Expectations were not very high for the New York Giants and Houston Texans at the start of the 2014 NFL season, after both teams missed the playoffs a year ago. While one team has been impressive before their Week 3 matchup, the other is headed in the wrong direction.
The Giants have looked no better than they did in their 0-6 start to the 2013 season, losing by double-digits in their first two games. The Texans look much improved from the team that finished last year with the NFL’s worst record, beating the Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders by a combined 27 points.
New York brought in Ben McAdoo to replace Kevin Gilbride as the team’s offensive coordinator, after ranking 28th at just 18.4 points per game. The revamped offense has performed even worse in 2014, scoring just 14 points in each game.
Eli Manning’s interception rate continues to be a problem, as the quarterback has thrown four picks this season. With the departure of Hakeem Nicks, New York’s wide receiving corps is lacking in depth, and Victor Cruz leads the group with just seven catches for 84 yards.
Houston’s biggest issue last season was turnovers, and the team ranked last in the league with a differential of minus-19. This year, the Texans have almost done a complete 180-degree turnaround, ranking second at plus-5. Starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has yet to throw an interception, ranking second with a 118.4 passer rating, behind only Peyton Manning.
Arian Foster’s performance has been another major difference from last year. In 2013, injuries limited the running back to just eight games. Entering Week 3, only one running back has totaled more than his 241 yards on the ground.
Foster could have another big day on Sunday, but the game at MetLife Stadium could be decided by the two quarterbacks. After losing David Wilson in the preseason, the Giants have failed to establish a consistent running game with Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams, who’ve combined for just 2.8 yards per carry. Fitzpatrick could find success against a Giants secondary that was expected to be a strength of the team, but ranks just 21st in passing yards allowed.
The No.1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft will be sidelined again, as Texans linebacker Jadeveon Clowney recovers from his knee injury. Giants linebacker Jon Beason was expected to miss the game with a foot injury, but the team is still holding out hope that he’ll be able to suit up. Rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. remains out for New York.
Houston finds themselves favored for a third straight game, just as New Yorkhas been named the underdog for a third consecutive time. The Texans covered the spread in Weeks 1 and 2, while the Giants are one of six teams that are 0-2 against the spread in 2014. The betting line has New York getting two points.
The over/under of 41.5 points is tied for the lowest on the Week 3 schedule. The Giants have the No.30 offense in the NFL, and the Texans scored just four offensive touchdowns in their first two games.
Prediction: It’s not looking good for the Giants, who were beaten at home in Week 2 by a quarterback who hadn’t played in four years. Manning continues to throw interceptions, and when he is accurate, New York’s receivers have had trouble holding onto the ball. Houston might be overvalued, having beaten two teams that combined for seven wins last year, but New York does not look like a team that can beat an opponent that doesn’t make many mistakes.
Predicted Score: Houston 23, New York 17