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Patriots vs. Giants: Questions with Ed Valentine of Big Blue View

In the lead up to this afternoon's game against the New York Giants, I asked Ed Valentine of Big Blue View several questions about the Giants club, and what to expect from them on both sides of the ball.  Here's what he came up with:

Statistically (QB rating), Eli Manning is having the best year of his NFL career. What does he mean to this Giants team and what has he been doing so well this year, contrary to the 25 interception season of a year ago?

Well, let's put it this way. The Giants suffered a slew of injuries, and they could be playing Sunday without their best receiver, running back, fullback, starting center and best pass rusher and without the guy that was their nickel corner a week ago. For me, none of that matters. No one will ever give Eli credit for how good he is because he will never be his brother. As long as No. 10 is upright, though, the Giants have a chance.

The Giants typically have one of the NFL's strongest ground attacks, but in 2011 are ranked just 30th in the league in total yards on the ground. Has this been due to a lack of commitment to the ground attack, or is there some other underlying reason?

It's not commitment -- it's crappy blocking. The Giants have been using a rookie fullback, who may not play Sunday. They have a new tight end in Jake Ballard who has been a surprisingly good receiver and a surprisingly poor run blocker. They have a new center, new left left tackle and have moved David Diehl from left tackle to left guard. It's not the same group.

More questions after the jump!

What has the Giants defensive play been like this year? The Giants have racked up 26 sacks and seem to have one of the better passing defenses yet are struggling to defend the run. What do you think the Giants will do in terms of packages (sub vs. base), coverages (zone vs. man) and scheming (blitzing?) to stop the Patriots passing attack?

The Giants defense has been "frustrating." Early in the year they gave up some big pass plays. They have solved that lately, but every week they seem to break down 2-3 times against the run and give up huge plays. Package-wise, the Giants have played a lot of 4-2-5, and I expect to see a great deal of that Sunday since the Patriots are pass-heavy. As for the blitz, defensive coordinator Perry Fewell makes me crazy. He relies on the four linemen, sometimes only three, and I don't think he sends extra people often enough.

If you had to name one offensive and one defensive x-factor for the Giants on Sunday, who would those players be and why?

The X Factor really has to be who plays and who doesn't. Can Ahmad Bradshaw play? Jason Pierre-Paul? Can Ramses Barden come off the PUP list and help replace Hakeem Nicks at receiver? Can first-round pick Prince Amukamara, who has not played yet after breaking his foot in preseason, be effective if he is active. The X Factor for the Giants is really who they are able to get onto the field, and right now I don't know.

Check back shortly before the game for prediction's from Valentine as well as myself!