The New Orleans Saints (2-1) at the Giants (1-2) at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday, Sept. 30 at 4:25 p.m.
A near-perfect day with lots of sun and temperatures in the low 70s. I'm sure as the sun goes down it'll feel a lot more chilly, but everyone should be comfy for a quarter or so.
WHAT IT MEANS
I guess it boils down to this: Are the Giants the offensive mess we saw in Week 1 and 2, or the coherent team we saw in Week 3? Because if they can score enough points to beat a team like the Saints (or, I suppose, stop them on defense) then the Giants will be .500 at the quarter pole of the season and will have a right to consider themselves an actual playoff contender. If they lose and fall to 1-3 … well, things will sure feel a lot worse.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Odell Beckham Jr.
Eli Manning played well last week. The offensive line played reasonably well. Saquon Barkley has played well. And yes, Beckham played well (9 catches for 109 yards). He's played well through three games (24-271) too. But two things are missing from his game: A touchdown and a really, Beckham-like big play. The latter is not insignificant because the Giants didn't make him the highest-paid receiver in the NFL because he can be consistently very good. They paid him for his greatness, his explosiveness, his knack for turning a short pass into a huge play. He hasn't done that. That's not necessarily a criticism, either, because it's important to remember he's still only three games into his return from a pretty serious ankle injury. But it's a fact. Beckham hasn't really been Beckham yet. Against a high-scoring team like the Saints, the Giants will need a little of that explosiveness and that Beckham magic.
The Saints have averaged 34.7 points per game and 428 yards so far this season and that should be frightening for a Giants team that hasn't scored 30 points since… what was it, the 1980s? (Yes, I know it was 2015, the final game of the Tom Coughlin Era). Even last week when the Giants spotted themselves 20 at the half they couldn't come up with 10 more points. They may need 30 to keep up with the Saints. But the good news is, they can get it. The Saints defense, which I thought might be pretty good when I made them my pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, is ranked 30th in the NFL and giving up an NFL-worst 34.3 points per game. They have issues all over the defensive side of the ball and I think that the Giants, even without TE Evan Engram, have matchups to exploit. Covering Barkley could be a particularly difficult assignment for the Saints, unless they divert resources that could free up Beckham. Also, it's worth noting that the Saints are historically just a different team on the road. They scored 43 in Atlanta last Sunday, but that's another dome. Outside on the road they are often not as dangerous a team. Maybe that's a lot to count on. The Saints still have the ageless Drew Brees and the big 1-2 punch of WR Michael Thomas and RB Alvin Kamara. But the Giants might have more weapons this time around. If last week was a stepping stone for the Giants' offensive line and not an aberration, this might finally be the week they top 30. And if they do, that should be enough. … Giants 31, Saints 27.
MY RECORD: 1-2
MY RECORD WHEN PICKING GIANTS TO WIN: 0-1
MY RECORD WHEN PICKING GIANTS TO LOSE: 1-1