Making the postseason after opening with a pair of losses is difficult. Getting there after a 0-3 start is nearly impossible. There will be a sense of urgency when two winless teams get together in Week 3. The New York Giants and Houston Texans both had aspirations of contending for a playoff spot after woeful showings in 2017 that saw them combine for seven victories. The G-Men are trying to put the mess created by former coach Ben McAdoo behind them, but the criticism of Eli Manning has increased following another poor performance in Dallas last week.
Watch this Week 3 regular season matchup live on Sunday, September 23, 2018, at 1 p.m. ET at NRG Stadium.
NFL Opening Odds at BookMaker.eu
New York Giants +5.5
Houston Texans -5.5
The line has bounced around a bit since opening at Houston -6. It was wagered up a half-point to -6.5 before settling at the current number. The Texans are getting a majority of the early play so this spread will continue to move through the week. The teams have combined to cash the under in every game this season and the total came down from its opening of 42 to the current 41.
Jon Halapio – For the first time in a few years the Giants made an attempt to upgrade their offensive line. Nate Solder was acquired in free agency and Will Hernandez was taken in the draft. A revelation was the play of center Halapio, who earned the job over the summer. The Giants will turn to someone else now after Halapio was lost for the season with a broken ankle. The Giants allowed six sacks to Dallas and failed to create running from for Saquon Barkley, who managed 28 of their 35 rushing yards.
Olivier Vernon – The Giants made a number of changes on defense with the hope of improving a group that wasn’t good last year. Vernon is a key member of the unit, but he’s yet to play due to a lingering ankle injury. Vernon had seven sacks last season and is the Giants best pass rusher. Without him they failed to record a sack last week and have just one sack on the season.
Matchup to Watch
The Giants invested the No. 2 overall pick in the draft on the best running back, but even with Barkley they’ve struggled on the ground. That hasn’t been the case for the Texans, who lead the NFL with an average of 157.5 rushing yards per game. Houston ran for 167 yards against the Patriots in the opener with Lamar Miller going for 98. Miller had 68 of the Texans 148 rushing yards last week against Tennessee.
We haven’t seen the dynamic passing attack from Watson that enthralled the NFL during his time last season. Rather the Texans have used the run game to a degree of success. It hasn’t produced a win yet this season, but they’ve been able to control the game. The Giants will have to slow down the attack and that could be a problem with a defense that ranks 28th against the run. The Giants allowed 138 yards to the Cowboys on Sunday, a week after giving up 137 yards.
8 – J.J. Watt is licking his chops in anticipation of Sunday’s game. The Texans have only three sacks on the season and Watt has been held out of the stat column. In fact, Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus have yet to record a sack in the early going.
That could change on Sunday, though. The Giants allowed six sacks to the Cowboys last week and the line will be without its starting center. The inability to run the football has again forced the G-Men into too many passing downs and Manning isn’t nimble enough to escape the pocket. He’s been sacked eight times through two weeks, the fourth-highest total in the NFL.
Free ATS Pick
The same problems that hounded the Giants last season are still affecting them in the early going. Outside of a long run by Barkley in the opener, they’ve been ineffective running the ball, Manning looks old and tired behind center and the defense can’t get off the field. The big play ability is there, but they haven’t been able to hit on their shots.
And the Texans aren’t going to let the Giants off the hook since they have worries of their own. Houston is a few plays away from being undefeated so they aren’t as bad as the record indicates, and they will unleash Watson after punishing New York with a stiff ground game. That balance keeps the G-Men off balance and leads to a Texans cover.
NFL Betting Odds: Texans 28, Giants 17
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