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Giants at Texans staff picks, predictions: BBV writers make their picks

Which of these 0-2 teams will come away with their first victory?

Cincinnati Bengals v Houston Texans Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Can the New York Giants pull an upset of the Houston Texans on Sunday and avoid an 0-3 start? Here is how your Big Blue View staff sees today’s 1 p.m. ET contest playing out.

Chris Pflum

When we started the season I said that I was hopeful for the team under the new regime, but I wasn't going to pick them to win until they gave me reason to. I made an exception in week two for sentiment's sake against the Dallas Cowboys, and the Giants took a step backwards.

So now this week I'm back to waiting for proof of life before picking the Giants to do anything but lose.

The odds are stacked against them this week. On offense, Houston has a smart, mobile quarterback, who has multiple receiving threats downfield, as well as a potential run game. The Giants will have to figure out how to deal with them without Olivier Vernon and Eli Apple. On defense, they have one of the scariest pass rushing trios in the league, facing an offensive line that underwent massive change, but no substantive improvement.

The Giants CAN win this game. They have the firepower on both sides of the ball to compete, but so far they haven't shown the ability to use it and do so. If Pat Shurmur, Mike Shula, and James Bettcher don't have this team ready to win from the first whistle, this game could get ugly.

Final score: Houston 24, Giants 14

Season record: 1-1

Dan Pizzuta

Both of these teams are 0-2, but not all 0-2 teams are created equally. The Giants look and feel like an 0-2. They rank 27th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA and 30th in DAVE, which keeps in preseason projections this early in the season. Houston, on the other hand, is 11th in DVOA and 12th in DAVE despite the 0-2 start.

Houston also looks like a terrible matchup for the Giants. They have a number of playmakers along the defensive line that can create problems for any offensive lineman. If it’s not J.J. Watt or Jadeveon Clowney making a play, it’s D.J. Reader. The Texans only rank 31st in defensive pressure rate per Sports Info Solutions charting, but that came against Tom Brady and a Titans team that barely let Blaine Gabbert throw the ball, nevermind have a drop back that would have invited pressure. Houston’s pass rushers are on the verge of a breakout and it might happen against the Giants. And even while there hasn’t been as much pressure against the pass, the line has been dominant against the run — third in DVOA.

Where the Giants could possibly take advantage is by rushing the passer themselves. Houston is weak at tackle and ranks 30th in pressure rate allowed on offense (the Giants rank 29th). After the Dallas game, the Giants shot up to 11th in defensive pressure rate after a poor showing in Week 1 against Jacksonville. Olivier Vernon still hasn’t practiced, so it might again be up to the edge depth to create pressure. The Texans could easily counteract that with RPOs and read option, though the team has been hesitant to let Deshaun Watson take called handoffs. Watson has 13 rushing attempts this season, but none have been from a read option keeper.

Losing Eli Apple is a big blow to the defense, too — there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write. Among 65 qualified cornerbacks, Apple is second in yards allowed per pass (2.0) and tied for 13th in success rate. That could lead the deep threat of Will Fuller on B.W. Webb and Donte Deayon and Watson is not afraid to go deep when Fuller gets open.

Final score: Houston 27, Giants 17

Season record: 2-0

Patricia Traina

I want to believe this week will be different, that the mistakes that have doomed the Giants in their first two games have been corrected and that the focus is at a point where it’s now razor sharp.

I really want to believe that.

So with that said, why am I picking the Texans this week?

For starters, I don’t like some of the match-ups in this game, namely J.J. Watt vs. that right side of the Giants offensive line, or Will Fuller against cornerback B.W. Webb (who will probably get the start with Eli Apple not playing).

While I appreciate Eli Manning for being the last of the classic pocket passers, I don’t like how there have been a couple of instances so far this season where if he just moved a little bit more in the pocket, maybe he would have avoided a sack or a pressure.

I don’t like that the coaches have abandoned the run early even with the game still in reach. and despite having a running back in Saquon Barkley capable of making hay without a pitchfork (or in this case, getting yards without ideal blocking in front of him).

I like John Greco and think he’ll be a fine addition to the starting offensive line, but I’m just not sure what the effect on whatever jelling and communication progress that line has made will be affected thanks to this key change.

And I especially don’t like that the Giants have to face another mobile quarterback when they have yet to show they can keep the last two they faced to way under 40 yards rushing.

In short, I don’t feel warm and fuzzy about a Giants win this week, a “‘must win” game (boy do I hate that term “must win”), which is a shame because after this game, their schedule doesn’t get any easier.

Final score: Texans 24, Giants 20

Season record: 1-1

Andrea Hangst

The Giants’ defense can keep them in this game, but it’s the offense that will ultimately bring upon their demise. The line continues to struggle, the passing game is stagnant despite Eli Manning having one of the league’s top receivers at his disposal and that struggling line isn’t making Saquon Barkley look like a good use of a No. 2 overall draft pick. The Giants seem poised to be outscored in a low-scoring contest and to remain winless through three games.

Final score: Texans 17, Giants 10

Season record: 1-1

Kevin Haswell

The Giants’ showed more of their true colors last week against the Cowboys. Coming into the season, I had a lot of confidence in this Giants team to win between 8 and 10 games and after watching the first two weeks, I put that win total between 5 and 7. This week will be more of the same. I think the Giants struggle once again, losing this one by a touchdown on the road in Houston.

Final score: Texans 24, Giants 17

Season record: 1-1

Joe DeLeone

Optimists look at this weekend’s battle of the 0-2s as the perfect opportunity for the Giants to get back on track. I, however, am not one of them.

Considering the lack of creativity in the offensive game plan, there is a strong likelihood the Giants fail to score over 20 points for the third straight week. The offensive line does not stack up with the elite pass rushing unit the Texans have. J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney dominate in situations like this. Unless Pat Shurmur and Mike Shula find ways to get the ball out of Eli Manning’s hands quicker, offensive production will remain stagnant.

Defensively the Giants are in a position to have another stout game. The Giants are currently second in the NFL in pass yards allowed with only 164 yards per game. With few receiving options outside of DeAndre Hopkins, Deshaun Watson will not have a stellar day throwing the football. If they are going to be successful on defense they need to bottle up Watson like they did with Dak Prescott. The more he throws, the better for the Giants.

This game will be another low-scoring one. The defense is firing on all cylinders, while the offense looks lost. It will be the same case this weekend.

Final score: Texans 23, Giants 13

Season record: 1-1

Mark Schofield

Not a lot of optimism right now, and with good reason. The offense is struggling, Saquon Barkley becoming a focal point of the passing game is not what many expected, and the defense was susceptible to zone read runs from Dak Prescott, something you can expect them to see more of this week in Houston.

If you want to find a silver lining, you can look at the number of missed opportunities in the passing game. Throws missed against Jacksonville. Opportunities passed on against Dallas. Sometimes teams on a verge of a breakout performance finally hit on opportunities that passed them by in previous games.

Unfortunately, it seems like such a breakout might still be on the horizon. An offensive line that has struggled with protection now gets to face a defense with players like Watt and Clowney. A defense that has struggled against mobile quarterbacks faces another in Watson. The breakout might be coming, but it might take another week or two.

Final score: Houston 24, New York 14

Season record: 1-1

Ed Valentine

All week long I have been trying to talk myself into picking the Giants to win this game. Having seen what we have seen from the Giants thus far, though, with this game being on the road, with two key defensive starters out of the lineup and with many of the matchups not being favorable to the Giants I just can’t bring myself to do it.

I am particularly concerned about the Houston front of J.J. Watt, Jadaveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus and D.J. Reader against the Giants struggling offensive line.

I don’t want to believe this will be another completely lost season for the Giants. I really don’t believe it will be. I think at some point the Giants will get their ship turned around and pointed in the right direction. I just can’t bring myself to predict that the turnaround will start on Sunday.

Final score: Texans 24, Giants 17

Season record: 0-2