RB Ahmad Bradshas Is the Player to Watch
The New England Patriots are 15-0. In an unprecedented move, the NFL is going to allow a regular-season game to be simulcast on more than one network. For the first time ever, it will be on more than two networks -- CBS, NBC and the NFL Network. And, in Boston, locals will also be able to see the game on a fourth network -- ABC affiliate Channel 5. ETVal from Big Blue View joins us this week to preview the game against the 10-5 New York Giants.
tommasse: After the end to last year, Tiki Barber retiring and making comments, and the 0-2 start this year, there was a lot of talk about Tom Coughlin's job security. What's the word in the mainstream, and what do you say?
ETVal: I think it's pretty much a lock at this point that Coughlin will get an extension. He's not a perfect coach, and there is lots of debate around New York over whether the lack of progress by Eli Manning is partially Coughlin's fault. However, Coughlin is having his best season as Giants' coach. He has opened up to the players for the first time and they have responded. This is an imperfect team and TC is an imperfect coach. They play hard, however, which is a reflection on the coach. And you can't really argue with three straight playoff appearances. He deserves to stick around.
tommasse: I know it's tough when you see a team week in and week out who "outsiders" might not know, but what Giants players besides the stars should Patriots fans be watching for Saturday?
For more from ETVal , click "Read More" and to read my responses to ETVal's questions, visit Big Blue View.
ETVal: Ahmad Bradshaw. This kid could be a star. He had his coming out party last week against Buffalo (17 carries, 151 yards, 88-yard touchdown run). Giants fans have been clamoring for him all year, and waiting for his breakout game. He's a good kick returner, too, and you will see a heavy dose of him Saturday.
tommasse: The early forecast says mild temperatures (relative for a Northeast winter), no precipitation and a 12-mph wind. How do you see the weather affecting both teams?
ETVal: Well, nothing can be worse than what the Giants played through the past two weeks. In Buffalo it was miserably cold, it rained, then sleeted, then snowed and there were 40-50 mph winds. Against Washington it was cold and also windy. So, nasty weather won't be new to the Giants. At least they figured out last week that running works better than passing when the ball is blowing all over the place and is virtually impossible to catch. New England has the weapons to do it all, so no matter what the conditions they should be fine.
tommasse: How big of an impact is the loss of Jeremy Shockey? How has the offense changed, and how will it affect the game plan for the Patriots?
ETVal: Shockey's loss is huge. Honestly, he was not having a great year before he got hurt. It sometimes seems like Coughlin and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride don't understand how much of a weapon he can be. That said, he still controls the middle of the field and is one of the best blocking tight ends in the league. The Giants are replacing him with two rookies, Kevin Boss as the pass catcher and Michael Matthews as the blocker. Boss has lots of potential, but it remains to be seen if the Giants can rely on him to make the plays Shockey made.
tommasse: What exactly is the game plan? With no bye before Wild Card Weekend, some injuries and nothing to gain Saturday, will Coughlin rest players, or is it important to try to spoil New England's season or make a statement?
ETVal: That's the money question. Honestly, I expect Coughlin to try to win the game -- though I'd prefer if he played it like a glorified exhibition game. You might not see too much of Plaxico Burress (chronic ankle injury) or Brandon Jacobs (ankle sprain), but you'll see everybody else. My guess is -- and there has been no official announcement by Coughlin that I have seen -- that the main guys will play unless the Patriots get ahead by a couple of scores.
Thanks to ETVal for providing some insight, and please check out more of his views at Big Blue View.