Some Things To Watch Tonight

Here are five things the Giants must tend to if they expect to beat the Rams in their home opener tonight.

An 0-2 start isn't insurmountable, as the Giants proved in 2007 when they dropped their first two games and then scrambled their way into a Super Bowl championship season.

But it's not the best way to open a schedule, either. So you can bet the heat is on to beat an eminently beatable Rams squad.

There's a nice little tie-in tonight, too. That defense that fell so flat the first two games of '07 was coordinated by Steve Spagnuolo, who now coaches the Rams. Ought to be interesting to see the kind of pressure he brings before a national TV audience.

Here are five things the Giants must do to ensure victory.

SHORT YARDAGE: There's nothing wrong with using Ahmad Bradshaw instead of pounder Brandon Jacobs in short-yardage situations. Bradshaw is a very capable runner with the ability to pop one on any down. But the front has to block. The fourth-and-1 failure last week wasn't due to Bradshaw. Center David Baas blocked the wrong guy. Get that straightened out, and they'll keep the chains moving.

HIT BRADFORD: Sam Bradford threw just okay in limited practice. He has a bruised thumb, and he young. Bad combination right there if the Giants know how to handle it. You do that through pressure. Time for Jason Pierre-Paul to step up again, since Osi Umenyiora will remain on the bench and Justin Tuck will be a gametime decision. Dial up plenty of blitzes with rookie MLB Greg Jones or the third safety, probably Deon Grant. Hit the kid early and let him know it's going to be a long night.

FIND THE NEW GUY: The Giants just signed Brandon Stokley as their slot receiver, thereby making one of their best moves of the season. Now they have to use him. Stokley, a 13th-year veteran, hasn't been around the team long enough to absorb the entire playbook, but he knows plenty enough to run some comfortable routes and be productive. They should target him at least seven or eight times this game. Get him right into the flow. He'll get you first downs, and that's what the Giants need right now.

USE JACOBS: As stated before, there's nothing wrong with Bradshaw. But Kevin Gilbride has to find a way to get Brandon Jacobs more than the six carries he had last week. He's too big and too strong to sit on the bench.

STAY FOCUSED: Philadelphia comes up next week, so it will be easy to think about them before taking care of the business at hand. This game is way too important for that. Take it for granted that the Eagles will come out steaming after their tough loss to Atlanta Sunday night. The last thing the Giants need is to head into The Link at 0-2.

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