Site expert Charles “Chuck” Vitolo gives you his week three game prediction in this edition of ‘Chuck’s corner’.
Welp, I was off last week — way off. The New York Giants were outclassed by the Buffalo Bills at home last week, in what was a deflating loss for a number of reasons. This week, Big Blue will head to Tampa Bay to take on the middling Buccaneers, as the team looks to keep it’s season alive despite the fact that it’s only the first day of the fall season.
Vegas has the line on this game as Buccaneers -6, and I think that’s fair. The Giants have shown nothing- particularly on defense – to deserve any kind of respect amongst the rest of the NFL world. The good news is that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a mediocre-to-average football team, and they are missing a key piece on defense in top-five draft pick, linebacker Devin White.
The heavily-discussed quarterback change figures to give Big Blue a new look on offense, one that is direly needed. Daniel Jones is infinitly more athletic than Eli Manning, and it will be refreshing to have a quarterback under center that can actually use his legs to avoid a pass-rush. We’ll have to see if Jones can show that he can play with the big boys in a real game, and that he can hang onto the football.
On a positive note, the Giant offense is getting back a key weapon in wide-out Sterling Shepard. Additonally, rookie speedster Darius Slayton appears ready to suit up for the first time in his young career, giving the offense a deep threat dimension that they have sorely -lacked in their first two contests. The offensive line is healthy and has been productive, and Evan Engram has looked spectacular so far – am I talking myself into a win here, already?
Tampa Bay features a potent offense, with a highly-respected offensive coach in Bruce Arians now at the helm. The unit has been up-and-down to start the season, but any offense that features the likes of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard (where has he been, by the way?) is one that has to be respected. It would not be surprising to see the unit finally click against the lowly New York Giant defense.
Speaking of that defense, as I highlighted earlier, the unit needs a turnover (and a lot of other things) in the worst way. Picking off a Jameis Winston pass (something we’ve seen so many other teams have zero difficulty doing), or even falling on a freak fumble, will go a long way towards building confidence amongst this young group. The pass-rush was actually better (although it would have been hard to be worse) last week against Buffalo, and I expect them to continue to trend in the right direction tomorrow.
If James Bettcher can begin to show us that he is the ‘creative mastermind’ (paraphrasing here) that Tampa coach Bruce Arians has always lauded him to be, there is no reason the Giants can not win this football game. For starters, it would be refreshing to see a more aggressive approach in terms of covering wide-outs, as giving Godwin and Evans eight yards off the line of scrimmage will simply not work. The team might as well not even show up if that is going to be the strategy tomorrow, again.
‘X-Factor’ of the week
I could not have been more wrong about last week’s potential ‘X-factor’, so let’s try to do a better job here – Rhett Ellison was puzzlingly nowhere to be found last week, although he did have a big play called back on a penalty.
This week, I’m going with rookie linebacker Ryan Connelly. Connelly has been gushed-over during his time as a Giant, something you don’t always see when hearing about a fifth-round draft choice. The rookie has worked his way up all the way to the starting lineup, due to his leadership and cognitive abilities.
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It will be interesting to see just how much of a factor Connelly will be in terms of calling out the opposing offense, and relaying plays to his teammates – this would be a major indictment on Alec Ogletree, although that may be warranted at this time. I expect the rookie to do a solid job covering the middle of the field on passing plays, and don’t be surprised if he finds himself in the middle of that elusive first turnover – he has the instinctive ability to be in the right place at the right time.
I hate the fact that I’ve talked myself into thinking this team can win, again, but that’s whats happened. For those that will write me off as a ‘Giants homer’, I encourage you to look at either my twitter feed, or our feed over at @gmenhq, you will see that is not the case.
I just don’t have a ton of respect for this Tampa team, although the defense appears to be much-improved with Todd Bowles calling the shots. I think Devin White being out will loom-large, and as my fantasy team will tell you, Jameis Winston loves to turn the ball over. I expect the defense to at least luck into a turnover, or two, finally.
Daniel Jones finds himself in a much-better situation than many other rookie quarterbacks have stepped into, regardless of what you hear from the biggest Eli loyalists. There are more than enough weapons for him to succeed – even without Golden Tate – and the offensive line will give him time. Saquon figures to have a big day against this Tampa ‘D’.
Giants squeak out a nail-biter, in what will actually be an insanely-entertaining game, 31-28.
YTD prediction record: 1-1 (50%)