Jacksonville Jaguars, playoff team? Let's not get carried away, but the Jags have to be feeling pretty good about themselves after a win to open the preseason. But they are 3-point dogs Saturday at the Giants with a total of 40.5.
Jags Lose Thomas To Injury
Jacksonville beat the visiting Steelers 23-21 on Friday, although the Jags' No. 1 defense gave up a 44-yard Ben Roethlisberger touchdown pass to Martavis Bryant. Roethlisberger completed all three of his passes in the game for 59 yards and also completed a pass on a 2-point conversion.
The big news from that game wasn't good for the Jaguars as the team's big offseason free-agent addition, former Broncos Pro Bowl tight end Julius Thomas, suffered a broken hand and will miss at least the rest of the preseason, although the team is hopeful he's good to go Week 1. Thomas was injured on the Jaguars' second offensive snap when he was hit by cornerback William Gay. He signed a five-year, $46 million contract, including $24 million guaranteed, in March. While playing with Peyton Manning, Thomas had 27 catches and 17 touchdowns in the red zone over the past two seasons. Only the Saints' Jimmy Graham (20) and Cowboys' Dez Bryant (18) had more touchdown catches in the red zone.
Also hurt against Pittsburgh was top safety Jonathan Cyprien, who suffered a non-displaced fracture of his right index finger. He's also out the rest of the preseason. Cyprien had 114 tackles and four passes defensed in 15 games last season.
One guy to keep an eye on for this game is Jags rookie running back T.Y. Yeldon as he has an outside shot of winning the starting job. The former Alabama star is +5000 on 5Dimes to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. He should make his debut in this game after missing the Steelers matchup with a sprained finger. Right now, he's behind Toby Gerhart and Denard Robinson at tailback, but those two are nothing special. Receiver Marqise Lee will miss a second straight game with a hamstring injury.
Look for Jags quarterback Blake Bortles to again play the entire first half as he did against Pittsburgh. Bortles was 11-for-15 passing for 118 yards and three of those incompletions were drops. He ran for a 4-yard touchdown.
New York Not Good In Opener
The Giants opened the preseason with a 23-10 loss at Cincinnati on Friday, with the New York No. 1 defense giving up a relatively easy touchdown to the Bengals' top offense on its only drive of the game. The Giants' No. 1 offense wasn't sharp despite Eli Manning and Co. playing until early in the second quarter. That group had one first down and 38 total yards in four series. Manning was 4-for-8 for 22 yards. Odell Beckham Jr., the reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, was targeted twice but held without a catch.
Manning, remember, is entering the final year of his contact. With the Chargers just inking Philip Rivers, who was drafted by the Giants at No. 4 overall in the 2004 draft but then immediately traded to San Diego for Manning and picks, to a four-year $84 million extension with $65 million in guarantees, that should provide a baseline for any deal for Manning. I'm sure he'd want more considering he has two Super Bowl rings and Rivers has never reached that game. The team is still hoping to get something done before the season starts.
Two guys you aren't going to see in this game are receiver Rueben Randle and rookie second-round pick Landon Collins, a safety. Randle is dealing with knee tendinitis and limped off after three plays against the Bengals. Collins suffered an MCL sprain. The Giants traded up in Round 2 to land Collins, the former Alabama star. In addition, fifth-round rookie safety Mykkele Thompson (Texas) suffered an Achilles injury in the game and is out for the season. Thus desperate for help at the position, the team signed veteran Brandon Meriweather.
New York lost in Jacksonville 25-24 in Week 13 last season for what that's worth. The Giants blew a 21-0 lead. It was the Jags' largest comeback win in team history.
NFL Free Pick: Tom Coughlin wasn't happy with the Giants' opener so I expect them to be much better here. Take New York and the under with your NFL picks.