- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- September games don't get much more desperate than the one the New York Giants will play Sunday in Kansas City against the undefeated Chiefs. The Giants are 0-3, which puts them in serious danger of missing the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons. If they were to lose Sunday, they'd be 0-4 for the first time since 1987. The 1992 San Diego Chargers are the only team ever to start 0-4 and still reach the postseason. Here are a couple of things to watch for in Sunday's Giants-Chiefs game:
Can anyone here play offensive line? After allowing seven sacks in last Sunday's 38-0 loss to Carolina, the Giants will play in Kansas City without two of their starting offensive linemen. Center David Baas and right guard Chris Snee will miss the game due to injuries, and since it doesn't appear as though David Diehl is ready to play following August thumb surgery, two from the group of Jim Cordle, James Brewer and Brandon Mosley will have to start. Obviously, the diminished physical condition of Baas and Snee likely contributed to their issues last week, so the bright side is that at least the Giants will have five healthy players on the line this time. The problem is that they're inexperienced backups and playing against a Chiefs team that leads the league in sacks.
Justin Pugh vs. Justin Houston: Pugh, the Giants' rookie right tackle, will have his hands full with outside linebacker Houston, who had 4.5 sacks last week against the Eagles and leads the league with 7.5 sacks on the season. Of Houston's 7.5 sacks, 6.5 have come when he's started the play on the left side of the defensive formation, or the offense's right side. Of the 11 sacks the Giants have allowed this season, eight have come from players who started on that side.
Contain the quarterback: He's not known for his legs the way guys like Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III are, but Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith is more than willing to take off running if the throw isn't there. Smith has scrambled on 12.5 percent of his dropbacks this year -- rushing 16 times for 101 yards on scrambles, according to ESPN Stats & Information's Next Level numbers. The Giants' pass rush, with just six sacks in its last eight games dating back to last season, will have to contend with a slippery target this week.
Spreading it around: After three different Giants receivers eclipsed the 100-yard mark in the Week 1 loss in Dallas, the offense has fallen on tough times. Hakeem Nicks, as you may have heard, didn't catch a single pass in Week 3. Eli Manning needs at least some time to be able to throw the ball, so expect the Giants to play around with some more no-huddle and some shotgun and/or pistol formations to try to create that. If they succeed, Manning will work hard to make sure his receivers all finish the game happy about their target and catch numbers.