'Monday Night Football' preview: What to watch for in Giants-Chiefs

New York Giants
2021 · 2-5-0
Kansas City Chiefs
2021 · 3-4-0

8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN) | GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium

Week 8 concludes with an interconference matchup of teams that may start hitting the panic button with a loss. The Chiefs (3-4) and the Giants (2-5) are coming off contrasting results, with New York looking to win consecutive games for the first time this season and Kansas City in desperate need of a good showing in front of its home crowd. The Chiefs haven't won a home game since Week 1 and the Patrick Mahomes era has never seen three home defeats in a row. Typecast as the role of spoiler, the frisky Giants shouldn't be overlooked and history favors New York with an 11-3 all-time record versus the Chiefs in the quadrennial series.

Here are four things to watch for Monday night when the Chiefs host the Giants:

  1. Patrick Mahomes aims to quell turnover woes. Much to the surprise of everyone, the reigning AFC champions hobble into Week 8 with a losing record and their superstar quarterback not looking like his former MVP self. The Chiefs have already matched their highest loss total for any season with Mahomes at the helm and the uncharacteristic start is best reflected by their league-high 17 giveaways. Mahomes' nine interceptions also lead the NFL, and his two-plus giveaways in each of the last three games is the longest active streak, per NFL Research. Coming off his worst game of the 2021 season, Mahomes recognized he's "got to be better" leading up to Monday night. With Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce at his disposal, Mahomes will often be tempted to maintain his gunslinger mentality, but mistake-free football is what's needed for a team staring at a proverbial 'must-win' game in Week 8 versus a 2-5 opponent. Beginning with this game, the Chiefs enter a crucial part of the season with five of their next six being played at Arrowhead. How this season fares for Mahomes and Co. will come down to how they make it out of this stretch.
  2. A chance for a defensive revival. Giveaways aren't the only issues plaguing the 2021 Chiefs. The defense has surrendered 29.0 points per game (T-27th in NFL) and 404.6 YPG (28th in NFL), which is putting even more pressure on the offense. One solution to reviving the defense is getting after the quarterback. The Chiefs are tied for last in the NFL with just eight sacks on the season and their 1.1 sacks per game puts them as worst in the league. Up against the Giants, who recently lost left tackle Andrew Thomas (their third starting offensive lineman lost this season), Chiefs pass rushers Chris Jones (two), Michael Danna (three) and Frank Clark (zero) have a chance to improve the paltry sack numbers. Causing havoc in the backfield would do wonders for a team that has not allowed fewer than 29 points in any of their three home games this season (32.3 PPG allowed at home), which has much to do with the Chiefs not winning at Arrowhead in nearly two months.
  3. Pressure is key for the G-Men. Of course, pressuring Mahomes will be essential to preserving his struggles. According to Next Gen Stats, Mahomes completes just 35.6% of his passes (three touchdowns, three interceptions) and has a 51.8 passer rating when under pressure this season. The Giants are coming off their best defensive performance of the year so far with a six-sack drubbing of the Carolina Panthers. Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence and Austin Johnson have fortified the Giants D-line into a force midway through the season and rookie pass rusher Azeez Ojulari has emerged with a team-high 5.5 sacks. While the Giants defense has had its fair share of injuries, look for a pair of McKinneys to come in as reinforcements. Second-year safety Xavier McKinney will assume Jabrill Peppers' role following his season-ending knee injury and newcomer Benardrick McKinney will see more action at linebacker in his second game with the team.
  4. A mouth-watering matchup for Daniel Jones? Kansas City has allowed the most rushing yards (241) and rushing touchdowns (four) to QBs entering Week 8, which bodes well for the Giants' leading rusher. Remarkably, Jones leads the team with 229 rushing yards (5.6 yards per attempt) and two rushing TDs on the year and the Giants QB has been the most valuable player on the offense based on availability alone. Thanks to their dominance on defense last week, the Giants were able to win handily without star running back Saquon Barkley and their top three wide receivers on offense. Barkley (ankle) and wide receiver Kenny Golladay remain out versus the Chiefs, but rookie Kadarius Toney (ankle) and veteran Sterling Shepard (hamstring) could return (both listed as questionable). Toney (23/317) and Shepard (28/299/1) are the top pass catchers for Jones, which is an added element that may have the Chiefs playing on their heels.

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