New York Giants
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The 0-2 New York Giants will try to put a screeching halt to their winless streak this Sunday when they host the 2-0 Houston Texans at MetLife Stadium.
It's not going to be easy for the Giants, who have yet to fully click on either side of the ball, and who will need to figure out how to come together in a hurry to counter the challenges posed by first-year head coach Bill O'Brien's upstart Texans football team.
On offense, the Giants have yet to score more than 14 points in a game. They also coughed up the ball six times, with four of those turnovers converted to 16 points by opponents.
That's not a good trend to be taking into a game against a Texans team that has a plus-5 turnover ratio, and who has converted two of those turnovers into 10 points so far.
"They've been playing well. The offense has protected the ball, the defense has gotten turnovers," Giants quarterback Eli Manning said.
"They've controlled the clock, so we've got to make sure that we don't give them any extra possessions and give them any great field position. We've got to play smart but also make some plays and stretch the ball and find ways to hit some big plays but also get first downs and score some points."
That might be easier said than done given the mistakes that the Giants have made on offense so far, mistakes that have stunted scoring drives and have disrupted the rhythm.
However, Manning said that the offense is continuing to move in the right direction.
"We definitely made some strides, but we have to put it all together. We definitely have an understanding of the concepts and timing of the offense so we can play fast and make plays," he said.
The Texans defense, which is coming off a dominating performance last week against Oakland, is led by defensive end J.J. Watt, the electrifying pass rusher who has proven himself to be a one-man wrecking crew.
"He's someone you watch on film and from snap to whistle, he's going 110 miles-per-hour," said right tackle Justin Pugh, who will probably see a good deal of Watt on Sunday.
"Not every guy has a motor like that; it's a testament to the hard work he puts into it and the way he plays the game. So you definitely respect that and it makes you raise your level as a player because you have to raise your level of intensity. You have to go out there and play our game and be physical up front."
The Giants defense is trying pick up the pieces after losing cornerback Walter Thurmond III for the season and will also probably be without inside linebacker Jon Beason. Against those challenges, one of their biggest challenges will be trying to minimize damage by Houston running back Arian Foster, whose 241 yards rushing is second in the league behind DeMarco Murray of the Cowboys.
"He's a great running back-he's one of the best running backs in the league that I've seen who can find a hole that's not quite there yet," said linebacker Spencer Paysinger, who could see some snaps at outside linebacker this week against Foster if Jameel McClain moves inside for Beason.
"(Foster) trusts his linemen and his fullback, and the way he gets through some of those holes is magical," Paysinger said. "For us, it's all about being gap sound and making sure we're not popping in and out of gaps. Just play your responsibilities."
It might also help if the Giants defense can force quarterback Ryan Patrick, who has done a nice job of reducing his turnovers from 23 in 2011 to none so far in 2014, into making some errant throws.
It won't be easy though given the chance in scheme being run under O'Brien.
"Some of the plays that they are running have really optimized the quarterback's throwing percentage and ratio," Paysinger said of the reduction in Fitzpatrick's turnovers.
"The ball is coming out quicker, he is not really sitting in the pocket as much, getting hit as much. Some of the route concepts we have seen, especially having Arian Foster back there, is a plus."
All in all, the Giants have a tall order ahead of them, but it's not insurmountable.
"You got to push the extra mile. Every guy has to do over and beyond their job," said safety Antrel Rolle of getting over the hump. "We just have to lead and hopefully everyone else follows through, but it is going to start with making plays."
SERIES HISTORY: 4th regular-season meeting. Giants lead series, 2-1. The Giants have won the last two games in the regular-season series, and are 1-1 against the Texans in their home stadium. New York has outscored Houston 62-36 in the regular season.