If you like talented running backs, this game is for you. Expect the Jaguars and Giants to try to run the ball down one another’s throats.
The Giants took a lot of flack in the offseason for their decision to draft running back Saquon Barkley. Conventional wisdom suggest they should have taken a quarterback instead. Week 1 presents New York with a big opportunity to prove everyone wrong against the Jaguars.
In fairness to the critics, everyone seems to agree that Barkley has the chance to be a special running back. The argument against taking him is related to the salary he will earn as the No. 2 overall pick and the lack of an obvious successor to Eli Manning on the roster. The team’s decision to cut Davis Webb this week didn’t help things there. Nonetheless, Barkley is a Giant now and they expect a big season from him.
The Jaguars have a big time running back of their own. Leonard Fournette is an absolute battering ram. He doesn’t have the big play potential that Barkley possesses, but he is one of the best inside runners in the NFL. The Jacksonville coaching staff will count on their bruising running back to help make up for Blake Bortles’ deficiencies at quarterback.
This may not be the highest scoring game of the opening weekend, but it’s a quality throwback option for football purists.
It’s a solid bet that both run games will be reasonably productive in this one. The real evaluation point will be on the two quarterbacks. Bortles is the one player standing between the Jaguars and a Super Bowl. On the other side, there are serious questions about how good Eli Manning is at this point in his career. There’s a lot of pressure on both guys in the opener.