Keidel: Giants Have Chance To Gain Some Respect Vs. Bills

Big Blue Hosts Buffalo Sunday At MetLife

Jason Keidel
September 13, 2019 - 11:34 am
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With the NFL schedule split into 16 pillars, each game a fever-pitched fight for playoff position, fortunes can flip every week. 

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Before the season, the Jets were the "it" team at the Meadowlands — with a new coach, maturing quarterback and an All-Pro running back ready to make a bold surge into the bold ink. 

Then Sunday happened. The Jets choked, half their roster seemed to get hurt, they cut another kicker and now their future franchise QB has the kissing disease. Just like that, Gang Green has opened a lane for Big Blue to return to the top half of the back page. If the Giants can do what the Jets didn't — beat the Bills, at home —- then the G-Men will be squared away at 1-1 and way more hopeful than the forlorn Jets, who may have lost their season when Sam Darnold contracted mononucleosis, leaving them with Trevor Siemian under center. 

Was it better to get clobbered by the Cowboys than gag a game to the Bills? Surely. No one expected the Giants to win. They were on the road, against a clear playoff contender, and got predictably squashed. Plus it was the farthest from home the Giants will play all season. Big Blue only has one more game in another time zone, when they travel to Chicago to face the Bears in Week 12. 

Eli Manning and Saquon Barkley
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Images

The Giants have two healthy, quality quarterbacks, film on Bills QB Josh Allen, who committed four first-half turnovers — a feat not achieved since Nathan Peterman committed five at San Diego in 2017 — and can better prep for a Bills pass rush that haunted Darnold all game.

The Bills only won two road games all last year — one against the Jets, of course — and haven't won consecutive road games since October 2016. In weeks 4 and 5, they beat the Patriots and Rams, back when the Rams had just moved from Missouri, were starting Case Keenum at quarterback and had Jeff Fisher as their head coach. 

The Giants have the twin-edges of being the hungrier team and playing before their own fans. Plus, the Bills are favored by 2½ points, an acute insult to the home club. And Buffalo would have been far more ornery had they not toppled the Jets in Week 1. 

Despite his hulking physique and absurd athletic talent, Allen is far from a polished quarterback. He would have thrown three interceptions last week — to go with his two fumbles — had Darryl Roberts not been flagged for holding nowhere near the actual play. 

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The Giants will have to shore up their rather elastic defense, which barely got a paw on the QB last week, making Dak Prescott look like Dan Marino. Prescott threw for 256 first-half yards, the most of any first half in his NFL career. It even surpassed his per-game average in 2018. Allen is not as mature or accomplished as Prescott, nor do the Bills have anyone like Ezekiel Elliott running the ball or anyone like Amari Cooper catching it. 

Other than Devin Singletary's 70 yards last week, the Bills got just 58 yards on 21 combined rushes from Allen and the Mesozoic Frank Gore. And their best receiver is Cardinals and Ravens retread John Brown, who somehow torched the Jets with seven catches for 123 yards and a touchdown. Brown has totaled more than 750 yards and six touchdowns for a season just once in his career (2015). 

The Bills may be improved, but only results can prove it, and they have a most forlorn recent history. Buffalo has been to one playoff game this century, during which they scored three points. They haven't won a playoff game since 1995. They lost a game, and their soul, in Nashville in 1999, also billed the "Music City Miracle." Sean McDermott is their 11th coach since that game against the Titans. And they haven't had a proven franchise quarterback since Jim Kelly retired in 1996, with 21 starting QBs since. And they've had three winning seasons — all 9-7 — since '99.  

That's who the Bills are. Not the Marv Levy machine led by Kelly and the nuclear K-Gun offense, with Hall of Famers freckling the roster. It's been over two decades since Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed and Bruce Smith sent cold chills up arms of NFL players. The Giants aren't the same, either. Their defense was shredded by the Cowboys last week. They invested seven of 10 draft picks on defense, and it will take time for those players to mature. They don't have to be great to beat the Bills, but they need to be better than they were a week ago. 

On Sunday the Giants can remind the Bills who really owns MetLife Stadium. Big Blue also has a fine chance to bag a win, gain some respect and return to life above the fold. 

Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel.