The Bills head back to MetLife Stadium this Sunday seeking their first championship since 1993 with the coveted Jimmy Hoffa Trophy on the line (you know, the large, well very large, concrete block) given to the New Jersey NFL champions.
After dispatching the Jersey Jets in thrilling fashion last Sunday, the Jersey G-Men await. The once proud Giants have floundered of late, but likely will not want to disappoint in their home opener nor relinquish the coveted Hoffa trophy they have earned by being the original and prime tenant of the ‘Meadowlands’ (till the interloping Jets moved in as subtenants).
Ok. It’s quiz time. I’m going to list the stats of 2 players from last week and a team stat and you tell me who it is. (No fair cheating by Googling it). Player 1 had 11 rushes for 120 yards and player 2 had 30 completions in 44 attempts for 306 yards. Their team had 494 total yards and they lost by 18. If you guessed Saquon Barkley, Eli Manning and the Giants, you are correct.
Now I know “stats are for losers.” I get that. But what it should tell you is that is still a dangerous team. The Cowboys, hate them though I do, have a very good defense and played at home. 494 yards is a LOT of yards.
Is Eli Manning what he used to be? No of course not (especially with that fork most Giant fans have planted firmly in his back the last couple of years thinking he was done).
Is Saquon Barkley the best running back and receiving back in the NFL? I think one could make the argument. In any event, you get the idea. Don’t look past this team because they can be dangerous enough to do damage. Besides, the “process” demands one game at a time, one play at time approach to things and this team is in graduate work on “process,” especially on defense.
On to the things I’m looking for in the game:
- The “good” Josh Allen for 60 full minutes. No more channeling Nate Peterman, nice fellow that he is and who we wish nothing but the best for. See below for a good reason why.
- The Cowboys had 89 yards rushing on 30 carries vs the Giants, including only 53 yards for Zeke Elliott. This just in: that’s not very much. They did, however, throw for 405 yards and 4 TDs, without being sacked or having an INT. Sounds like a great time for Allen to make hay! (though every week seems to be completely different in the NFL, so maybe the Bills will run the ball like crazy and to good effect).
- I want to see the tight ends continue to factor into the passing game. Tommy Sweeney continues to make good catches and blocks and is proving to be quite a find as a 7th round pick. I’m hoping Dawson Knox joins the party.
- From looking at some of the tape and commentary others have shared, it sure seems like the Bills are not going to take Jon Feliciano out at right guard any time soon. he was a monster and mauler who brings a great deal of compete to the party. Cody Ford is going to have to share time with Ty Nsekhe if he wants to get on the field (barring injury of course).
- I LOVED LOVED LOVED seeing the Bills pull guards, tackles and the center on running plays last week! My God, it’s been a little bit since the whole line was athletic enough to do that! Can a well executed screen pass be far behind? I might swoon or faint outright.
- Keep attacking on D. I liked their QB pressure on Darnold last week. It was relentless. Manning is not mobile but is a veteran and can get the ball out faster than Darnold so pressure has to be timed well. With pressure up the middle like he exerted last week, Ed Oliver your first sack awaits you! The Giants do not have a ton of deep threat wideouts so I expect them to have short timed routes and tighter coverage might be in order. Keeping hands up by the D line might yield more batted passes if that is the case.
- I just want to see the D be as sharp as it was last week. They may have struggled at times with tackling Le’Veon Bell in space but they were sure in tackling the wideouts. Slack play and bad tackling against Saquon Barkley ends up in touchdowns in a hurry.
- Force turnovers! They are due for some. With all the batted balls last week, Allen’s went right to someone for a pick but Darnold’s fell harmlessly. They are due for some bounces to go their way.
Can the Bills put 2 consistent road games together? If so, 2-0 with 2 road victories would be a tremendous start to 2019! Not to mention getting to lug the Hoffa trophy to Canalside for a One Buffalo celebration.
Editor’s babble: The Bills have always had trouble against the Giants no matter what the team records might be at any given point in time. However, this Bills team seems mentally prepared to avoid a let down. Thanks to Joe Tauriello for his insightful contributions to our blog. You can find Joe on Twitter @Joe_Tauriello.