The New York Giants will play their annual preseason game again the rival New York Jets in the Snoopy Bowl at MetLife Stadium.
The New York Giants offense has been out of sync all preseason, failing to reach the end zone in two games. Scoring a touchdown won’t be easy tonight against a tough New York Jets defense—especially since they’ll likely be without star wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall.
But there can be no excuses in a game that serves as the dress rehearsal for the regular season. With starters playing the entire first half, Eli Manning and company must get going.
Here are five things to watch for in tonight’s game, which is set to kickoff at 7 p.m. ET.
1. The Offensive Line
The performance of the offensive line has been offensive for some time now. There have been no signs of cohesion or improvement. The unit will have a tough task against the Jets front seven, which includes Sheldon Richardson, Muhammad Wilkerson, and Leonard Williams.
If the line continues to struggle after a few series, don’t be surprised if head coach Ben McAdoo decides to mix things up and bring in reserves like Brett Jones, who took some snaps with the first-string offense this week or D.J Fluker.
2. Josh Johnson and Geno Smith
The backup quarterback battle between Johnson and Smith has been tight throughout training camp. While Johnson is more familiar with the system, Smith has far more playing experience, having attempted 866 passes in the NFL to Johnson’s 177.
A case can be made for either one to be Manning’s primary backup. In an ironic twist, how Smith performs tonight against his former team will go a long way in determining if he’s on an NFL roster this season.
3. Which WR Will Step Up?
The status of both OBJ and Marshall probably won’t be known until right before kickoff, as McAdoo has yet to officially rule either one out. That said, other receivers such as Roger Lewis Jr., Tavarres King and Travis Rudolph must step up and show that they deserve to be on the roster.
If the Giants plan to keep just six receivers on the roster, that means there are just two spots open behind the four receivers who are locks to make the team—OBJ, Marshall, Sterling Shepard and Dwayne Harris. Whichever receiver(s) step up tonight will have the upper hand on the rest of the field.
4. The Running Game
You can blame the O-Line’s issues for the struggling Giants’ ground game, but no one has stepped up and shown they deserve to be the starting tailback.
Paul Perkins might be number one on the depth chart, but he’s not a lock to be the Week 1 starter. He’s averaging 1.2 yards per carry in the preseason. If one of the other backs, such as Orleans Darkwa or rookie Wayne Gallman outperforms him tonight, they could get the starting job.
If the Giants can’t move the ball on the ground, the offense is in trouble.
5. The Kicking Battle: Mike Nugent vs. Aldrick Rosas
The quest to find a quality kicker is another close battle that doesn’t seem to have a front runner. Nugent, the veteran, has 12 years of NFL experience, but Rosas, an undrafted rookie, has shown a strong leg, making field goals of 52 and 47 yards.
Often when there’s a close kicking battle between a veteran and a youngster, teams decide to go with the younger guy. If Rosas can continue to be consistent, he may have the upper hand.