It’s time for the Snoopy Bowl, which means the Jets and Giants are getting close to regular season action.
Giants head coach Ben McAdoo gave his starters a pretty long look against the Browns on Monday and will do so again against the Jets on Saturday at MetLife Stadium as they try to solve some kinks before the start of the season.
And there are plenty of kinks to work out. Let’s get started:
WILL THE GIANTS SCORE A TOUCHDOWN?
The Giants starters have played just two quarters through the first two preseason games, but it’s still a little worrisome that Big Blue has not scored a touchdown all preseason, especially with the offense coming off a season in which it struggled to score.
It’s unclear if Eli Manning will have all his weapons at his disposal because of injuries to Brandon Marshall and Odell Beckham Jr., but regardless of who is on the field, the Giants starting quarterback can ease many concerns if he leads a drive — or two — into the end zone against a Jets defense with plenty of good, young talent.
What would also help them find the end zone is holding onto the ball. Sterling Shepard cost the Giants with a fumble on Monday that led to a touchdown for the Browns, while Geno Smith threw an interception on the Cleveland 3-yard line.
WILL THE RUNNING GAME STEP UP?
Scoring a touchdown does not solely lie on the shoulders of Manning and his receivers; the running game needs to do its job and through two games this preseason they have not.
None of the Giants rushers have done much to stand out. Against the Steelers they combined for 73 yards on 23 carries and managed just 65 yards on 20 carries against a meager Browns defense.
Presumed starter Paul Perkins is perhaps the biggest concern, rushing for just three and 10 yards, respectively, in the first two games.
POSSIBLE O-LINE CHANGES
One thing that can help the running game get going is the offensive line, which continues to be a weak spot for the Giants.
While McAdoo said he has not lost confidence in anyone on the line, he did tinker with the lineup a bit in practice this week, playing backup center/guard Brett Jones with the first team for some reps at right guard on Wednesday. However, the full first team was back intact on Thursday.
The O-line will also have their work cut out for them by going up against Sheldon Richardson, Leonard Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson.
Wilkerson vs. Justin Pugh will also be a matchup to keep an eye on after the Jets defensive end called Pugh out for a tweet that insinuated nobody buys Jets gear.
BRANDON MARSHALL-JETS FIREWORKS?
It seems as if the Marshall-Richardson feud has cooled off lately, with Marshall calling it “dead” and Richardson saying he “doesn’t care” about playing against his former teammate.
Marshall may not even get a chance to be on the field, either, as he continues to recover from a shoulder injury he sustained against the Browns.
While Marshall did not practice all week, McAdoo still would not definitively rule him out of Saturday’s game.
It doesn’t seem likely Marshall will play, but in the long shot that he does it will be interesting to see if there’s any more fireworks between him and Richardson.
GENO SMITH-JETS REUNION
One thing we do know for sure is that Smith will play against his former team.
In fact, the stakes are pretty high for Smith, who could take the reins as the frontrunner to become Manning’s backup with a good performance against the Jets.
Smith has put up relatively decent numbers through his first two preseason games — completing 21 of 33 passes — but his costly turnovers have negated almost all the good things he’s shown, making the backup quarterback competition with Josh Johnson fair game.
While Smith said he has nothing to prove against his former team, a turnover-free game could go a long way to proving something to his current team.
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