The Giants (0-2) at the Houston Texans (0-2) at NRG Stadium in Houston on Sunday, Sept. 23, at 1 p.m. ET.
The temperatures should be in the upper 80s and will feel much hotter than that, and there is the possibility of thunderstorms. So yeah, they're probably going to close the roof.
WHAT IT MEANS
Since 1990, a mere 12 percent of teams that started 0-2 have made the playoffs. The odds go way down at 0-3, which is what the loser of this game will be. In fact, only five 0-3 teams have gone on to make the playoffs since the NFL-AFL merger, and nobody has done it since 1998. So yeah, there's a lot at stake. And for the Giants, there's even more than just this season on the line, since a lost year will lead to many questions about the future of Eli Manning. They're not ready to address those, and they certainly don't want to do it in Week 3.
PLAYER TO WATCH: CHAD WHEELER
Ereck Flowers, the Giants much-maligned right tackle, has finally been benched, but is Wheeler much of an upgrade? We'll find out fast since he'll face a combination of J.J. Watt and Jadaveon Clowney -- a matchup that would be a problem for any tackle. He'll mostly get Watt, but the Texans line both of them up all over the defense. And forget the element of surprise. Unless Houston coach Bill O'Brien lost all the Giants game film, he was going to send the pass rush over Flowers' side over and over and over again. He'll just do that to Wheeler now.
The Giants knew this was going to be an issue, obviously. They just knew that Flowers couldn't handle it and had more than enough chances to prove otherwise. As bad as Flowers has been, though, Wheeler had been unable to beat him out. And Giants OL coach Hal Hunter recently said Wheeler is more suited to play on the left than the right anyway. So there's really no guarantee this switch will make things any better. The Giants had no choice. They had to try something. But if Watt and Clowney are on their game on Sunday, Manning could be in danger and things for the Giants' offensive line -- particularly at right tackle -- could still become exponentially worse.
The Texans may be 0-2 with two close, but underwhelming losses, but they are a very bad matchup for the Giants. The Flowers situation as noted above is one reason. With Watt and Clowney, the Texans have a terrific defensive front that is very likely to get on track on Sunday. And as we've learned the last few years, when the Giants' line can't hold, the offense can't run and Manning looks terrible and … well, you get the idea. This promises to be more of the same on that front. On the other side of the ball things aren't much better. The Giants aren't generating much of a pass rush and that likely will continue to be the case with LB Olivier Vernon (ankle) out. That's a problem against the very mobile DeShaun Watson. The Giants will have trouble containing him and actually getting to him, rather than just flushing him from the pocket where he tends to be pretty good on the run. But wait, there's more. With CB Eli Apple (groin) out, the Giants are shorthanded in the secondary. Presumably CB Janoris Jenkins will be locked in on Houston WR DeAndre Hopkins. But that leaves the speedy Will Fuller to be covered by … B.W. Webb? That sounds like a mismatch the Texans can exploit. They also run the ball pretty well, too.
What's on the Giants' side? Well, they're certainly due. They haven't scored 30 points in … well, basically forever it seems. They have too many weapons to be held down for yet another season. And against a team with a great pass rush, Saquon Barkley seems like a good weapon the Giants can use to exploit it. If Manning can just get a second or two extra, maybe Odell Beckham Jr. could have a big day too. That seems like a lot to ask, though. The Giants' offense is what it is, and it's not likely to get a lot better on the road with Watt and Clowney breathing down Manning's neck. … Texans 27, Giants 13.
MY RECORD: 1-1
MY RECORD WHEN PICKING GIANTS TO WIN: 0-1
MY RECORD WHEN PICKING GIANTS TO LOSE: 1-0