The New York Giants are the surprise of the NFL with a 5-1 record after taking down the Packers and Ravens the last two weeks. Yet, they are still a 3-point underdog at many of the top-rated sportsbooks against the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-4), losers of three straight.
Are these NFL odds simply out of whack, or are there some real hidden issues with the Giants that the Jaguars can exploit? Let’s examine what would technically be an upset if the Giants move to 6-1 with a win in Jacksonville.
New York Giants vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Sunday, October 23, 2022 – 01:00 PM EDT at TIAA Bank Field
Giants Are Not Your Typical 5-1 Team
By the numbers, you would not think the Giants were a 5-1 team. They are only plus-14 in scoring differential with all their games decided by one possession. The offense has not even cracked 340 yards since the opener against Tennessee.
While Daniel Jones is up to 14th in QBR under new coach Brian Daboll, it is a down year for quarterbacks around the league. Jones is averaging 6.4 yards per attempt, which would be a career low, and he is taking a sack 10.7% of the time, which would be a career high.
So, how are the Giants 5-1? The defense has been very good but not Buffalo or San Francisco great. The Giants have just one interception on defense, and that was Lamar Jackson making a boneheaded move after recovering a fumble on Sunday. The Giants have also recovered a league-high seven fumbles, which is not something you can expect to rely on going forward. Overall, the Giants are plus-2 in turnover differential. Good, but not great.
What Are They Doing Right?
One thing the Giants are doing a great job of is running the football with Saquon Barkley, who is playing as well as ever.
But you might be surprised to know that of Barkley’s four touchdowns, the only one that came outside the 5-yard line was a 36-yard touchdown against Dallas, the team’s only loss so far. So, it is not like Barkley is doing his best Barry Sanders impersonation to hit long touchdown runs to help a struggling pass offense that has lost several wide receivers to injury.
The secret sauce for Daboll’s Giants has been winning the fourth quarter in a way we haven’t seen for the Giants since the Super Bowl-winning season in 2011.
When trailing by at least seven points in the fourth quarter, the Giants were 3-78 (.073) from 2012 through 2021, but through six games of 2022, they are 3-1 (.750) in that situation.
That is an insane stat. The even crazier part is the Giants have come back against the Titans, Packers, and Ravens. Two of those teams were No. 1 seeds last year, and the Ravens have a high standard of winning under Lamar Jackson too.
The Giants' Season So Far
In Week 1 against the Titans, the Giants had the fortunate call to go for a two-point conversion to take a 21-20 lead with just over a minute left. The Titans missed a 47-yard field goal that would have won the game. In Week 5 in London against Green Bay, the Giants were able to blitz Aaron Rodgers and knock down his last two passes in the red zone while leading 27-20. That keyed another upset win against a Green Bay team that is spiraling right now and lost to the Jets too.
In Week 6 against Baltimore, Jackson had two huge turnovers in the final minutes that iced the win for the Giants, who were down 20-10 in the quarter. But the Ravens have already blown three double-digit leads this season. Aside from those three comebacks, the Giants’ only other wins have been against terrible offenses from Carolina and Chicago. The Giants still needed a 56-yard field goal to put away the Panthers in Week 2.
So, there have been some very fortunate bounces of the ball so far, as the Giants really have not played any better than a 3-3 type of team. They also have caught the Packers and Ravens at good times as those teams are going through some rough spots.
New York’s methods of success are completely unsustainable this season, but even if the Giants are swept by the Eagles and Cowboys in the division, the schedule sets up nicely for this team to have a winning record. It just cannot let a winnable game slip away like a trip to Jacksonville.
The Jaguars Are Who We Thought They Were?
For two weeks, we thought the Jaguars were actually good again. Jacksonville beat the Colts at home for the eighth year in a row, but a 24-0 shutout was impressive. Even better, they played the Chargers in Los Angeles and won 38-10 with the offense looking great.
When you combine a Super Bowl-winning coach (Doug Pederson) with a No. 1 pick at quarterback taking a second-year leap (Trevor Lawrence), you can get a quick turnaround team that can win a division right now.
Well, it was fun while it lasted. The Jaguars even took a 14-0 lead in Philadelphia in Week 4, but that was the end of the fun. Even that lead was misleading as it took a deflected ball on a pick-six and a fortunate fumble recovery. The Jaguars lost that game, then lost a ninth-straight game to Houston by a 13-6 score and lost again in Indianapolis on Sunday after getting shredded by Matt Ryan and blowing another double-digit lead.
The Jaguars are 2-4, and Lawrence is statistically in the same mediocre ballpark as Jones for the Giants. As it turns out, beating Indy at home like the Jaguars always do isn’t as impressive as it sounds, and getting one over the Chargers when they weren’t sure if Justin Herbert would play with his rib injury looks like an outlier.
So What Should We Expect?
The Jaguars are not a terrible team this year, but we were probably too quick to say the turnaround was on. This team still has flaws and Christian Kirk has not lived up to his fast start at wide receiver. Lawrence has not been hot over the last three games.
But if the Jaguars are going to pull off this upset, it will be up the ground game that just produced 243 yards in Indianapolis despite losing 34-27. The Giants are a solid defense, but against the run, New York ranks 28th in yards allowed and 31st in yards per carry (5.6). The Jaguars have hit some big runs with several different backs, including a 61-yard touchdown run by Jamycal Hasty on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Jacksonville’s run defense ranks third in yards per carry allowed (3.6), so this might not be a big game for Barkley, which the Giants need.
Giants vs. Jaguars: Our Betting Pick
This game should be close, which may be bad news for the Jaguars. While Jones has led four game-winning drives for the Giants this season after struggling so much in that area in 2019-21, let’s look at the young career for Lawrence so far.
Lawrence is now 1-9 at fourth-quarter comeback opportunities and 2-10 at all game-winning drive opportunities. Both are the worst records among active starters, a distinction that belonged to Jones coming into this season.
Lawrence is also 0-16 when the Jaguars allow more than 20 points. In fact, Jacksonville has lost 38 straight games when allowing more than 20 points. The Giants are hardly a lock to get to 21 points on the road in this one, but it might be all they need to get a sixth win.
Trust the Giants to pull it out for your NFL picks this week.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.