The New York Giants (6-3) and the Cincinnati Bengals (3-5) square off Sunday with both teams looking to right the ship.
Coming off of a fourth-quarter collapse to Pittsburgh, the Giants face yet another AFC North foe as they attempt to put another check-mark in the win column before their bye week.
The Bengals have lost four consecutive contests, including last week’s 31-23 loss to Peyton Manning’s Broncos, and are falling out of the AFC playoff picture.
The Giants and Bengals last faced off in 2008, when John Carney kicked a game-winning 22-yard field goal in overtime to give Big Blue a 26-23 win.
These were two different-looking squads back then. Eli Manning threw for 289 yards and a touchdown to Kevin Boss, while Derrick Ward led the Giants with 80 yards on the ground. Well-dressed Amani Toomer led the G-Men with 64 receiving yards.
The Bengals were led by Carson Palmer, who passed for 286 yards and found T.J. Houshmandzadeh 12 times, including a touchdown with under 5 minutes left in the game.
The Giants moved to 3-0 on the season with the win, and Cincy fell to 0-3. In the all-time series, the Bengals lead 5-3, and the home game has won every match-up.
Manning will face a familiar foe in the form of former Cowboys cornerback Terrence Newman, who now rocks the orange-and-black stripes for Cincinnati.
Last week, Newman picked off Peyton twice. In 11 career games against Eli, Newman has four interceptions.
Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green suggested New York’s defense had holes earlier this week.
Green, who former Cowboys great Michael Irvin said has the opportunity to be the “best in the game,” was the only player in NFL history to top more than 100 receptions, 1,500 yards and 10 receiving touchdowns in his first 20 games.
How will the Giants’ secondary, who allowed Mike Wallace to gash them for a game-altering touchdown, react?
Tale of the Tape
The Bengals have averaged 24 points per game this year, and have allowed 27. Their offense, ranked 17th in the NFL, averages 355 yards per game, with the aerial attack ranked 11th.
Defensively, the No. 20 defense in the NFL is truly mediocre, allowing 117 yards per game on the ground and 240 through the air.
Cinci has scored on 82 percent of its red-zone possessions, and on the defensive end have allowed opponents to score on 83 percent of their red-zone trips.
The Giants, in comparison, sport the league’s No. 6 scoring offense and have surrendered 21 points per game (10th).
The Giants own a +14 potential, as well as the No. 11 offense and No. 25 defense. While their offense has scored 95 percent of the time in the red zone, their defense has allowed opponents to score on 83 percent of their trips.
Obviously, the Giants offense is not the problem, though it did stall in the fourth quarter against Pittsburgh. It’s the defense, which is allowing more than 380 yards per game, that will be the deciding factor going forward.
Follow Sam on Twitter @SamSpiegs