EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Alex Smith insists there’s no secret to avoiding interceptions.
“I wish there was,” the Chiefs quarterback earlier this week, promising his ability to take care of the football is nothing more than knowing when to let go and when to hold on.
“If you’re going out there trying not to turn the ball over, that’s a problem,” added Smith, who will lead undefeated Kansas City into Sunday’s game with the winless Giants at Arrowhead Stadium. “You need to go out there and execute. You need to go out there and make plays, but within the structure of you doing your job. There needs to be ball security and for me that’s two hands in the pocket and making good decisions.
“It’s seeing the defense, trusting my reads, my progressions and then throwing the ball where it’s supposed to go.”
The Giants were never supposed to be here: 0-3 for the first time since 1996, in danger of falling to 0-4 for just the third time in the 88-year history of the franchise.
Truth be told: the Chiefs were not supposed to be here, either, having won their first three games under former Eagles coach Andy Reid to already eclipse their 2-14 record in 2012.
They also traded with the 49ers for Smith, who was replaced as San Francisco’s starting quarterback midway through last season by Colin Kaepernick, who led them to the Super Bowl. All Smith has done is restore a semblance of order to the Kansas City offense, which has yet to commit a turnover after the Chiefs were victimized by 37 giveaways last season, tied with the Jets and Eagles for most in the NFL.
Smith has thrown the fewest interceptions in the NFL among quarterbacks with at least 1,000 pass attempts since 2010: six fewer than Tom Brady, eight fewer than Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers.
The Giants have had success against Smith in past seasons, however, winning two of the last three meetings, including the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park en route to Super Bowl XLVI.
Their most impressive defensive performance of the 2012 campaign came at the expense of Smith when they dominated with six sacks — five of Smith and one of Kaepernick — and registered three interceptions in a 26-3 triumph over the 49ers.
“I think the quarterback is doing an excellent job of taking what the defense gives him,” Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said. “I think they do a good job of running the football and he doesn’t feel pressured into making bad decisions. It does help a little bit (to have had previous success against Smith). You have some knowledge of the player. He had good skill there in San Francisco also.
“You’re hoping that you can force him to make some bad decisions.”
The Giants will again be without cornerback Corey Webster (hip), which means Aaron Ross will start opposite Prince Amukamara.
The best way to neutralize Smith might be shutting down running back Jamaal Charles, who has rushed for 224 yards and three touchdowns.
In his last 30 games, Smith has thrown only 10 interceptions, three against the Giants.
“One of the reasons why they’re where they are,” Tom Coughlin said.
SNEE, BAAS OUT: Four-time Pro Bowl right guard Chris Snee (hip) and starting center David Baas (neck) were ruled out while veteran lineman David Diehl (thumb) is listed as doubtful.
This is the second game Snee will be forced to miss since the end of his rookie season in 2004, the other one coming two seasons ago.
James Brewer is expected to start in place of Snee, while Jim Cordle could get his first NFL start at center. The Giants could also slide LG Kevin Boothe to center and give Brandon Mosley his first start there.