A quick history lesson is for all those elated over the Giants’ 2-0 start. In their last 10 night games, they are 0-10. That includes 0-6 on Monday nights, 0-3 on Thursday nights, and 0-1 on Sunday nights. Daniel Jones is 0-8 as a part of that 0-10 under-the-lights history.
Need we get into the details, such as the Washington Football Team’s do-over last-second field goal that sent Big Blue to a 30-29 loss in Week 2 a year ago? The Giants appeared to have that one won when kicker Dustin Hopkins missed a last-play field goal. But he got a second chance because defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence lined up offsides, and the litany of incredibly horrifying Giants losses added a new chapter.
But that was last year, and that loss made them 0-2.
This year, they are 2-0 despite some atrocious first-half offensive performances (no first-half points at Tennessee, six vs. Carolina), and they are facing a Cowboys team without quarterback Dak Prescott while starting former Giants castoff Cooper Rush at QB. Dallas is 1-1 with an NFL-low 23 points. But they did defeat a strong (despite their 0-2 start) Cincinnati Bengals team in their opener by holding the Bengals to 89 rushing yards and sacking Joe Burrow six times.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) September 24, 2022
The Giants’ defense has allowed exactly 36 points, and the Cowboys, the Buccaneers, Broncos, Jaguars, Bills and 49ers are establishing themselves as the stingiest teams to score against. Dallas has allowed only 180 passing yards per game and 120 rushing yards, similar to the Giants’ numbers of 197.5 passing yards allowed per game and 119.5 rushing yards allowed.
The over/under tonight is just 39, the lowest of the season aside from Browns-Steelers from Sunday, which went over by 6 1/2. The Giants will be wearing all-white uniforms and are encouraging their fans to dress in white clothing, which just seems more than a little silly when your team is nicknamed Big Blue.
PRIMETIME BABY pic.twitter.com/NpZRaC8JiJ
— New York Giants (@Giants) September 26, 2022
Still, those players wearing white will need to summon the same type of moxie they have displayed in their first two games to keep pace with the Philadelphia Eagles at the top of the NFC East, giving hope to those gamblers who are laying money on them at +650 to win the division. (The Eagles and Giants play each other twice over the final five games of the season).
The spread has gone from Giants -3 to Giants -1 because roughly two-thirds of the handle has come in on New York. About 61 percent of the handle on the over/under has been on the “over,” according to BetMGM.
Memo to the Giants Receivers: Do More, Fellas
Again, there are worrisome trends for all the elation over the Giants’ 2-0 start. Most prominent is the lack of production from their receiving corps. Injured wide receiver Kadarius Toney is hardly even getting on the field, and the No. 20 overall pick of the 2021 draft has zero receptions. Receiver Kenny Golladay has two receptions for 22 yards, which is not exactly living up to what the Giants thought they were getting when they signed him to a $72 million free agent contract. Darius Slayton? Zero catches. Rookie Wan’Dale Robinson, the 43rd overall pick in the most recent draft? He’s injured and inactive and has but one catch for 5 yards.
This lack of production from every receiver not named Richie James and Sterling Shepard will likely allow the Cowboys to focus their attention on limiting Saquon Barkley. He was held to three first-half rushing yards last week against the Panthers before finishing with 75. His over/under rushing yardage number is 76 1/2, down one from a week ago, and is the highest for any player on either team. That’s because Ezekiel Elliot of the Cowboys has totaled just 105 yards over two games for a Dallas team that has not yet had a rushing play go for more than 17 yards. His line is 60.5.
Most bet props for Giants-Cowboys at @BetMGM
Saquon Barkley to score 1st TD (+600)
Saquon Barkley to score anytime TD (-120)
Saquon Barkley over 22.5 receiving yards (-115) pic.twitter.com/iCZymSbHBr
— John Ewing (@johnewing) September 26, 2022
So, yes, this is shaping up as a defensive battle (unless we want to call it a Clash of the Offensively Inept). But you can cannot get odds of the game ending in a 0-0 tie because nobody is offering that, probably because there has not been a 0-0 tie in the NFL since the Lions and Giants had one in 1943.
Dallas has allowed only two touchdowns all season, so the line on Barkley scoring two TDs is +600, while Shepard’s line on the same is +2500, and James is at +3000. Jones is +175 to throw two or more TD passes, while Rush is +160. Dallas linebacker Micah Parsons, with four sacks this season and 17 in his first 18 NFL games, is -125 to have at least one.
We Continue To Await a Graham Gano for MVP Line
Giants kicker Graham Gano has a personal point total over/under of 6 1/2 after booting four field goals a week ago. But that line is a mere -125. And if you are a Giants fan, you want Gano to make his kicks; you just don’t want him to have to attempt more than two.
Still, he may have to because of the strength of the Dallas defense, which has already gone against two of the best in Joe Burrow and Tom Brady. This is a fact the Giants’ coaching staff has been focusing on over and over in the seven days of prep time since last Sunday’s win. The key mental factor the Giants have to guard against is overconfidence. They are far more accustomed to being 0-2 in recent years than 2-0, and that nighttime game stat loomed large in pregame discussions. (The Giants will play their next night game next season, presumably. This is their only primetime appearance.)
Dallas, on the other hand, is slated for three more games under the lights. Their number to emerge as Super Bowl champion is +3500, and New York’s is +7000. That is a measure of how much better they figure to be when Prescott returns from a fractured thumb three weeks from now against the Eagles.
As far as the oddsmakers are concerned, the Giants are merely a pleasant surprise … but a pleasant enough surprise to be listed as 1-point favorites. A loss tonight puts them in the same league as the Jets — a team with little-to-no hope despite the miracle they pulled off two Sundays ago in Cleveland, even with injured quarterback Zach Wilson returning. A win keeps them in elite company.
Giants coach Brian Daboll is in the honeymoon phase. But Giants fans have quick tempers, as they displayed last week when they booed the home team off the field after a TD-free first half against the Panthers. They scored 34 of their 40 points in the third and fourth quarters, which is not a formula for long-term success. Most troubling a week ago was recovering a Carolina fumble on the opening kickoff and failing to turn it into six points.
Defensive coordinator Mike Kafka has been open and honest about the read and react adjustments the coaching staff has been making at halftime. That is a testament to their dedication and ability to adjust on the fly. But these Giants have to establish some defining offensive characteristic at a certain point. Having Barkley be a steady 100-yard rusher would be a nice starting point. But having that happen against a defense as strong as the Cowboys’ is probably asking a bit much.
Will Daniel Jones Have Time?
One thing to focus on in the early going tonight is whether Jones has enough time in the pocket to eyeball as many receivers as possible, because not getting anything out of Toney and Golliday and Slayton and Robinson ain’t going to cut it throughout a 17-game season. Anybody who remembers Eli Manning ducking for a cover week after week because of a lack of pass protection will get PTSD if they see Jones having to do the same thing, so look for Daboll to try to confuse the Cowboys’ defense with a bunch of backfield motion plays before the ball is snapped.
This is a tricky one to forecast, frankly, because the Giants have been very easy to bet against for several years now, and their betting backers are a little too used to wagering on the worst possible things. This is the first season in which New Yorkers can make legal wagers on regular-season NFL games, and the nine legal sportsbooks in the Empire State have returned to flooding the airwaves with commercials (an aside: J.B. Smoove is 100X funnier than Kenny Mayne).
With Aaron Judge stuck on 60 home runs, the Jets bringing back the “Same Old” line, Nets Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant about to sabotage head coach Steve Nash, and the Knicks getting ready for their annual run of irrelevancy, the Giants are a beacon of hope. That’s unless the baseball teams can get their pitching set up for an extended postseason run (for all the hullabaloo about Judge, the Yanks need a closer and the Mets need a third reliable pitcher aside from Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer).
The Giants offer a brand of hope that New Yorkers will welcome with more warmth than what may be common at this early stage of autumn. That makes tonight’s Monday night matchup carry a little more gravity than what should be deserved for a Week 3 football game, but it is what it is. A win tonight would make the buildup to their Week 4 game against the Bears extra exciting, and then they could go to London with a chance to emerge 5-0 if they can knock off Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, who have not exactly looked like world-beaters thus far.
Only three undefeated NFL teams are remaining, and the Giants are one of them. This does not make them championship material. But for true Big Blue believers, the odds of +650 to win the division, +3000 to win the NFC, and +10000 to face the Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl all become all the more enticing if tonight goes their way.
So yes, this is a big Week 3 for the team known as Big Blue that will look so unfamiliar tonight in all-white. Time to find out if they can be as good in the first half as they have been in their second halves. If that happens, those long odds in the previous paragraph might not be such long shots after all.
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