The New England Patriots are about to face their most challenging offensive opponent of the year: themselves.
The New York Giants offer an offense that isn't the same caliber of the Patriots, but they present a wide array of talent that will certainly test the New England defense.
"[Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo] is doing a great job of making sure the ball comes out fast and they have a lot of different options for the quarterback and those decisions are quick for him," New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said during a Tuesday press conference. "[Giants quarterback Eli Manning is] able to see the defense, read the defense and know where to go with the ball fairly quickly, which has resulted in them not taking a lot of sacks, not turning the ball over and just being able to control the game from that standpoint."
The Giants have an offense with two quality receivers in Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle. They have a third receiver that produces when called upon in Dwayne Harris (Victor Cruz is injured and unlikely to play).
They have a reliable tight end in Larry Donnell who is able to move the chains, but if Donnell is unable to play then Will Tye will fill in.
"They move the tight end a lot. They change formations," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. "They run out of the gun. They run under center. They do run a lot of the quick passing game that we're familiar with in that type of offense, but they also get the ball down the field and have a lot of vertical routes and back shoulder type routes to their perimeter receivers."
"They have a lot of guys that operate very well in space and can make defenders miss in those one-on-one opportunities," Patricia noted.
Quick passing to pick up yards after the catch, with the occasional deep throw and backshoulder pass? It sounds like an offense that's perfect for Tom Brady.
And then there's the duo at running back in Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen. One player runs the ball, one player is a glorified receiver. Yeah, that sounds familiar.
"They have a lot of different running backs," Patricia said. "Guys that all carry the ball, guys that are all a little bit different, so I think this is a team that will challenge us in the run game and they will continue to try to run it and keep the offense balanced."
Whether it's the passing philosophy or the use of specialized backs, the similarities between the two offenses are evident.
The Patriots can match up well against this Giants offense if every defensive player is healthy and available. The Giants prefer to play with 11 personnel, which means that the Patriots will have to match up Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, and Justin Coleman on each receiver (I would put them on Beckham, Harris, and Randle, respectively).
New England's defense benefits from practicing against Tom Brady and the rest of the offense on a daily basis. Manning and the Giants are going to try and move the ball quickly. The defense just has to be faster.