

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