There once was a time when the Giants could shrug off the non-conference Buffalo Bills as just another opponent to get past on the way to the playoffs.
No more. The Bills are 4-1 now, and averaging 32 points per game. And the Giants need to beat them in the Meadowlands on Sunday to avoid an official losing streak and a fall to 3-3.
Considering how the Giants have played the last three weeks, it won’t be easy. Here are three things they need to do.
Wide receiver Victor Cruz had two turnovers last week, the last of which was an interception charged to Eli Manning for his fifth pick of the season. That can’t happen against an opportunistic defense that already has racked up 12 interceptions and has a plus-11 turnover ratio. If the Giants give up the ball, the Bills will make them pay.
Stop the run
That hasn’t happened yet for a team that prides itself on its up-front defense. They’re 21st against the run, giving up an average of 122.2 rushing yards per game. That’s bad news against a running back such as the Bills’ Fred Jackson, who comes off his season’s third 100-yard game. He’s already got 480 yards (5.3-yard average) and five touchdowns, and could make a lot of hay if a front that could again play without Justin Tuck (neck/groin) doesn’t get it together quickly.
Fend off the comeback
The Giants would help themselves out with a fast start. But most importantly, they’ll need to learn how to keep a lead against a team has already posted wins after falling behind Oakland 21-3 and New England 21-0. They scored 35 points in a furious second half to beat the Raiders, and Ryan Fitzpatrick has begun to make a name for himself as 2011’s Captain Comeback. Apparently, no lead is safe against the Bills.