Osi Umenyiora is the linchpin of the Giants defense.
The fantastic Cold Hard Football Facts web site uses three metrics to determine the best defensive front in the NFL. They call the best defensive front the Defensive Hog Index. Yards per attempt, negative pass plays as a percentage, and third down percentage are the markers used to quantify the best defensive line. And after six games, the Giants have the best Defensive Hog Index in the NFL. This can be attributed to the phenomenal play of Osi Umenyiora. Thus far, Osi has 16 tackles, EIGHT sacks, and SEVEN forced fumbles. His play, without question, has elevated the play of the Giants defense. In the last three games, which have been all Giants victories, Osi has seven sacks and six forced fumbles. With Osi leading the way on the field, the Giants are tied for second in the league with 21 sacks. In addition to the sacks, the Giants defense has created turnovers. They have seven interceptions and fourteen forced fumbles in which they have recovered the ball seven times. Even with these impressive turnover statistics, the Giants are a NEGATIVE 2 in the takeaway/giveaway ratio. Why? Eli Manning, Ahmad Bradshaw, and the Giants' receivers have been magnanimous. The Giants offense has turned the ball over 16 times. Quarterback Eli Manning has been a turnover machine. Careless with the football, Eli has thrown eight interceptions. And butter fingers Manning and Bradshaw have coughed up the ball a total of eight times. Thankfully, the superb play of the defense has compensated for the offense's ball security shortcomings.
Getting back to the defensive line play, the Giants ability to stop the run is the primary reason for the ameliorated pass rush. Last year, the Giants' rush defense was ranked 14th in the league giving up an average of 110.8 yards per game. This year they have improved to 7th in the league allowing 92.8 yards per game. Therefore, the formula is stuffing the run which makes an offense one dimensional. This in turn puts opposing offenses in third and longs. For example, in the game against Detroit, the Lions were nine out of twenty on third down. If we look at the numbers, the Lions had seven third downs with the distance being 5 yards or less. They successfully converted five out of the seven third and shorts. This is a 71 percent conversion rate. However, with the Giants stifling the Lions ground game, they had a total of thirteen third and longs. The distance for a 3rd and long will be considered eight yards or more. Out of the thirteen third and longs, the Lions converted four of them. That is 31 percent. Consequently, their refined rush defense (thanks to Fewell for making adjustments) leverages the strength of the Giants' defensive line, especially Osi. As long Osi can stay healthy, the Giants defense will be formidable. If he gets injured or wears down due to his lingering knee and hip issues, this unit will not be the same.
Notes: Giants +3.5 on Monday, get those picks posted.
Tomorrow: Q&A with The Dallas Nation to preview the game.