New York Giants (-2.5, 42.5 O/U) at New York Jets
The NFL preseason may be far too long and uneventful, but at least the exhibition calendar has one event that doesn’t totally suck; the battle of New York. A yearly tradition since 1969 to determine who’s the best in the Big Apple, the New York Giants (0-2, 0-1 away) will “visit” the New York Jets (1-1, 1-0 home) this Saturday (7:30 PM Eastern) for a tune-up game that packs a little extra oomph.
There’s a lot less bragging rights on the line than in the past, since the Giants won two Lombardi trophies in the last decade, while the Jets haven’t been to a Super Bowl since this rivalry started. But this seemingly meaningless game has still provided recent, impactful moments; from the very first coming-out party of Victor Cruz, to the injury that ended Mark Sanchez’s career for Gang Green. What story lines will emerge this time around?
The biggest one will surely be the return of Cruz to the field for the first time since he tore his patellar tendon in Philadelphia back in 2014. The wide receiver missed all of last season recovering from that, as well as a nagging calf injury that also required surgery. Giants fans have been dreaming of the prolific receiver’s return since he went down, imagining the deadly pair of him and Odell Beckham Jr on the outside.
It’s no guarantee that Cruz will be up to his old salsa dancing ways with so much time off, and if the Giants offensive line can’t hold up better, Eli Manning may not even have time to find out what his former favorite target can do. Last week, the Buffalo Bills pushed the Giants around in a 21-0 win that saw Manning complete 4 of 9 passes for 44 yards.
The Jets starters didn’t fare much better last week in Washington, managing just two first downs in three drives and turning the ball over once. But the offense should get a jolt tonight as running back Matt Forte is expected to make his Jets debut. The 30-year-old churned out 12,718 combined yards in eight seasons in Chicago, and should bring a new element to New York’s passing attack.
The teams have split the last six preseason meetings, but the Jets took last year’s (actually meaningful) Week 13 meeting, 23-20 in overtime. With the starters in line to leave an impact on this game, you have to like the matchup of the Jets overpowering defensive line against this Giants wilting o-line. Guard Justin Pugh is unlikely to play, leaving them even weaker up front. Manning and co. shouldn’t be able to get much going in this one, so take the “home” side.
Pick: Jets (+2.5).
(Photo credit: @Chennai (Originally uploaded to Flickr)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/])