I wish I were writing this article after an Eagles loss but there’s something about the Falcons and their red zone offense that prevented that. Anyway, we are SO close to finally watching meaningful Giants football again. As a refresher, the Giants last meaningful football game was played in SEPTEMBER of last season! Jacksonville, on the other hand, is fresh off an AFC Championship game run that saw them take the Patriots to the brink of elimination. Make no mistake, this Sunday’s tilt against Jacksonville could set the tone for the Giants this year – in both a good or bad way. Here are some story lines and match-ups to keep an eye on this Sunday:
OBJ vs. Jalen Ramsey
How could I not lead off with this? Two all-world, bonafide superstars actually going head-to-head is a beautiful thing! The second the NFL schedule came out, this specific matchup has been talked about ad nauseam. Each will have their moments in this game but lets just hope its none of the extra curricular stuff (see: Odell v. Josh Norman; Ramsey v. AJ Green) and strictly their outrageous talent on display.
Giants O-Line vs. Jags Front Seven
While OBJ v. Ramsey is the sexy matchup to watch, the true key to this game will be how the Giants offensive line holds up against the Jags talented and fast front seven. Specifically, the right side of the line, with Ereck Flowers and Patrick Omameh, is the huge area for concern. Calais Campbell, Myles Jack, and co. will be pining to attack the right side of the line. Look for Head Coach Pat Shurmur to send help in the form of chip blocks from tight ends, Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison, and the backfield including fullback Shane Smith, who might have a sneaky role this year, to slow down the Jags.
Leonard Fournette vs. Giants Run Stoppers
This matchup is strength vs. strength. The best part of the Giants defense has been their ability to stop the run. Led by Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson, the Giants should remain effective against the run against this season. However, the Jags bolstered their offensive line with the acquisition of All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell, and still have a true workhorse running back in Leonard Fournette.
The Return of Tom Coughlin, Sort of
Coach Coughlin returns to MetLife Stadium as the Executive Vice President of Football Operations/architect of an impressive Jacksonville squad that has Super Bowl aspirations. I’m sure his sterling Giants tenure will be mentioned several times during the broadcast. The poaching of Norwell, a known Giants offseason target, will not be forgiven but I still got love for Coach Coughlin!
Make no mistake, Giants had serious interest in Norwell. Really wanted him. Gettleman assigned a value to the player, Jaguars $$ exceeded that value, Takes discipline not to over-extend. But, of course, O-line still needs major fixing. https://t.co/dV7Gk5VfDQ
— Paul Schwartz (@NYPost_Schwartz) March 13, 2018
In order for the Giants to win this game, they need to get a lead early and force the Jags and quarterback Blake Bortles into passing situations. If that doesn’t happen, it’ll be extremely difficult for the Giants to muster a true balanced game plan on O. The Jags D is loaded with playmakers and getting Big Blue to play from behind could doom opening day. I’m worried about the offense because we simply haven’t seen them as a unit (Eli/OBJ/Engram/Saquon/Shepard) in action together once. If they don’t gel quick, it could become a long day at MetLife on Sunday. Here’s to hoping the Giants raw talent on that front prevails….
Jags 16 Giants 19