The Giants (2-9) at the Oakland Raiders (5-6) at the Oakland Alameda Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., on Sunday, Dec. 3 at 4:25 p.m. ET.
It will feel a lot like New Jersey, actually. Maybe a tiny bit warmer. Sunny skies, light winds, and a high of around 58 degrees.
WHAT IT MEANS
A meaningless game - except in the race for a Top 3 draft pick - has become incredibly interesting, at least in the wake of the Eli Manning benching. It means a ton for QB Geno Smith since this might be his only opportunity to audition for a starting job in 2018 (with the Giants or someone else). The Giants are going to turn to Davis Webb at some point, and as SNY reported, it might come next week against the Cowboys. So, Smith needs to make the most of this opportunity.
It also means a lot for Ben McAdoo and GM Jerry Reese. This is what they wanted - a chance to see their offense with a more mobile, stronger-armed quarterback. They still have the same crummy offensive line and injury-riddled receiving corps, but at least now they get to see what life without Eli looks like. Enjoy!
PLAYER TO WATCH: Giants QB Geno Smith
He's what this game is about. Smith, who washed out as a Jets starter on and off the field, has done absolutely everything right to try and resurrect his career. Give him credit for that. He signed with the Giants to rehab his torn ACL, to learn from Manning, and in an organization that at least previously didn't operate in a state of perpetual chaos. He has been a good teammate, hasn't gotten into trouble, and his teammates really seem to like him and they rave about his ability. He's even handled this horribly awkward week with more grace than anyone expected.
But it's about what he does on the field. No, he doesn't have a great cast around him. But McAdoo has long been hinting that things would be better if he had a quarterback who could escape trouble and create things out of the pocket. Smith should have that ability. Everyone will be watching to see if he can make McAdoo's bland offense sing, even though it's dramatically undermanned. Everyone will also be watching to see if Smith has learned to make better decisions than he often made earlier in his career, or if he's still going to be a turnover machine.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Raiders LB Bruce Irvin & DE/LB Khalil Mack vs. Giants LT Ereck Flowers & RT Chad Wheeler
Wheeler will be making just his third NFL start and he will have to deal with Mack, one of the NFL's best defenders and a man with 6 ½ sacks on the season. Wheeler struggled mightily against the Redskins back on Thanksgiving night, especially against Ryan Kerrigan. This isn't going to be any easier. In fact it might be worse.
As for Flowers, he interrupted the rewriting of his narrative with a pretty awful game in Washington - plus the now-infamous Snapchat video that Jason Pierre-Paul posted after he tossed the left tackle to the ground in practice like an empty sack of potatoes. Flowers versus Irvin, who is coming off a two-sack game vs. the Broncos and has 4 ½ on the season, is a matchup the Raiders have to love. On the bright side, this will definitely put Ben McAdoo's idea that his offense would be better with a more mobile quarterback to the test. Because Smith will almost certainly have to do a lot of running if he wants to get anything done on offense at all.
There's a lot of things the Giants have said this week that have made no sense at all, but perhaps the hardest to believe is their contention that they're still trying to win games. I mean, sure, they're trying. But if they think Smith gives them a better chance to win than Manning, they are absolutely out of their minds.
This 2-9 season has never been about Manning, no matter how much McAdoo and Reese think it has been. A more mobile quarterback wasn't going to solve their problems. Their problems started long ago when they kept hoping Manning would become more mobile rather than build a better offensive line. He is still the best and smartest quarterback on this team, and easily in the top half of quarterbacks in the league. Smith? He undoubtedly has talent, but he hasn't played in three years and he had a knack for terrible turnovers with the Jets. Unfortunately for him, he's got the same crummy offensive line in front of him that Manning has. Will he be able to escape trouble better than Manning? Sure.
The Giants' solution with Manning was to have him take three steps and throw to his first read before the pass rush could kill him. Smith should be able to get out of the pocket and perhaps make a second read. Of course, then he'll realize that unless Sterling Shepard or tight end Evan Engram are wide open, there might not be another option. It's not like Manning has had a ton of open receivers to throw to. And did McAdoo and Reese see all the receivers who ran wrong routes or dropped catchable balls? Is Smith going to fix that? Is the running game suddenly going to be competent? Is his defense suddenly going to be able to stop the run or prevent big plays in the passing game?
The Giants are what they are, and they are a bad team with a flawed roster made worse by an incredible run of injuries. I suppose it's possible a quarterback change could give them a short-term boost. And bully for them if it happens. I hope they feel it was worth it for all the ill-will they created. But, most likely, this mess will continue and Smith's offense will be disrupted by drops, missed blocks, and constant pressure the way that Manning's offense was on a pretty consistent basis over the last two years. … Raiders 31, Giants 13.
MY RECORD: 5-6
MY RECORD WHEN PICKING THE GIANTS TO WIN: 0-4
MY RECORD WHEN PICKING THE GIANTS TO LOSE: 5-2