On paper, the New York Giants seem completely outclassed by the New England Patriots. The 5-0 Patriots are the lone undefeated team left in the AFC, outscoring opponents by a whopping 121 points (155-34). It’s the second-best scoring margin since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, trailing only the “Greatest Show on Turf” 1999 Rams.
The Pats’ last regular-season home loss came back in the 2017 season, making Gillette Stadium their personal playground to bully opponents into submission. The Giants come in with a rookie quarterback in Daniel Jones starting just the fourth game of his career. Their best player, Saquon Barkley, appears unlikely to return from a high ankle sprain that’s sidelined him.
But if there’s one team that has the Pats’ number, it’s the Giants. They’re the only team to own two Super Bowl victories over this 21st century NFL dynasty, including an upset that ruined a 2007-08 bid for a perfect season. Eli Manning (now the Giants backup) may base his NFL Hall of Fame candidacy on the way he outgunned Tom Brady in those signature moments.
Can Jones follow in his footsteps and pull off one of the biggest upsets in NFL regular-season history? The Giants are currently 16.5-point underdogs and that number is expected to climb if Barkley remains sidelined entering Thursday’s contest.
New York at New England
Kickoff: Thursday, Oct. 10 at 8:20 p.m. ET
TV: FOX/NFL Network
Spread: Patriots -16.5
Three Things to Watch
- Paying homage to the Patriots’ defense
For years, the Patriots rode to Super Bowl victories behind the arm of Tom Brady. Brady’s doing just fine this season (10 TDs, 2 INTs, 99.4 passer rating), defying Father Time at 42 years old. But it’s the defense that has turned heads, easily the best of head coach Bill Belichick’s tenure in New England.
Through five games, this unit leads the league with just 6.8 points allowed. Only 10 of those points have come in the first half; the Redskins last week are the only team to score on the Patriots in the first quarter. It’s allowed the team to take a halftime lead into every contest and never pivot from their offensive game plan.
This unit leads the league in yards per game allowed (238.4), passing yards allowed (160.4) and sacks per pass attempt (13.41 percent). Perhaps most importantly, they’re only allowing opponents to convert 12.7 percent of their third-down opportunities! That averages out to only one of every eight attempts. So if you don’t move the ball quickly on the Patriots… you’re punting.
The defense leads the league in interceptions (11), helping create a turnover margin of plus-seven that’s tied for the league lead. Devin McCourty and Jamie Collins are 1-2 in the league with seven picks between them; that’s more than any other NFL team has snagged all season.
- Can Sony Michel continue to re-emerge?
In a game likely to become a blowout early, much of the focus could shift not to the Giants’ running game but the Patriots’. Saquon Barkley, despite chirping on NFL Network earlier this week that he could play, appears unlikely to be a part of this game. It’s just too soon to even be cleared for game action from a high ankle sprain that typically takes a minimum of four weeks to heal.