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NFL Preview - N.Y. Giants (3-0) at Kansas City (0-3)
By Michael Rushton, Contributing NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - The New York Giants are coming off their best defensive road showing in nearly 26 years. That isn't the best of news for the winless Kansas City Chiefs, who are looking to avoid going 0-4 for the first time in 29 years.
Undefeated New York will try to keep the Todd Haley/Matt Cassel era in Kansas City winless for another week when the teams clash this Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Giants are coming off a dominating 24-0 victory at Tampa Bay last weekend that saw them hold the Buccaneers to just 86 total yards and five first downs. It was New York's first road shutout since a 23-0 victory in Philadelphia on November 20, 1983.
The victory was a change of pace for the G-Men, who had won their first two games over Washington (23-17) and Dallas (33-31) by a combined eight points. Still, behind 226 team rushing yards and a pair of touchdown throws by Eli Manning, the Giants improved to 3-0 for the second straight season after beginning last year with four straight wins.
New York has also won the first two tests of a three-game road trip that concludes with the club's first visit to Kansas City since 2001.
The Chiefs are on their third head coach since that 2001 meeting, with Haley taking over this year for Herm Edwards after his three-year tenure with the team.
Haley and Kansas City's new quarterback, Cassel, have yet to get that first win and play their second home game of the season this Sunday. After a 13-10 loss to Oakland on September 20 at Arrowhead Stadium, the Chiefs were blown out, 34-14, at Philadelphia this past weekend.
Cassel threw for just 90 yards in the game with an on-paper-efficient 14- for-18 passing and two touchdown throws, though the second one came with under two minutes left in the game.
Kansas City, which went just 2-14 a season ago, has lost 14 of its last 15 games and 26 of its past 28 contests dating back to 2007. Despite those recent struggles, the Chiefs haven't begun a season 0-4 since an 8-8 campaign in 1980.
Last week's loss to the Eagles was the first of four straight games for the Chiefs against NFC East residents. They host the Cowboys next weekend before visiting the Redskins.
The Giants have a 9-2 advantage in their all-time series with the Chiefs, and have won the last three meetings between the teams. New York was a 27-17 home winner when the clubs last matched up, in 2005, and was a 13-3 victor when the clubs last faced off at Arrowhead Stadium, in 2001. Kansas City's last win in the series was a 20-17 overtime affair at Arrowhead in 1995.
Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is 4-1 versus the Chiefs all-time, including 3-1 during his tenure in Jacksonville (1995-2002). Haley will be meeting both Coughlin and New York for the first time as a head coach.
WHEN THE GIANTS HAVE THE BALL
New York's defensive dominance last weekend allowed the Giants to control the ball for 43 minutes and 38 seconds, a record for a Coughlin-coached New York club. Manning (747 passing yards, 5 TD, 1 INT) needed to attempt just 24 passes, completing 14 of them, as New York ran the ball 49 times. Brandon Jacobs (196 rushing yards) led the way with 26 carries, notching 92 yards and his first touchdown of the season, while Ahmad Bradshaw (201 rushing yards) had a team-high 104 yards on 14 carries. Even little-used back Gartrell Johnson got in on the act, carrying the ball six times for 23 yards. Bradshaw, though, aggravated an ankle injury in the contest and was wearing a boot at practice on Wednesday. He is expected to play this weekend. Wide receivers Hakeem Nicks (foot) and Domenik Hixon (knee) both returned to practice on a limited basis this week after missing the Tampa Bay game. Nicks has sat out the last two contests. Both Steve Smith (23 receptions, 2 TD) and Mario Manningham (17 receptions, 2 TD) have stepped up for the depleted wide receiving group over the last two weeks, combining for 31 catches, 402 yards and four touchdowns in that span. Smith had seven catches for 63 yards with a score versus Tampa Bay. Manning has been sacked just once this year, with that takedown coming back on Week 1.
Facing an offense that was without quarterback Donovan McNabb and running back Brian Westbrook, the Chiefs still allowed the Eagles to post 420 total yards, though they did limit Michael Vick to just seven yards on one carry out of the Wildcat formation in his anticipated debut. Still, Philadelphia backup signal- caller Kevin Kolb threw for 327 yards and wide receiver DeSean Jackson made six catches for 149 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown catch-and-run. That led to Kansas City making two additions to its roster on Wednesday, as it signed linebacker David Herron and corner Mike Richardson. Linebacker Demorrio Williams (19 tackles) led the club with eight tackles last week, while corner Brandon Flowers (9 tackles) made seven stops. Though they were able to recover a fumble on a botched snap, the Chiefs did not record a single sack or pick off a pass. Kansas City has just three sacks on the season, tied for the second-lowest total in the NFL, and are also tied for last with just one interception, with that pick coming from linebacker Derrick Johnson back in Week 1. Johnson also has a sack for the Chiefs, but the 2005 first-round pick missed last week's game due to a groin injury. He hopes to return for this contest, though.
WHEN THE CHIEFS HAVE THE BALL
Cassel has completed 66.7 percent of his passes (38-for-57) through two games, but has totaled just 331 yards and three touchdowns while getting intercepted twice. He was without top target Dwayne Bowe (9 receptions, 2 TD) versus the Eagles due to a hamstring injury that has the wideout questionable for this weekend's game. Bowe was unable to practice early in the week and will likely be a game-time decision. Wide receiver Mark Bradley (8 receptions, 1 TD) and tight end Sean Ryan (6 receptions, 1 TD) each made a team-high four catches versus the Eagles, with Bradley and fellow wide receiver Bobby Wade (8 receptions, 1 TD) hauling in scoring catches. Kansas City is averaging just over 100 yards per game on the ground, but has yet to score a rushing touchdown in 2009. Larry Johnson (136 rushing yards) struggled to just 38 yards on 19 carries against the Eagles, while Jamaal Charles totaled a much- more efficient 36 yards on six attempts. Cassel was sacked three times versus the Eagles, bringing his season total to five. Kansas City's offensive line also allowed backup quarterback Brodie Croyle to get taken down three times in his Week 1 start.
Coming off their first overall shutout since 2005, the Giants stand a good chance of putting forth another big effort this Sunday. Their performance versus the Buccaneers now has the club ranked first in the NFL against the pass (124.0 ypg), second in total defense (245.3 ypg) and fourth in points allowed (16.0 ppg). In allowing its lowest yardage total since the Giants limited the Eagles to 79 yards in that 1983 shutout, the team needed to make only 23 total tackles versus the Bucs. Cornerback Corey Webster (9 tackles, 1 INT) led the club with four tackles, while fellow corner Terrell Thomas (11 tackles) made three stops and posted his first interception of the season. New York's defense did fail to post a sack in its limited time on the field, leaving its season total at three. Thomas' pick was the fifth for the G-Men this year, though. Defensive end Justin Tuck (6 tackles, 1.5 sacks) was able to play only in a limited basis versus Tampa Bay because of a shoulder issue, but hopes to increase his snaps this Sunday. Corners Aaron Ross and Kevin Dockery have yet to appear in a game this year because of hamstring ailments, but both practiced on a limited basis this week.
Fantasy players usually get pretty excited when their players draw the Chiefs, meaning Jacobs and Bradshaw owners are smiling big. Bradshaw's ankle raises some concerns, but he should still get enough carries to warrant a start -- just hope he stays healthy. Manning is also worth consideration due to the matchup and is a good bye-week replacement candidate. Smith and Manningham should continue to see targets, even with Hixon and Nicks improving health- wise. The Giants defense is an outstanding play this weekend.
It looks as if Bowe owners will need to find a replacement again this weekend, as he is the dreaded game-time decision. He probably wouldn't be worth a start at less than full strength anyway, though Cassel has the potential to rack up some points since the Chiefs will probably have to throw a lot. Larry Johnson has been a bust thus far and is worth a flex start at best. Owners should look to grab Charles if he is still available for the long term. The Chiefs defense is a no-no.
Few teams have drawn as tough an assignment over the first four weeks than the Chiefs, who blew their best shot at a win over their first five games when they failed to put away Oakland in Week 2. As hungry as the team is to give its new head coach a win, that doesn't figure to happen versus a Giants club that has already smacked down one flaccid offense this year. New York should dominate Kansas City up and down the field on Sunday on the way to a 4-0 start.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Giants 31, Chiefs 9
10/03 20:57:36 ET
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