The Giants will be back on the road this weekend for their second consecutive matchup against the AFC East, this time against the Buffalo Bills.
After falling to the Miami Dolphins last week, the Giants (1-4) will look to pick up their second win of the season when they head to Orchard Park for a matchup against the Bills (3-2) on Sunday Night Football.
The Bills traveled overseas last weekend to face the Jacksonville Jaguars in London. Despite a late comeback push, Buffalo wound up losing to Jacksonville, 25-20, at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Sunday's game will represent a homecoming of sorts for several coaches and players, but more on that later.
Here are five storylines to follow in the matchup on Sunday Night Football:
1. Update on Daniel Jones
The Giants have dealt with numerous injuries on both sides of the ball this season. But during Sunday's loss in Miami, quarterback Daniel Jones suffered a neck injury that forced him to leave the game early in the fourth quarter. Jones was unable to return to the game and missed the first practice of the week on Wednesday. It is unclear if he will be able to play against the Bills this weekend.
"I'd just say let's let it play out here," head coach Brian Daboll said. "Today, he's not practicing. We'll see how he is the next day, then the next day after that and then I think we'll take this all the way to the end of the week."
Jones spoke to the media Wednesday and said that while he is sore, his goal is still to play Sunday.
"Still a little bit sore but feeling better," the quarterback said. "Felt better every day since Sunday, so just continuing to listen to the doctors and trainers and trying to get better as quick as possible... The goal is still to play Sunday, that's certainly my goal and that's what I'm working on. I'm preparing to play like I always would and taking the advice of the doctors and trainers."
Tyrod Taylor filled in for Jones once the starter departed the game. The veteran quarterback completed nine of 12 passes (75 percent) for 86 yards and a 94.4 passer rating while adding 14 yards on three rushing attempts (4.7 avg.). If Jones is unable to go, Taylor would make his first start for the Giants in Week 6. It would also be the veteran's first start against his former team since he spent three seasons with the Bills from 2015-17.
Buffalo's pass defense has been among the league's best this season. The Bills rank eighth in passing yards allowed (956) and are tied for third in passing touchdowns (four) surrendered. Meanwhile, their eight interceptions are tied with the 49ers for the most in the NFL. However, the unit recently lost their No. 1 cornerback, Tre'Davious White, to a season-ending Achilles injury. He was injured in Buffalo's Week 4 win, and across the past two games, the defense allowed an average of 264.5 passing yards. Through the first three weeks, that number was at 142.3 passing yards allowed per game.
View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the Week 6 matchup against the Buffalo Bills.
2. Where do things stand with the O-line?
No position group has been hit with more injuries this season than the offensive line. Left tackle Andrew Thomas has missed four consecutive games due to a hamstring injury, while starting center John Michael Schmitz (shoulder) and backup guard Shane Lemieux (groin) were also sidelined for Sunday's game in Miami. To make matters worse, starting right guard Marcus McKethan was forced out of the Week 5 contest because of a knee injury and was unable to return. This thrust practice squad call-up Jalen Mayfield into a prominent role (45 snaps) against the Dolphins.
It remains to be seen which linemen will be able to suit up for Sunday's game in Buffalo. The Giants would certainly welcome the return of Thomas to the lineup, but the All-Pro left tackle did not participate in the first practice of the week. Daboll said they will have to wait and see how Thomas' hamstring responds to treatment throughout the week before determining if he will play in Week 6.
As for the rest, Daboll said it's too early to tell if they'll be cleared to play against the Bills. Schmitz and Matt Peart (shoulder) also did not practice Wednesday, while Lemieux and McKethan were limited.
"You want all your players out there but next man up mentality, so we've got to do a good job of coaching it and we've got to do a good job of executing," Daboll said about the injuries along the offensive line.
Within the last week, the Giants have signed two veteran offensive linemen to the practice squad – Justin Pugh and Yodny Cajuste. Daboll was noncommittal on when the two linemen will be game-ready.
"He'll do more than he did last week, so we'll try to get him involved," Daboll said about Pugh. "He took some reps the last practice and we'll get him some more reps today... We'll get him out here and see what he can do this week. He'll obviously do a lot more than he did last week. We were ramping him up and see how he does."
"We've got to get him out here and see where he's at," the head coach added about Cajuste. "Anything's on the table relative to what happens or transpires the next couple of days with the guys that are not practicing."
Through the first five weeks of the season, the Giants have allowed a league-high 30 sacks, as they have surrendered a sack on 15.3 percent of quarterback dropbacks. Against the Dolphins, the line allowed 28 total pressures, according to Pro Football Focus.
3. Latest on Saquon, other injury updates
The Giants' run game has undoubtedly been hurting since Saquon Barkley was lost to an ankle injury at the end of Week 2. In the last three games, Giants running backs have combined for just 107 yards on 47 carries, an average of 2.3 yards per carry. Running back Matt Breida accounted for the team's one offensive touchdown during that span on an eight-yard run against the 49ers in Week 3.
Barkley was listed as questionable on last week's final injury report after being a limited participant in practice throughout the week. Daboll would not commit to Barkley being on the field this Sunday, but the head coach did say the star running back would "do a little bit more than he did last week."
If there is a way to attack the Bills defense, it's on the ground. Buffalo ranks 25th in the league with its 134.0 rushing yards allowed per game, while the team's 5.8 yards per attempt given up is the second-highest in the NFL. The defense also recently lost linebacker Matt Milano (leg) and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones (pectoral) to likely season-ending injuries.
Tight end Darren Waller did not practice Wednesday due to a groin injury, and Daboll labeled the veteran as "day-to-day." Additionally, wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson (knee) sat out Wednesday's practice.
4. Daboll's return to Buffalo
When the NFL first released the 2023 schedule back in May, many people immediately circled the Week 6 primetime matchup between the Giants and Bills as one to watch. Of course, this will be the first trip back to Buffalo for head coach Brian Daboll, general manager Joe Schoen and many other members of the team. Daboll served as the offensive coordinator for the Bills from 2018-21, while Schoen was Buffalo's assistant general manager from 2017-21.
"Look, it's the next game," Daboll said Monday about returning to Buffalo. "Been in this league a long time, played against a lot of different teams that I've worked for or players that I've coached. Tremendous amount of respect for the Buffalo Bills organization, (Bills Owner/CEO/President) Terry Pegula, (Bills General Manager) Brandon Beane, (Bills Head Coach) Sean McDermott, all their coaches and players. But our focus is always on us, first and foremost, getting ready to play a game. They're a really good team. So, we'll have our work cut out for us."
The connections with the Bills run deeper than the two top decision-makers. The other Giants coaches who previously worked in Buffalo include director of coaching operations Laura Young (2015-21), inside linebackers coach John Egorugwu (2017-20), offensive line coach Bobby Johnson (2010-11, 2019-21) and quarterbacks coach Shea Tierney (2018-21). Additionally, quarterback Tyrod Taylor (2015-17), wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins (2020-22), running back Matt Breida (2021), cornerback Nick McCloud (2021) and outside linebacker Boogie Basham (2021-22) all previously called Buffalo home, as well.
"It's an electric environment," the head coach said about playing in Orchard Park. "They'll be going all day, getting ready for the game. It's loud. It's an unbelievable atmosphere. It's hard to hear. Been on the other side of it, too, when I was with the Patriots, the Dolphins and the Jets. And they have a fantastic team. You know they are one of the only two teams that are top five in points on offense and defense, the other team being San Francisco, so they are a great team, and their fans will be ready, they are loud. It's a loud environment."
5. Scouting the Bills
Despite picking up their second loss of the season in Week 5, the Bills have been one of the most well-rounded teams in the league this year. Their offense enters this matchup ranking third in points and fourth in yards, and the biggest reason for those rankings has been the performance of Josh Allen. The sixth-year quarterback leads the NFL with his 73.1 completion percentage to go with 1,407 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions, good for a passer rating of 105.6. Allen has also continued to be a force on the ground, adding 120 rushing yards on 20 carries (6.0 avg.) and three additional scores. Allen has lead the Bills' offense to an average of 35.8 points per game over their last four outings.
"Josh Allen is an unbelievable player, one of the best in the league," Daboll told reporters. "You can put him in probably any offense and he's going to produce. You know, I missed him as a person, we are close, but as a player, he's a heck of a player. Put on any tape, he's exceptional at everything. He can run, but he can throw it and he can throw it wherever he needs to throw it, 80 yards down the field, drop a dime, on the move to the right put it back across his body, scramble, back up, scramble around, throw it out, throw it on time...
"He's a special player. He's one of the best in the league. And he makes you better as a playcaller, too, so he's one of a kind."
Allen has a clear-cut favorite target in the form of Stefon Diggs. The two-time All-Pro wide receiver ranks third in the NFL in receptions (39), sixth in receiving yards (520) and is tied for the league-lead in receiving touchdowns (five). The 29-year-old has topped 100 receiving yards in four of five games this year, and has racked up four touchdowns in the last two games alone. His 39 receptions are 21 more than anyone else on the team.
Gabe Davis is second on the team with 18 receptions for 320 yards and four touchdowns, and has found the end zone in each of the last four games. Buffalo has two talented tight ends in Dawson Knox and rookie Dalton Kincaid, but both are currently dealing with injuries.
James Cook has recorded the most rushing attempts on the team with 61, which he has taken for 292 yards and a touchdown. Cook has also caught 14 passes for another 140 yards. However, the Bills like to use multiple backs as both Latavius Murray and Damien Harris have combined for 41 carries for 176 yards (4.3 avg.) and three touchdowns.
Despite all of the injuries, the Bills still sport the league's No. 5 scoring defense. Buffalo has a league-high with 21 sacks through five games. Defensive end Leonard Floyd leads the way with 5.5, while defensive tackle Ed Oliver is right behind him with four. Defensive ends A.J. Epenesa and Gregory Rousseau have also registered three sacks apiece.
Sean McDermott's defense has also racked up an NFL-leading 13 turnovers, including eight interceptions. Milano, linebacker Terrel Bernard and safety Micah Hyde have picked off two passes each, while cornerback Taron Johnson has forced two fumbles.
Buffalo has allowed a touchdown on just seven of 15 trips inside the red zone (46.7 percent), good for the eighth-best mark in the league.
View rare photos of the all-time series between the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills.