The New York Giants are still on the quest for their first win of the season, with their next opportunity coming on Sunday when they head on the road to take on the also-winless Houston Texans. And the odds, at least on Tuesday, are not in the Giants’ favor.
Though the Giants and Texans opened nearly even, with the Texans posting a 3.5-point advantage mostly thanks to playing at home, 5Dimes.eu now has the Texans with a seven-point advantage and Bovada.lv, six.
While both teams are struggling, there are reasons for the Giants’ underdog status beyond being the visiting team. In two games, the Giants have scored 28 points, compared to 37 for Houston. And while the Giants have fared well, defensively, against the pass, ranking second in yards allowed, the pass isn’t where the Texans offense’s bread is buttered.
The Texans are a run-heavy team, ranking first in the league in rushing yardage, thanks not just to running backs Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue but also to quarterback Deshaun Watson, who has 84 yards on the ground already this year. Meanwhile, the Giants defense ranks 29th in rushing yardage allowed and is giving up an average of 5.2 yards per rush to its opponents.
It may seem like the Giants have the quarterback advantage, given that Eli Manning’s 69.1 completion percentage is significantly higher than Watson’s 59.1 But the two quarterbacks aren’t ultimately that different; Watson has 486 passing yards, to Manning’s 503, and though Manning has thrown only one interception to Watson’s two, Watson also has three touchdown passes thrown. Manning has just one.
Both quarterbacks have taken relative beatings this season, and it’s both team’s offensive lines that will be the real arbiter of Sunday’s meeting. Watson has taken seven sacks and Manning, eight. But Watson has the benefit of a line that can at least run-block even when it can’t pass protect.
Manning doesn’t have that same luxury, with his struggling line—newly without starting center Jon Halapio—also not opening lanes for Saquon Barkley. The Giants rank just 28th in rushing yards, though granted they have only totaled 40 rushing attempts through two games.
Clearly, oddsmakers think that the Texans have the better chance of both running the ball effectively as well as bringing pressure on Manning. And given that the Texans have (marginally) outscored the Giants, despite both teams being winless, also adds heft to their status as favorites for Week 3.