Jacksonville Jaguars @ New York Giants Preview & Prediction

By Joanne Kong

Twitter: @kongfu4u  New York Giants

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-0) @ New York Giants (0-0)

Excited to see your new and improved teams in the upcoming season?  I am.

With the NFL season prime to begin – the draft, trades, pickups and all the other hard work put into the off-season will soon come to light.  Whether all those changes will bring your team into contention in 2018, though, only time will tell.

For the New York Football Giants, it all starts in week 1 when the Jacksonville Jaguars come to MetLife Stadium.

The Jacksonville Jaguars:

In 2017, Bortles threw for 3,687 passing yards, 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.  The Jaguars finished first in the AFC South with a 10-6 record, losing in the AFC playoffs to the New England Patriots.

The Jaguars had the second best defense in the league in 2017, allowing only an average of 16.8 points per game, only second to the Minnesota Vikings.  In 2017, Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye had the 3rd most interceptions in the league (6) while safety, Barry Church and Tashaun Gipson, and cornerback, Jalen Ramsey, each had 4 interceptions in 2017 and ranked 22, 23, 24 respectively in total interceptions in the league.

According to the CBS Sports power rankings for week 1, the Jacksonville Jaguars are #2.

With the Jaguars defense among the best in the league, an improved offensive line with newly signed guard Andrew Norwell, a strong backfield with second year running back Leonard Fournette, new faces in the offense with rookie wide receiver DJ Chark and former New York Jets tight-end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the Jaguars are looking to return to the playoffs in 2018 and take that last step to the Super Bowl.

Of course, the Jaguars unfortunately lost promising receiver Marqise Lee for the season due to a knee injury suffered in the third preseason game, but Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook and the newly signed Donte Moncrief should be enough to take his place, along with the afore mentioned rookie, Chark.

Week 1 will be the first test of the season to see if all the various returning and off season pieces come together.  But don’t let preseason rankings mislead you.  Although there’s no doubt that the Jaguars are contenders, that doesn’t mean they will finish 16-0 at the end of the regular season.

The New York Giants:

Last season, the Giants had a floundering backfield, a weak offensive line, injured players and a defense that finished 2nd to last in the league.  In addition, Eli Manning looked uncomfortable, unconfident and hesitant as he threw for just 3,468 passing yards, 19 hard earned touchdowns and 13 interceptions, even getting benched at one point for Jets castaway Geno Smith.  Ultimately, the Giants finished 3-13 for the season and last in the NFC East.

We all know preseason does little to predict what happens in the regular season.  However, once in a while, we can get glimpses of how much or how little a player has improved.  Case in point, during the 3rd preseason game against the New York Jets, Manning’s poor decision making while under pressure cost tight end Evan Engram to get crushed and suffer a concussion.  As one of the primary contributing players on the team, Engram sat out the fourth pre-season game against the New England Patriots, as did most of the starters.  The good news is that the week off gave Engram enough time to return to practice prior to the season opener.

Manning’s confidence and ability had been in question throughout the 2017 season,  however, with the added pieces, Manning should feel more confident in 2018.  The Giants head office has improved the offensive line by drafting left guard Will Hernandez and signing offensive tackle Nate Solder away from the Patriots.  In addition, Manning has more weapons on offense with the addition of much-hyped rookie running back Saquon Barkley and former Broncos prospect wide receiver Cody Latimer.

And with a healthy Odell Beckham Jr., the likely return of Evan Engram and new head coach Pat Schumer’s implementation of two tight-end sets and a multitude of unique plays, the Giants offense should be tough to defend.

On defense, Giant’s linebacker Olivier Vernon, who suffered an ankle injury during preseason, will likely be out for week 1, but the rest of the defense looks to be on track.

The Outcome:

The Jacksonville Jaguars are currently favored by 3, but I’m picking the Giants with the upset.

There’s a rule of thumb, you don’t have to be the best…just better than the opposing team.  Go Big Blue!

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