Tom E. Curran's Patriots-Giants Preview: Should be another easy win
We’ve enjoyed some really good Thursday night games already this season. This one, I fear, will set Thursday night games back three decades. The Giants aren’t playing Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard against the Patriots at Foxboro, leaving Daniel Jones to do the John Travolta "Pulp Fiction" GIF.
The rookie quarterback and the rest of the Giants offense got handled pretty easily last week while their defense got walked over by the Vikings in a blowout loss. And it’s going to be a freakin’ monsoon. The Patriots will get a lead, nurse the lead, happily engage in a punting festival and call it a week.
When the Patriots Run
The Patriots showed second-half glimmers of productivity on the ground against Washington. Was that thanks to a light going on at halftime or the fact that the up-tempo, pass-happy approach of the first half wore down the Redskins front-seven and made them ripe for the taking? Either way, it was good news if only for the semi-reprieve it gives us from the “Wassa mattah with Sooooonnnnnyyyy????” hand-wringing.
Will it stick? It could. The Giants are allowing 4.4 per carry and allowing 130 per game on the ground. Because of the elements — and the short week — this may be a game where the Patriots see big benefit in running the ball as much as possible. On one hand, it’s physically harder for players to line up and run block play after play. On the other hand, it can milk clock and speed the game. Look for the Patriots to use all their backs almost equally. No sense pounding Michel if Bolden can take some carries as well.
When the Giants Run
Saquon Barkley is down. His backup Wayne Gallman is too. Rookie Jon Hilliman and fullback Eli Penny are the next men up. The Giants aren’t too good on the ground when it gets past Barkley, so they are in deep doo-doo against one of the league’s most stifling run defenses.
When the Patriots Pass
The Patriots hung 33 on the Redskins last week and Tom Brady threw for a bunch of yards by game’s end but the Giants were a team that — going into the game — was allowing 78 percent completions and 63 percent conversions on third down. The Patriots went 5 for 15 on third down and 1 for 4 in the red zone. If it weren’t for Julian Edelman playing out of his head with a bruised sternum (8 catches, 110 yards) the game would have been unreasonably close.
The Patriots at least got a couple of looks to Michel in the passing game and tight ends Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo to make teams respect that. The Giants got carved up in the first half last week by Kirk Cousins in a blowout loss to the Vikings. If the weather is slop, look for the little shorties to Edelman and James White to be the major component of the game plan.
When the Giants Pass
What are the gonna do, Golden Tate the Patriots to death? With their best tight end (Engram) and wideout (Sterling Shepard) on the shelf, it’s Tate, Bennie Fowler and Darius Slayton, who have a grand total of 24 catches between them. Shepard, Engram and Barkley have 69 between them and all will be watching. The Patriots have been almost impossible to pass against and will probably add some more sacks to their eye-popping total through the first five games.
The Giants special teams game has been OK. Punter Riley Dixon has a 47.5 yard net. Kicker Aldrick Rosas has missed just one of 15 kicks (a field goal). This will be a big night for the returners to field the ball cleanly, which means Gunner Olszewski and T.J. Jones will be in the spotlight. So too will Mike Nugent in his second game as a Patriot. Jake Bailey is the lone special teams edge the Patriots have.
Advantage: Giants Patriots
OUT: WR Phillip Dorsett (hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: RB Rex Burkhead (foot), LB Shilique Calhoun (ankle), S Patrick Chung (heel), S Nate Ebner (groin), WR Julian Edelman (chest), WR Josh Gordon (knee)
OUT: RB Saquon Barkley (ankle), TE Evan Engram (knee), RB Wayne Gallman (concussion), WR Sterling Shepard (concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Lorenzo Carter (neck)
The Line & Prediction
Patriots favored by 17. The total is 41.5.
Patriots 16,Giants 3
Week 1: Patriots 16, Steelers 13
(Final: Patriots, 33-3)
Week 2: Patriots 30, Dolphins 0
(Final: Patriots, 43-0)
Week 3: Patriots 20, Jets 6
(Final: Patriots, 30-14)
Week 4: Patriots 19, Bills 13
(Final: Patriots, 16-10)
Week 5: Patriots 30, Redskins 13
(Final: Patriots, 33-7)