The Giants exit the bye week and host the Texans at MetLife Stadium this Sunday afternoon.
Despite Houston owning the NFL’s worst record (1-6-1), this is a huge matchup for Brian Daboll’s team.
The Giants must continue to stack up wins before facing the Cowboys, Eagles (twice), and Vikings in the final seven games. They cannot find themselves in an eventual position where they need a late-season win over a top NFC squad to lock up a playoff spot. They also can’t lose ground in the NFC Wild Card race (2.5 games up).
No matter how you look at it, Sunday is a must-win game.
Giants vs Texans
When: Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022.
Where: MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET.
Giants’ keys to victory
Ground game. The Texans sport the NFL’s worst run defense by a significant margin. They’re allowing 180.6 rushing yards per game, which is 31.8 more average yards than the next-worst team (Lions).
The Giants must exploit this and continue to make running back Saquon Barkley an enormous part of the offense.
Spread the field. Wide receiver Kenny Golladay (returning from a knee injury) has the chance to produce for one of the first times all season. Darius Slayton and rookie Wan’Dale Robinson will also be active for this depleted receiver room.
In order to overwhelm the middle-of-the-road Texans secondary (19th with 217.5 passing yards allowed per game), quarterback Daniel Jones must involve various weapons in the passing game.
Protection. But in order for Jones to even succeed through the air, this offensive line (without right tackle Evan Neal and left guard Ben Bredeson) will need to keep him upright. The Texans’ pass rush is fairly strong and ranks 13th in the league with a 42% pass rush win rate according to ESPN. Thus, a potential challenge awaits for New York.
Dane Belton and Jason Pinnock will be our co-X-factors for the week.
The pair of young safeties are assuming larger roles against Houston in the absence of Xavier McKinney. The primary starter and defensive captain is on the non-football injury list after injuring his hand in a bye-week ATV accident.
Belton, Pinnock, and also Julian Love (who will take on the play-calling duties) must prevent Texans quarterback Davis Mills from exploiting this obvious void in the secondary.
Did you know?
The Giants were a 10-6 playoff team back in 2002 while the Texans were a 4-12 laughing stock in their debut NFL season.
Yet, the latter somehow won the matchup between the two — the Texans defeated the Giants 16-14 in Week 12 of that season. Former Giants quarterback Kerry Collins threw for a touchdown and two picks in the game while running back Tiki Barber ran for 147 yards and one score.
The Giants have not lost to the Texans since, and are 4-1 against them overall.
Coming off a Week 9 loss to the Seahawks, the Giants must defeat the Texans and Lions over the next two weeks before enduring a tough final stretch of games.
Luckily, I think Big Blue gets the job done this Sunday.
The Giants will be without McKinney, sure. But this defense won’t need to stress too much going against a 26th-ranked Texans passing attack (188.6 yards per game), especially with cornerbacks Adoree’ Jackson and Fabian Moreau playing well.
Daboll will also likely stick to a run-heavy game plan, with Barkley looking like his rookie-year self and Houston’s defense struggling in that department.
All in all, expect the Giants to score enough points to take pressure off their defense, which won’t have a huge challenge anyway. Giants 24, Texans 13.