The Patriots face the Giants on Sunday with a lot on the line. The Patriots are trying to keep pace with the Cincinnati Bengals for the AFC's top seed while the Giants are trying to separate themselves from the Eagles in the NFC East. Both teams suffered critical injuries with the Patriots losing their Poor Man's version of Barry Sanders in Dion Lewis and the Giants losing their best interior defensive lineman in Jonathan Hankins. Both teams are banged up, with the Patriots injuries on offense and the Giants injuries on defense. On the other side of the ball, the Patriots have lost their best overall defender, Jamie Collins, to what is probably just a flu bug. With that in mind, the Patriots defensive front needs to step up and make the game easier for Collins' replacement for this game.
RB LeGarrette Blount: With Dion Lewis out, that means the running game is going to need more production to offset Lewis' abilities in the passing game. The Giants are the right team for the Patriots to run against with injuries plaguing their Front 7. The Giants have been poor at defending runs up the middle, which is the one area the Patriots are healthy at on the OL. Even though subbing in Blount is basically telegraphing "Run" to the defense, the key to a good offense is deception. Perceived predictability can be a weapon against the opposing defenses, which in this case means the Giants are going to play the run if Brady and the offensive line do a good job of selling it. With the Giants linebackers playing up, that leaves a void for Rob Gronkowski to slide into and haunt the Giants secondary, which is awful at defending TEs.
DT Dominique Easley: With the Patriots suffering a bit at linebacker, the defensive line needs to pick up the slack this week. The Giants do have a tough interior offensive line, which should make for a good test for Easley. Now that he's healthy, Easley is one of the league's up and coming defensive lineman with his ability to impact the game in so many ways. In passing situations, the Giants are likely doubling Chandler Jones on the outside, which should give Easley 1-on-1 matchups against Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, or Geoff Schwartz. If Easley is creating negative plays for the defense, that puts the Giants behind the chains and forces the Giants to play right into the Patriots' hands.