Official NY Giants Week One prediction:
As to be expected, Vegas is not giving the NY Giants much of a shot to pull off a win at home tonight.
Currently, Big Blue sits as six-point home underdogs (courtesy of the Action Network) which really means the oddsmakers are saying the Steelers are nine points better than the Giants as the home team is typically awarded three points for home field advantage (although the G-Men won’t enjoy too much of an advantage with no fans).
To me, that line is a bit fat and isn’t factoring in just how rusty Big Ben should be after almost a full year off and a condensed offseason that didn’t feature any preseason games.
Really, the NY Giants should benefit from the weird offseason as we already saw numerous teams that were expected to be powerhouses stumble in Week 1 play yesterday (looking at you Cowboys and Eagles).
We’ll take any advantage we can get right now, but let’s not kid ourselves; this is going to be a very tough test for second-year quarterback Daniel Jones and the G-Men.
The Steelers are returning just about their entire defense from last year that saw them finish fifth in total defense, third against the pass while the unit forced the most turnovers in the NFL — that will be the seminal aspect of tonight’s game as we all know how much trouble ‘Danny Dimes’ had hanging onto the football as a rookie.
This year’s fourth-overall pick, offensive tackle Andrew Thomas, will have his hands full and then some trying to slow down an electric Steelers pass rush.
Yet, Thomas played some of his best football against the elite of the elite pass-rushing talent in college football and his football IQ should rub off on guard Will Hernandez who really struggled in his second season last year — but he won’t have to worry about playing next to a human turnstile tonight which should help him tremendously.
The Steelers’ run defense was impressive in 2019 as well, as Saquon Barkley is going to have to work his tail off to put together a big game against a unit that yielded just 3.8 yards-per-carry and only 7 rushing touchdowns in 16 games.
You can expect Pittsburgh to load up the box and dare Jones to beat them over the top — something he’s shown he’s more than capable of doing. Jones should get plenty of 1-1 looks and Darius Slayton has a real chance to put together a big game as he shined in those situations as a rookie.
All in all, this has the potential to be a shootout as the Big Blue ‘D’ is clearly the weaker of team’s two units.
All eyes will be on the NY Giants’ secondary as we’re really not sure what to expect in terms of who will be playing where. Right now, Joe Judge has Corey Ballentine listed as the team’s starting outside cornerback with rookie Darnay Holmes penciled in as the slot cornerback and Julian Love manning the free safety position.
I wouldn’t put much stock into Judge’s depth charts as he comes from the Bill Belichick school that always is trying to confuse its opponents by giving out as little information as possible.
Newcomer and two-time Super Bowl champ Logan Ryan is currently listed as the backup free safety but you can bet he’ll be heavily in the mix and I would expect the status of who is playing where to be extremely fluid.
Whoever is getting the starting snaps will be tested with the Steelers’ versatile group of skill players led by former Pro Bowler Juju Smith-Shuster, speedsters Dionate Johnson and James Washington with 6’4” rookie Chase Claypool expected to be in the mix as well.
The Steelers also added veteran and former Pro Bowl tight end Eric Ebron to the mix at tight end to really round out their skill position group.
The NY Giants will be heavily relying on a pass-rushing group that’s going to pride itself on working off whoever the hot hand is.
In the end, I expect this to be a high scoring game that the Giants have a shot to win late.
Whether Daniel Jones and the offense can keep up with Big Ben will be the million dollar question.
Official GMENHQ prediction: Steelers 31, Giants 28.
YTD against the spread: 0-0