After breaking down the film and critiquing the teams heading into Week 7, Scouts Inc. tells you what to watch for this weekend.
Giants are licking their chops
We would like to assume that the Giants' poor play on defense versus the Browns was an aberration rather than a trend. Prior to that game, the Giants' defense relied on an extensive blitz package. The Giants aren't afraid to put their corners on an island when bringing pressure from the inside and they will drop their linebackers into open spots when they bring their corners off the edge. This very aggressive blitz package is bad news for the 49ers' offense.
49ers offensive coordinator Mike Martz routinely uses a four-wide look with only one back deep and that back usually goes out as well. This means there is no one past the offensive line to pick up the blitz. When the Giants see this, they will bring both slot corners in off the edge and drop two linebackers -- who looked as if they were blitzing -- into the vacated spots. Often the corners come in untouched, which means QB J.T. O'Sullivan will be hit a lot.
Ryan is playing like a veteran
QB Matt Ryan was amazingly poised under pressure during the Falcons' comeback win over Chicago. He was able to feel the Bears' pass rush, but never let it affect his passes. We have seen his outstanding accuracy and good velocity, but what is surprising is his tremendous sense of down, distance and the clock. He looked like a veteran on the Falcons' last big play before the game-winning field goal as time expired. After the Bears took the lead with 11 seconds left and squibbed the kickoff, Ryan had six seconds to make one pass and get his team in field goal range. No problem for the rookie signal-caller. With the Bears in a prevent defense, Ryan stepped back, avoided pressure and threw a great deep out to the sidelines. This was literally the only pass he could throw. The only reason the Bears' defense got beat was because before Ryan threw to WR Michael Jenkins on the left, he looked right, and the safety on the left, Danieal Manning relaxed for just a second -- which was just enough time for Ryan to squeeze the pass in.
It will be interesting to see how Ryan handles the aggressive Eagles defense in Week 8. Defensive coordinator Jim Johnson will come after him with blitzes, which is a different concept than the Bears used. The Eagles will even use some blitzes he hasn't seen before, but his maturity level is so impressive that he should be fine as long as he doesn't get hit.
New York Giants
Manning should rebound
When you look at the film, it is easy to see why Eli Manning struggled versus the Browns on "Monday Night Football." Simply put, he wasn't disciplined. What we loved about him early in the season was his attention to detail. His play-action and pump fakes were on point and he always looked off defenders -- but it looked as though he did none of that versus Cleveland. On the three plays when he threw interceptions, he locked onto one receiver. It seemed he was trying to force the ball to WR Plaxico Burress early in the game. Plus, his play fakes looked halfhearted and he never looked off his defenders. As a result, the Browns' defensive backs were able to follow Manning's eyes and get a quick break on the ball.
This week, look for Manning to torch the 49ers' secondary. He won't force the ball to Burress as much because the Giants receiver will have already had one game under his belt following his suspension and Manning will not telegraph his passes so much.
Colts' offense looks like what we're used to
The Colts looked as though they were finally back in sync last week. They had great chemistry, the receivers ran superb routes and Peyton Manning put the ball on the money every time. This offense relies on precision and timing. Manning did a great job of anticipating his receivers' breaks and his receivers did a great job of selling routes and coming out of breaks.
This week, the Packers will press at the line of scrimmage -- but you have to like the receivers' chances of beating the jam, creating separation and running precise routes.
Gary Horton, a pro scout for Scouts Inc., has been a football talent evaluator for more than 30 years. He spent 10 years in the NFL and 10 years at the college level before launching a private scouting firm, The War Room.