Giants vs Bengals: Matchup with Bengals Will Get Eli Manning Back on Track

Jeremy Fuchs@@jaf78Correspondent IIINovember 10, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 04: Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants at play against the Pittsburgh Steelers during their game at MetLife Stadium on November 4, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Eli Manning is in the midst of a slump. In his past two games, Manning is 25-of-53 for 317 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. That's a completion percentage of 47.1 percent, well below his career average of 58.6 percent. The Giants have gone 1-1 in this stretch.

It's not clear why Manning is struggling. There is no outward sign of injury and, going into the slump, Manning was having a terrific season.

So it may be just a slump. If it is, Sunday's game against the Bengals is the perfect matchup to get him back on track.

The Bengals pass defense is 19th-best in the league, as they give up an average of 240.4 yards per game. Last week against the Broncos, Peyton Manning was able to throw for 291 yards and three touchdowns.

They give up an average of 357.4 yards per game, good for 20th in the league. They give up an average of 27.2 points per game, which is 25th-best in the league. They are coming off four straight losses. 

To make matters worse, the Bengals do not have a slot cornerback who is capable of keeping up with Victor Cruz. Terrence Newman and Nate Clements have lost a step and Leon Hall will most likely cover Hakeem Nicks. The Bengals have allowed receivers to exceed 90 yards in the past few games.  

One of the biggest issues for the Giants is that they haven't been able to convert in the red zone. Instead of touchdowns, they come away with field goals. The Giants, in their last two games, have been in the red zone six times, but have come away with only two touchdowns. That brings their red-zone efficiency to 44.7 percent, good for 24th in the league. 

Luckily for the Giants, the Bengals defense is just as bad in the red zone. They are ranked 30th in the league in red zone defense, giving up 16 touchdowns in 24 attempts. That's a 66.7 percent conversion rate for opposing offenses. 

Yes, Eli and the Giants can't seem to score in the red zone, but the Bengals cannot stop anyone. The Giants are too talented to not take advantage of that fact. Look for Martellus Bennett to get action in the red zone, as Manny Lawson is not the best in coverage. 

We don't know if Eli Manning's struggles are symptomatic of a larger problem, but this week will be telling. The Bengals defense represents a prime matchup for the Giants, and if Eli is just in the middle of a slump, then he should have a big game. But if it is a bigger problem, then it could be a rough game. 

We fully expect, however, that this is just a minor slump and that Eli Manning will break out in a big way against the pitiful Bengals defense.