MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey 1:00 PM EDT
Television: FOX (Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber, Tiki Barber)
This will be the seventh all-time meeting between the Jaguars and Giants. The series is tied at 3-3 with Jacksonville winning the last game 25-24 Nov. 30, 2014 (Week 13)
JAGUARS INJURY REPORT
GIANTS INJURY REPORT
WHAT IS ON THE LINE
Jaguars: Jacksonville made it all the way to the AFC Championship Game in 2017. They believe they have the tools necessary to win the franchise’s first Lombardi Trophy. Tom Coughlin, who won Super Bowls XLII and XLVI as Giants head coach, makes his return to MetLife Stadium as Jaguars executive vice president of football operations. Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone interviewed for the Giants’ head coaching vacancy that was eventually filled by Ben McAdoo two years ago. Jacksonville is coming off a 10-6 season and their first division title since Coughlin led them to the AFC Central crown and a franchise record 14 wins in 1999.
Giants: The Giants will be looking to officially turn the page on their dismal 2017 season. They lost a franchise record 13 games last season, causing a regime change. There is much optimism surrounding the Giants, especially considering they were an 11-win playoff team just two seasons ago. Unfortunately, the Giants have an uphill battle ahead of them. The optimism will just be talk until the production on the field matches the words.
Beckham will be making his return after missing the final 11 games of 2017 with a broken ankle. His 38 touchdown receptions are the second-most since he entered the league in 2014. It will be interesting to see OBJ in his first action in nearly a year. In Beckham’s absence, Shepard led the team with a career-high 731 receiving yards last season. Shepard has shown the ability to play both the slot and line up on the outside. Bouye was tied for third in the NFL with six interceptions and second in passes defended with 18. Ramsey had four interceptions and 17 passes defended. Bouye and Ramsey were the only teammates with at least four interceptions and 15 passes defended last season.
HOW THE JAGUARS WILL WIN
Jacksonville will look to be aggressive early and often. In 2017, they were ranked second in the league in points allowed per game (16.8), total defense (286.1 yards per game), and sacks (55). Calais Campbell set a franchise record with 14.5 sacks. Five Jaguars defensive players finished 2017 with at least 10 sacks and four forced fumbles.
Leonard Fournette ran for more than 1,000 yards in his rookie season and will look to get going against a Giants run defense that is better than it has been. The biggest question for Jacksonville is their receiving corps. Will they get enough in the passing game from Keelan Cole and new Jaguar Austin Sefarian-Jenkins to keep the Giants from loading the box on every play?
HOW THE GIANTS WILL WIN
The Giants defensive line of Damon Harrison, B.J. Hill, and Dalvin Tomlinson has to win the battle against the Jaguars o-line anchored by free agent Andrew Norwell. The Giants also need to manufacture a pass rush, a task made more difficult with Vernon’s absence. Kareem Martin and Connor Barwin will be thrust into bigger roles from the outset.
Eli Manning has to play better than he did most of last season. The return of Beckham with Shepard, Evan Engram, and rookie Saquon Barkley should diversify the offense. Speaking of Barkley, he has to be productive. Production doesn’t necessarily mean lots of eye-popping stats. If he is able to neutralize the Jaguars pass rush with his catching ability or keep the chains moving, the Giants will be successful.
WHO WILL WIN THE GAME?
The Giants are getting Beckham back and the debut of Barkley should make this game more competitive than it appeared when the schedule came out in April. Jacksonville will take the field with a completely healthy roster while the Giants will be missing their best pass rusher. In spite of this, the Giants are primed for an upset that almost no one expects.
– Curtis Rawls is a Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage and covers the NFL, the New York Giants, and the NBA. Please like and follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Twitter. Curtis can be followed on Twitter @CuRawls203.