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Patriots-Giants matchup of the day: Saturday

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Recent posts by Kevin Fishbain

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Posted Nov. 04, 2011 @ 4:26 p.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

Here's a key matchup to watch in the Week Nine game between the Patriots and Giants:

Giants QB Eli Manning vs. Patriots secondary

This is the most crucial matchup for the Patriots if they want to beat the Giants on Sunday. If the secondary plays like it did against the Steelers (or how it has played all season), Manning will have a big day and New England will need to rely on an equally productive game from Tom Brady to win.

The Patriots enter Sunday with the league's worst passing defense, and that was on full display last week against Ben Roethlisberger. The timing isn't good for the secondary to face Manning, as he's putting up career numbers in completion percentage and passer rating. He threw for 349 yards and two scores in last week's win over the Dolphins.

Manning is expected to be without top receiver Hakeem Nicks, who is doubtful with a hamstring injury, but Mario Manningham and Victor Cruz are more than capable receivers for Manning.

CB Devin McCourty has struggled this season and is being targeted often. He will need to step up, along with Kyle Arrington, who is the team leader in interceptions. It was the nickel cornerback, though, that killed the Pats last week, as Antwaun Molden couldn't put together a good performance in his first game as the team's No. 3.

The Patriots need to start making plays, and while Manning has been more accurate this season, he has always been prone to a pick or two in his career. That's where safeties James Ihedigbo and Josh Barrett come in. If the Patriots' passing defense is to improve, one of Brandon Meriweather's replacements will need to step up.

If the corners and safeties and stay with Manning's receivers and avoid giving up big plays, especially on third down, the Patriots have more than enough on offense to get the win.


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