NFL 2019 (Week 6): New York Giants at New England Patriots

Russell S. Baxter

NFL 2019 (Week 6): New York Giants at New England Patriots

By Jesse Pierson

Special to Pro Football Guru

As the defending Super Bowl champions, no one is doubting the ability of the New England Patriots. With that being said, we may not know what these 2019 Patriots are truly capable of, as they have only been tested once in five games: a 16-10 defensive slugfest in Buffalo. The average score of their other four games – against the Steelers, Jets, Dolphins, and Redskins – is 34.8 to 6. Are they simply that much better than everyone? Perhaps, but those opponents hardly constitute a murderer's row to start the season, either. Until proven otherwise, the road to a title still goes through Foxboro. Twice in the Belichick-Brady era, the road to a title hit a “Giant” speedbump, losing both Super Bowl XLII and Super Bowl XLVI to Eli Manning's G-Men in dramatic fashion. Manning is still around, although now he is serving as a backup to rookie first-rounder Daniel Jones. Jones has acquitted himself fairly well, winning games against Tampa Bay and Washington before coming back down to earth Sunday in a 28-10 loss to Minnesota. His 64 percent completion rate thus far is respectable, but it will certainly face a test against Stephon Gilmore and the McCourty brothers Thursday night.

Giants: The good news is that Jones has some decent weapons around him in running back Saquon Barkley, tight end Evan Engram and wide receiver Sterling Shepard. The bad news is that all three of those players are out of this game with various injuries. To make matters worse, even Barkley's backup Wayne Gallman is suffering from a concussion and will not play. Conventional wisdom would suggest that the Giants' best tactic is to run the ball, play solid defense, and hope that the Patriots play a substandard brand of football. With only third-string running back Jonathan Hilliman and fullback Eli Penny available for carries, that plan seems iffy. Jones will have to make plays with his arm and his legs against arguably the league's best defense. Welcome to the NFL, young man.

Patriots: Tom Brady has a wealth of targets in his own right, but even his are dealing with injuries. Receiver Phillip Dorsett will not play, while Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, and running back Rex Burkhead are all questionable. Unlike New York, the Patriots have depth at nearly every offensive skill position, and Sony Michel, James White, and Brandon Bolden are more than capable of shouldering the load in Burkhead's potential absence. However, those three receivers are Brady's top targets this year, combining for 63 catches and six touchdowns. As they showed in the playoffs (and have over the past two decades), the Pats are more than comfortable lining up with two tight ends and a fullback while simply handing off 40 times. If by some relative miracle they are forced to pass, expect White to play a key role out of the backfield.

Prediction: Belichick puts together a defensive package to confound Jones all night long, leaving him susceptible to sacks and interceptions. The Giants put together a small rally to make it competitive for a turn, but the host Patriots are simply too strong to hang with this undermanned New York team.

New England Patriots 35, New York Giants 14

Jesse Pierson (@jessetpierson) is a former teacher and high school football coach who has written about the Colts for over a decade. He loves football, dogs, food, and comedy, and you can follow his work on his Facebook page, Jesse Pierson, Mediocre Writer.

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