The Cincinnati Bengals will make their second trip of the season to East Rutherford, N.J., on Monday to face a New York Giants team that finds itself in the thick of the NFC playoff race despite being among the league’s worst teams at running the ball, and protecting it.
New York ranks tied for 29th in turnover differential (minus-7) and 30th in lost fumbles (eight), and the Giants are 32nd in rush offense with an average of 68.3 yards per game. Adding to the struggles in the run game will be the fact that they will be without their best offensive lineman in Justin Pugh, who suffered a knee injury in Sunday’s win against Philadelphia.
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Despite all of those issues, the Giants have put together a three-game winning streak to get to 5-3, which has them currently sitting as the No. 5 seed in the NFC under first-year head coach Ben McAdoo.
Quarterback Eli Manning is completing 64.4 percent of his passes, which would be a new career high for the 13-year veteran if he is able to maintain it. He’s thrown for 2,241 yards with 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
In three career games against the Bengals, Manning is 1-2 with one touchdown and three interceptions. He’s completed 58.7 percent of his passes for an average of 235 yards while being sacked six times.
Five of Manning’s 12 touchdowns this year have gone to Odell Beckham in the last four games, including four scores in the last three contests. Beckham has 44 receptions and ranks seventh in the league with 646 receiving yards.
Rookie Sterling Shepard has 34 receptions for 384 yards and three touchdowns, and veteran Victor Cruz has returned to form after an injury-shortened 2015 to catch 25 passes for 377 yards and a score.
But it’s been pass or bust for the Giants, who haven’t gained more than 78 yards on the ground in their last five games. They tried find a spark by getting rookie Paul Perkins more involved last week against Philadelphia, but the fifth-round pick gained just 32 yards on 11 carries.
>>>> VIDEO: Adam Jones talks about his ongoing friendship with Giants CB Leon Hall
Defensively, the Giants have been strong against the run, ranking ninth (93.9), but have struggled against the pass, ranking 25th (277.4).
The last three quarterbacks New York has faced — Philadelphia rookie Carson Wentz, St. Louis’ Case Keenum and Baltimore’s Joe Flacco — have averaged 331 passing yards per game, and yet the Giants have won all three games.
Their five wins this year have been by an average of four points.
Giants CB Leon Hall played for the Bengals from 2007-15 … Giants QB Josh Johnson played for the Bengals in 2013 and was also with Cincinnati in the ’15 preseason … Giants T Marshall Newhouse played for the Bengals in 2014 … Giants DT Jonathan Hankins and CB Eli Apple played at Ohio State … Giants offensive line coach Mike Solari was the offensive line coach for the University of Cincinnati from 1981-82 … Giants RB George Winn (practice squad) played for the University of Cincinnati … Giants secondary/cornerbacks coach Tim Walton played DB at Ohio State … Bengals CB Chykie Brown played for the Giants in 2014 and was with them in the ’15 preseason … Bengals secondary coach Kevin Coyle is from Staten Island, N.Y. … Bengals LB Vincent Rey is from Far Rockaway, N.Y. … Bengals DE Wallace Gilberry entered the NFL with the Giants as a college free agent in 2008, but did not play for New York in the regular season … Bengals LS Clark Harris and TE Tyler Kroft played at Rutgers.
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AFC North outlook
Baltimore (4-4) vs. Cleveland (0-9) Thursday night. After snapping a four-game losing streak with the win against Pittsburgh last week, the Ravens could find themselves in first place by Sunday afternoon.
Cleveland (0-9) at Baltimore (4-4) Thursday night. The Browns snapped a seven-game losing in Baltimore last year with a 33-30 win in overtime, but Cleveland has lost 14 of its last 16 to the Ravens overall.
Pittsburgh (4-4) vs. Dallas (7-1) Sunday afternoon. A few weeks ago this game was looked like a possible Super Bowl preview, but the Steelers have lost three in a row for the first time since 2013.