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DMN: Two teams, different directions

Offensive, defensive lines leave Giants’ playoff hopes fading. Michael Lombardi

Print This November 27, 2009, 10:25 AM EST

QUOTE: “The thing about performance, even if it’s only an illusion, is that it is a celebration of the fact that we do contain within ourselves infinite possibilities.” -- Sydney Smith

After eating all day long when the last game of the day started, I was finally focused and able to concentrate on the best game of the day, the Giants and Broncos. These teams’ 2009 seasons had been following similar paths, starting with winning streaks early, then prolonged losing streaks. The winner on Thursday night was going to be alive for the playoffs, and the loser was going to be wondering what happened to the season.

The Broncos are alive and seemingly well, and the Giants look like they’ve been left for dead. A team I thought had such hope and promise, in large part due to the talent level in both its offensive and defensive lines, has not been dominating. Both of those areas have not been strong enough to overcome the Giants’ other weaknesses.

Last night, they looked slow on both sides of the ball. Specifically, they weren’t able to deal with the speed of the Broncos defense. Their offensive line was not able to keep Eli Manning clean in the pocket, forcing him to move and slide, and he was sacked three times and hit too many other times. Their offense was stalled all night. Meanwhile, the Broncos’ offense controlled the line of scrimmage and was able to set the tempo. The Giants played hard and with a sense of urgency, but they didn’t play well, which forces them to ask the fundamental question: Is their team good enough?

From my viewpoint, the Giants are too slow on defense, especially at linebacker. They lack explosive players and seem unable to shut down the extra yards. They’re not fast or quick to the ball, and the holes never seem to close down fast enough, nor are they able to explode on the ball carrier and force turnovers. This has been the G-Men’s problem all season, and each week it becomes more relevant. They just don’t seem to be able to defend the horizontal width of the field because of their lack of speed within the structure of their defense.

Then their offensive line is not nearly as dominating as it’s been in the past, which prevents them from being explosive on offense or able to consistently execute on long drives. Just because they have the same five players on the offensive line each week, it doesn’t mean they’re all playing to the same level as they have in the past. They just don’t look as effective as they once did. Whether it’s because they’re injured or have gotten old, they still are not as productive.

The Broncos, meanwhile, played like they did in the first six weeks. They ran the ball, they managed the game well and they created problems with their blitz scheme. They were the better team all night long, and if the Broncos can play at this level for the rest of the season, they’ll make the playoffs.

The playoffs for the Giants are another matter. They just seem to have too many areas in which they’re not playing well, and their liabilities on defense are being exploited every week.
Hope you have a great day shopping -- and enjoy the time off.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

To read more about Denver's big win, check out this article from Bleacher Report.

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