Following a hard-fought 20-19 victory over the rival Dallas Cowboys in Week 1, the New York Giants enter their home opener with a winning record for the first time in a long time. Big Blue didn’t have its best game against the Cowboys, but the improvement over last year’s squad was easy to see.
Meanwhile, the New Orleans Saints will look to avenge a tough Week 1 loss to the Oakland Raiders and rain on the Giants’ parade.
Can the Giants start the season with a 2-0 record for the first time in years, or will the Saints march out of MetLife Stadium with a win? Kickoff is set for Sunday at 1:00 on FOX.
New York Giants: Offense
For the most part, the Giants’ offense looked formidable against the Cowboys. Eli Manning was his usual reliable self, completing 68% of his passes for 207 yards and 3 touchdowns, good for a 110.3 passer rating.
His wideout weapons were as advertised. The trio of Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, and Victor Cruz was too much for the Cowboys to handle, as all 3 had productive games. Tight ends Larry Donnell and Will Tye are sturdy options, and Shane Vereen and Rashad Jennings are plus check-down options.
However, the main impact of Jennings and Vereen can be found in the rushing attack. They tallied a combined 113 yards on the ground last week and ripped off numerous big gains. If the offensive line, which played surprisingly well in Week 1, can keep up its level of play, the entire offense will jell.
New Orleans Saints: Offense
For the better part of 10 years, the New Orleans Saints have always been one of the NFL’s most dangerous offenses. The Giants experienced this firsthand last year, when they lost a heartbreaker by a score of 52-49.
Drew Brees is in his 16th NFL season, but he is just as good as he ever was. The surefire Hall of Famer is always a threat to chuck the deep ball, and his mid-range passes are always on the money.
Of course, when wide receivers Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead IV, and Michael Thomas are your primary targets, they’ll make any quarterback look good. The Giants will have their hands full when dealing with the Saints’ own trio of wideouts.
Mark Ingram Jr., the son of former Giant wideout Mark Ingram, is a powerful rusher and a receiving safety net for Brees. Don’t sleep on tight end Coby Fleener, who had a poor Week 1 showing but is a red zone threat.
New York Giants: Defense
While they were only facing a rookie quarterback and a rookie running back, the Giants’ coaching staff had to be pleased with the effort of their defense in Week 1. The pass rush didn’t get a sack, but they were consistently in Dak Prescott’s face and limited the impact that Ezekiel Elliott could have out of the backfield.
Facing a much weaker offensive line than the vaunted Cowboys’ unit could bode well for the Big Blue Wrecking Crew.
The play of the linebackers, led by Jonathan Casillas, was a pleasant surprise last week, as was the performance of the secondary. Of course Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins had big games, but seeing young guns Eli Apple, Darian Thompson, and Nat Berhe excel had to make GM Jerry Reese feel good.
The Saints are a much better offensive team than the Cowboys though, so the defense will have its work cut out for them.
New Orleans Saints: Defense
Much like how the Saints’ offense has been consistently potent over the years, their defense has typically always been subpar. Aside from Pro Bowl end Cameron Jordan, the pass rush is largely nonexistent, which should be a good matchup for the Giants’ offensive line.
Linebacker Dannell Elerbe will miss Sunday’s game, which could lead to more snaps for DE/LB hybrid Paul Kruger. The Saints will also be without their top corner, Delvin Breaux, which will leave inexperienced members of the secondary in coverage against the Giants’ dangerous receivers.
The Saints’ untimely injuries on defense could be good news for the Giants.
New York Giants: Special Teams
After a lackluster kicking performance in Week 1, Randy Bullock was released by the Giants, who will welcome back Josh Brown to kick. Punter Brad Wing and snapper Zak DeOssie didn’t have their best weeks last time around; they will be eager for redemption on Sunday.
Dwayne Harris only returned 2 kicks and 1 punt against the Cowboys last week. The Giants hope to see him more active this week.
New Orleans Saints: Special Teams
The Saints shook up their special teams by going with undrafted rookie kicker Wil Lutz this year over the more experienced Kai Forbath and Connor Barth. Lutz missed a potential game-winning 61 yard field goal in last week’s contest, but that shouldn’t carry over with him in Week 2.
Snapper Justin Drescher and punter Thomas Morstead have been in place for 7 and 8 seasons, respectively and aren’t going anywhere. Return specialist Marcus Murphy is a dangerous player that the Giants will have to keep tabs on.
The X-Factor for this week’s matchup could very well be the injury bug. The Giants and Saints are two pretty evenly matched teams on paper, but the Giants’ health could lead them to a much-needed win. It’ll likely be a high-scoring shootout, but the Giants should come out on top at home.