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Giants vs. Jaguars: Staff picks, predictions for Sunday’s game

Who will win? Here is what our writers think

NFL: New York Giants at New York Jets
Yes Eli, we are all wondering what will happen today.
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

How will the New York Giants fare Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars? Well, nobody knows for sure but that won’t stop us from telling you what we think might happen. Here are this week’s Big Blue View Week 1 staff predictions.

Chris Pflum

I’ve decided, right from kickoff, that I’m going to keep my policy of waiting for proof before I believe. I do believe that the Giants’ offense will be dramatically improved over anything we’ve seen from the team since the first half of 2012. More than the (considerable) talent at the skill positions, I think the scheme will be the biggest change. Eli Manning has never been in a truly “QB Friendly” offense, that not only provides him with quick, clearly defined reads, but also the chance to attack a defense that his personality and competitiveness demands. By the same token, we have never seen Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard in a scheme that actively looks to create mismatches, put defenders in responsibility conflicts, and maximize throwing windows. Considering what the two were able to do in the previous offense, the potential is exciting.

Likewise, I love what the defense has shown so far, particularly when it comes to aggression and variety. They will give up big plays, but that is occasionally the price of the blitz.

But all that said, I just can’t have faith — yet.

The Jaguars had a legitimately great defense in 2017, powered by an unreal success rate when they were able to force offenses into 3rd and long situations. The way to beat them was to make measured gains, keep your offense on schedule, and not let them fully unleash that hyper-athletic defense.

The Giants’ new scheme is well-suited to that style of offense. Pat Shurmur is going to want to run the ball — a lot — throw the ball to his running backs — a lot — and generally keep making a profit on every down. They will absolutely take their shots down the field — It is what Manning thrives on and there is a vertical component built into just about every play. They just need to be patient and pick their spots, but “out-patienting” a defense has never been one of Eli’s strong suits. He is quietly one of the most competitive players around and he would much rather crack the throttle and gun it than cruise at the speed limit. There’s also the problem of the interior offensive line. The guards and center, particularly Jon Halapio and Patrick Omameh, have struggled with speed in the pre-season, with slow hands giving up leverage leading to quick losses. Even more than Ereck Flowers, they will be a concern until they aren’t.

If the Giants can be patient, create and exploit those mismatches, and out-wait the Jags, they’ll have a shot. But this has the look of a team that will be defined by big plays — the question is whether they will make more of them than will be made on them.

Final score: Jaguars 27, Giants 24

Dan Pizzuta

We really have no idea what the Giants are going to look like on either side of the ball. New schemes and new players on both sides, with little shown in the preseason with everything together. The whole offense has yet to play together in a game situation. The defense will start the year not playing together with Olivier Vernon out with an ankle injury. For a team that’s going to rely so much on its stars, that’s not a great start.

The Jaguars are going to have the advantage on both sides of the ball. Jacksonville’s defense was the best in the league last season. They have two great corners that ease responsibilities for the safeties. They have fast linebackers who can cover and get up the field. The defense creates pressure by rushing just four more than any other team in the league. Against an offensive line that has four new players and one in a new position, that line could disrupt everything the Giants plan to do on offense no matter how good the game plan might be.

Jacksonville’s key to winning last season was jumping out to an early lead and sitting on it — the had the sixth-highest average lead per offensive play in 2017.. Blake Bortles had an adjusted yards per attempt of 9.01 in the first quarter then didn’t top 8.0 in any other quarter. With depth in the secondary and pass rush a question, the Jaguars could be in position to get out to that early lead and give them the advantage to play from ahead for the rest of the game.

Final score: Jaguars 21, Giants 17

Patricia Traina

If there is one thing I’m guilty of, it’s being an eternal optimist.

I look at the changes made on this Giants roster—and we’re talking the WHOLESALE changes that many people were hoping for following a 3-13 season—and I’m loving what I see. I see a group of professional football players with the right attitude, who pay attention to detail and who are hungry to win.

I also see a group of guys who, while cognizant of what happened to this team last season, are determined to do something about restoring the pride in this organization that last year slipped away when the team went into self-survival mode.

With all that said, I’m also a realist. I have questions just like anyone else. Has the Giants defense jelled? Do they have a solution for their return game? Is the offensive line going to be as good as it looks on paper?

We’ll get answers to those questions over the coming weeks but as far as this week is concerned, I do like a lot of the match-ups in this game, and I do think the Giants can not only keep it competitive, but can come out with the upset win.

Final score: Giants 24, Jaguars 21

Andrea Hangst

There is little to indicate that the Giants will have another disastrous, 3-13 season like they experienced last year. There have been so many changes, so many of them that appear to be upgrades, that the Giants look ready to compete in a crowded NFC field. But those changes take time to take hold, and their Week 1 meeting with the Jaguars will be a test of how truly ready this team really is.

Things will come together for the Giants over the course of the season, but this Sunday’s game doesn’t look like a win for New York. Jacksonville has already gotten to the place that this iteration of the Giants are trying to reach—a strong running game, a guarded approach with the quarterback, an aggressive defense that emphasizes turnovers and sacks equally, a conference championship. This makes for a compelling matchup on Sunday, to be sure, and we’ll have a better idea who the 2018 Giants are after it, but Jacksonville has the edge to open the season.

Final score: Jaguars 23, Giants 13

Mark Schofield

Looking at this New York Giants’ roster and the additions that have been made, especially on the offensive side of the football, there is reason for optimism for Giants’ fans right now. But they might have to wait a week for the first victory of the season.

I’m a firm believer in helping your quarterback, and the additions of Will Hernandez, Nate Solder and Saquon Barkley, plus a healthy Odell Beckham and year two from Evan Engram give Eli Manning a ton of help. The offense will be improved over the 2017 iteration.

But it might not be improved enough to put up a lot of points on what was an extremely stout defense last season, and a historically good pass defense. The talent Jacksonville has amassed on the defensive side of the football is enough to keep the Giants’ offense in check, and give the visitors the victory.

Final score: Jaguars 21, Giants 13

Kevin Haswell

While there are high hopes for Big Blue this season, Week 1 won’t go as planned. The Jaguars defense will give the Giants offense, led by veteran Eli Manning fits. The matchup between Odell Beckham Jr. and Jalen Ramsey will be one of the best this season. While I believe it will be a close game, the Jaguars will pull it out late.

Final score: Jaguars 24, Giants 20

Joe DeLeone

While the Giants have improved tremendously since the dumpster fire that was 2017, Jacksonville is too formidable of a foe for this squad to defeat.

The Jaguars posses too many threats in their defensive lineup to counter the Giants weaknesses offensively. Any good game plan will attack the holes of an opponent, and expect Jacksonville’s Todd Wash to exploit Patrick Omameh and Ereck Flowers. Every single player on the Jaguars defensive line has Pro Bowl potential, and a struggling right side of the Giants offensive line will impact the whole game.

Defensively New York does match up well enough to keep Jacksonville out of the end zone most of the game. With Dalvin Tomlinson and Damon Harrison clogging up rushing lanes, run defense should be a strength in 2018. Expect Leonard Fournette to carry the rock 30 plus times on Sunday. New York’s ability to slow down Fournette will be imperative to their success.

I foresee this game being close and relatively low scoring considering how both team match up. However, the Jaguars will squeak by the Giants in a low scoring affair.

Final score: Jaguars 24, Giants 17

[Editor’s Note: Joe DeLeone manages Big Blue View’s Facebook page.]

Ed Valentine

There is no reason to expect the Giants to win Sunday afternoon. Jacksonville went 10-6 in 2017 and reached the AFC Championship Game. The Giants went 3-13 and went in search of their dignity. The Jaguars have what might be the best defense in football. The Giants have an offense that has never been on the field together in a game that counts. The Jaguars have zero, yes ZERO!, players on their injury report. The Giants will be without their best pass rusher, Olivier Vernon.

And yet ... and yet, I keep coming back to the video by Brett Kollmann that I referenced earlier in the week. The skill position talent possessed by the Giants is as good as that of any team in the league. That makes the Giants uniquely positioned to challenge the talented Jacksonville coverage players. For what it’s worth, Kollmann told me this week he is picking the Giants to pull the upset.

It will take more than talent to succeed against the defense known as ‘Sacksonville.’ It will take the right plan, and enough of the right plays called at the right time. Pat Shurmur brings to the Giants a reputation for being one of the best game-planners and in-game play-callers in the business. And, he’s had a few months to study for this one.

On the other side, the Jaguars were the best rushing team in football last season. They still have Leonard Fournette. They added All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell. Still, the Giants spent the offseason building a stop the run first defense, constructing what they hope will be a wall against the run. If that construction project was as successful as it appeared to have been in preseason, when we know appearances can be deceiving, the Giants are again uniquely positioned to challenge Jacksonville.

I shouldn’t do it, but I am going to drink the blue Kool-Aid this week and pick the Giants to open the season with a big-time upset.

Final score: Giants 24, Jaguars 20