Aside from Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr., the New York Giants will need several players to step up if they’re going to upset the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY—We’ll find out right away how much the New York Giants have improved since last season as they take on the defending AFC South Division Champions Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday at MetLife Stadium in the season opener.
The Jaguars are one of the favorites to represent the AFC in Super Bowl 53 and they have six players on defense that made the Pro Bowl last season.
So it will take a total team effort for the New York Giants to upset the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. But as the case is with all games, several key players will be X-Factors in determining who will win.
Here are the X-Factors for the New York Giants in their matchup against the Jaguars:
Much of the attention surrounding this game will be Jaguars All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey being matchup against Odell Beckham Jr. Ramsey has been brash over the past several weeks as it seems as if he’s called out half the league. But the Jaguars have another elite cornerback in Second-Team All-Pro A.J. Bouye.
The 6-foot, 191-pound Bouye did not give up a touchdown last regular season and will be matched up at times against Sterling Shepard, but will primarily be covering one of the Giants free agent acquisitions Cody Latimer when he’s lined up outside.
The 6-foot-2, 217-pound Latimer is a great compliment to the smaller Beckham and Shepard. He also has the speed to get behind the defense as we saw in the Giants preseason game against the Jets when he caught a 54-yard bomb from Eli Manning.
— New York Giants (@Giants) August 25, 2018
The Jaguars defensive backs like to get physical with receivers and Latimer has the size and strength to match their physicality and win the 50-50 balls.
Latimer is also listed as the team’s primary kickoff returner on their depth chart, and in a game that should be close a big kick return could be the key that swings the game in the Giants favor.
One of the acquistions Dave Gettleman made to bolster the offensive line was signing right guard Patrick Omameh. Omameh spent the previous two seasons with the Jaguars and started 13 games for the Jaguars last season at left guard, but the Giants converted him to right guard.
He has struggled mightily this preseason as Pro Football Focus gave him the lowest grade of the Giants starting offensive line with a grade of 45.6.
Here are the #Giants starting offensive line overall grades from this preseason:
LT Solder- 80.8
LG Hernandez- 69.7
C Halapio- 57.5
RG Omameh- 45.6
RT Flowers- 62.5#BigBlue
— PFF NY Giants (@PFF_Giants) September 2, 2018
On Sunday, he’ll be matched up against Pro Bowl defensive tackle Malik Jackson. It’s imperative that Omameh performs better on Sunday to open holes for Saquon Barkley and to keep Manning upright as the Jaguars were second in the league last year with 55 sacks.
Omameh and Jackson are familiar with each other from going against one another in practice over the last two seasons and the Giants will need Omameh to hold his own in this one on one matchup if they’re going to be able to move the ball against Jacksonville.
Alec Ogletree and B.J. Goodson
The Jaguars offensive game plan is simple: pound the ball with running back Leonard Fournette. The Jaguars had the number one rushing attack in the league last season averaging 141.4 yards per game, and they’ll look to pick up where they left off on.
The Giants are going to need for their two inside linebackers Alec Ogletree and B.J. Goodson to have solid games on Sunday and contain the Jaguars ground game. The strength of the Giants defense is their rush defense and we saw this play out in the preseason as they held their first three opponents to 61 yards rushing a game
Containing the Jags ground game won’t be easy as they added All-Pro left tackle Andrew Norwell in the offseason.
If Ogletree, Goodson and the rest of the Giants defense can contain or shutdown Fournette and force Blake Bortles to beat them, it bodes well for the Giants chances of winning.