By: Brendan Schick
*Disclaimer: These are my opinions as a lifetime NY Giants fan. My opinions may suck sometimes.*
Giants fans, the NFL season has arrived and everything seems to be relatively stable within the Giants organization. OBJ got paid, Gettleman has cleaned house of some Jerry Reese-era roster leftovers, and the prospect of a clean slate under Pat Shumur begins in just a few days. The first test of the season is this Sunday when the Jacksonville Jaguars come to East Rutherford. The Jaguars are coming off of a trip to the AFC Championship Game where they lost to the New England Patriots by a small margin. Meanwhile, the Giants are coming off a GARBAGE 3-13 season shrouded by injuries and locker room tension. Highlighted by arguably the best defense in the NFL and sophomore running back Leonard Fournette, the Jags will stand as quite the first test for the Giants. Let’s break down the matchup, shall we?
The Giants’ offense figures to struggle in this game. I am not a pessimistic fan, but when you look at this years Jags’ D, you think of the Seattle Seahawks’ D from just a few years ago. So, with that being said, I am expecting Saquon Barkley to be held to a relatively unimpressive debut. I believe he will score, but the yardage will not be that that blows the mind. Likewise, I am expecting Odell Beckham to be held to a quiet opener, maybe catching 7 passes for 50 yards or so without a score. Jalen Ramsey is arguably the most talented cornerback that OBJ has ever gone up against, so this matchup to start the season is not ideal for the Giants’ million-dollar man. However, I am expecting WR Sterling Shepard to have the most impressive day of the Giants’ offensive weapons. Shepard will be matched up against DJ Hayden, the former-Raiders first-round pick that was exiled from Oakland and labeled a bust. I expect Shepard, a pretty good receiver, to expose Hayden for 7-8 catches, 80 yards and a score. I think Evan Engram has a modest day, 4 catches for 50 yards, however, I am expecting a low-scoring day for the Giants overall. Eli Manning has never been agile, and against an absolutely tenacious defense, the new-look offensive line is going to take a beating. This season will go as far as the big guys up front take this team, and Jacksonville is so stacked up front that I just don’t see this going the Giants’ way. But, I hope to be proven wrong. At the end of the day, I think good ol’ Eli will throw for 205 yards, 2 scores, and 2 interceptions.
The Giants’ defense is the X-factor in this game. After an offseason that saw Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Jason Pierre-Paul leave town, the Giants’ roster on the defensive side has had some turnover. Janoris Jenkins, Landon Collins, and Eli Apple lead the way in the defensive backfield, while Damon Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson look to disrupt the flow of game-managing QB Blake Bortles. The Giants will most likely be without DE Olivier Vernon due to a high-ankle sprain. Stopping powerhouse RB Leonard Fournette must be a priority for the Giants. If the G-men want to have any chance of winning this game, the pass rush *must* force Blake Bortles out of the pocket and into bad throws to an average receiving core. Let’s see what James Bettcher’s got in his playbook, eh?
All in all, I think this will be a very sloppy football game for both sides. I think this game is going to be very low scoring, as both Eli and Bortles will struggle to score against their respective opponents. I think the Jags win this one by a score of 20-17. I do believe the Giants will be a very solid team this year, but this matchup from the start was always going to be tough. Although the game may not be great, the return of Coach Tom Coughlin to MetLife Stadium will be. Can’t wait until he is enshrined in Canton. Let’s go Giants! (Prove my predictions wrong!)
Check out some of my offseason articles about the Giants on NFLNoseBleed!:
Odell Beckham Jr. Got Paid
Are The NYG Super Bowl Sleepers?
Predictions For Saquon Barkley's Rookie Season
Eli Apple An Offseason Standout
Follow @NFLNosebleed for more!