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Dottino: Giants Have To Straighten Out For Meetup With Jaguars

By Paul Dottino
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So you think it can't get any worse for the 3-8 Giants?

Just imagine if they fall to the Jaguars (1-10) in Jacksonville on Sunday. It would be their seventh straight loss ... a defeat to the NFL's doormat ... and a setback against coach Tom Coughlin's former team on Alumni Day, when Jacksonville will bring back several of the players he coached - some to two AFC Championshp games. And did we mention that he will have plenty of family at the game?

No ... cannot happen. The Giants simply have to straighten themselves out for this one.

Here are three key matchups to watch:

1. Jaguars DE Chris Clemons vs. Giants offensive tackles

The Jaguars, despite allowing 27.7 ppg (31th in the NFL), rank third in the league with 33 sacks. Clemons, who developed into a sack specialist while he was with Seattle, leads the way with seven and will flop from side to side. He had three traps and a forced fumble - all in the first half - against the Colts last weekend, proving that he can dominate the opposition in any given quarter. LT Will Beatty has been charged with four sacks this season, although only 1 1/2 over the past five games. Either Justin Pugh (quad, 7 1/2 sacks) or Geoff Schwartz (one sack in one game) are expected to play right tackle. It will be the job of the tackles to make sure the speed-rushing Clemons (10 forced fumbles over the past five seasons) does not disrupt the offense.

2. Giants linebackers vs. Jaguars RB Denard Robinson

Robinson, a former Michigan quarterback, has spent the past five games as the Jags' primary ball carrier, although he will line up anywhere and they aren't afraid to blow out the playbook to take advantage of his speed and athleticism. They want to get him outside the numbers and in space whenever possible. Over that stretch, he has put up two 100-yard rushing games and averaged 83 yards and 4.5 yards per carry. MLB Jameel McClain (knee) has been limited in practice, which further strains the Giants' short-handed linebacking corps. Devon Kennard and Mark Herzlich each took snaps in the middle alongside OLB Spencer Paysinger this week. The Giants have held their opponents to less than 100 rushing yards just once (Colts) during their six-game slide.

3. Giants Eli Manning vs. Jaguars secondary

We're looking at Manning's five-interception game against the 49ers as an aberration, which means it's more significant that he's only been charged with seven interceptions over the other 10 games. Jacksonville's defense ranks tied for 28th in the league with five interceptions (only two by the secondary). Manning needs to stay within himself and play a clean game because there's no reason for him to allow the Jaguars to snare any of his passes.

PREDICTION: Giants 30, Jaguars 10
PREDICTION RECORD vs. spread: 9-2

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