Josh Allen is more of a threat to the Giants on the ground than through the air.
John Schmeelk: Fiction – Josh Allen might do some damage as a runner, but he is not going to win a game that way. There might be some individual plays on key downs where he runs for a first down, or even a touchdown, but it will be his arm that will ultimately determine how effective the Bills offense will be. Most games will ultimately come down to whether the quarterback can drop back and deliver a throw from the pocket. Allen has been inconsistent on those types of plays so far in his career, and the Giants defense will try to bounce back from a rough week against Dallas and keep that trend going.
Dan Salomone: Fact – Every starter in the NFL has an arm, but few have the legs to match it. I’ll keep it simple. The Bills are 6-1 when the former seventh overall draft pick has a rushing touchdown; they are 0-6 when he does not.
Lance Medow: Fiction – Last season, Josh Allen led the Bills in rushing with 631 yards, but that was a product of a struggling offensive line. During the offseason, Buffalo completely revamped that line with left tackle Dion Dawkins as the only returning starter. Last Sunday, Allen ran the ball 10 times against the Jets, but his mobility is not a unique challenge compared to other versatile quarterbacks the Giants will see this season. Allen is more of a threat through the air. He has a very strong arm; the Bills opened the game against the Jets with 18 straight pass plays, which shows Buffalo has plenty of confidence in Allen’s arm. In last week’s game, the former first-round pick attempted five passes for 20 or more yards and completed two of them for 67 yards and a touchdown, further evidence why you have to respect his arm. While he completed just 53 percent of his passes as a rookie last season, that number jumped to 65% in Week 1 against the Jets. It may be a small sample size, but Allen has already shown improvement in his accuracy.
Saquon Barkley recording 100 yards rushing is more likely than Evan Engram having 100 yards receiving vs. Buffalo.
Schmeelk: Fact – Saquon Barkley is always one big run away from having 100 yards, and a play like that can come at any time. The Bills have one of the best pass defenses in the league. Last year, they were the only team in the league to hold opponents to under 180 passing yards per game. Last week, they held the Jets to only 3.78 yards per pass play, the best mark in the league. Engram will have a chance to be the Giants’ top receiving threat, but getting to 100 yards might be tough.
Salomone: Fact – Both will be tough marks to reach on Sunday. I was leaning toward Engram because of last week’s performance and the fact that he will be the focal point once again in the passing game with Sterling Shepard going through the concussion protocol. But you can’t go against Barkley here. The Bills boast one of the best secondaries in the league, and while their defensive front is stout, the Giants might have to do most of their damage on the ground in this matchup.
Medow: Fact – In Week 1, the Bills did a nice job containing Le’Veon Bell, who ran 17 times for just 60 yards. Buffalo is solid up front, but it’s even more impressive in the secondary as the Bills ranked number one in the NFL against the pass in 2018, allowing just 179 yards per game. That group picked up where it left off last season as the Bills only surrendered 175 through the air to Sam Darnold. Based on the track record of Buffalo’s secondary and its performance in Week 1, it’s more likely that Saquon Barkley reaches the century mark on the ground than Evan Engram in the receiving game. As we saw last Sunday against the Cowboys, Barkley is capable of breaking free for a big run at any given time.
Keep an eye on these five players when the Giants host the Bills in Week 2.
The Bills will be the best defense the Giants face all season.
Schmeelk: Fiction – It’s close, but I am not ready to rate the Bills defense higher than the Bears, who the Giants play in week 12. The Bears forced 36 turnovers (including six defensive touchdowns) last season compared to 27 takeaways and one defensive score for the Bills. The Bills defense is elite, however, and is often overlooked because they won only six games last season. They have playmakers at all three levels and will be a huge challenge for the Giants offense this week.
Salomone: Fact – Buffalo’s defense is built for sustained success with playmakers at every level. You typically think of the Bills as a stout defense up front, but their secondary is doing special things. I’m going to steal a stat from our own Michael Eisen: Buffalo has held nine consecutive opponents to less than 210 passing yards, their longest streak since 2004 and the NFL’s longest since Seattle’s streak of 13 games in a row from 2013-14. That’s pretty good company.
Medow: Fiction – I think the Bills defense is extremely underrated. As noted above, last season Buffalo boasted the stingiest secondary in the NFL. One of the best units in the NFL returned all 11 starters from 2018. The Giants still need to play Minnesota, Chicago and Green Bay, as well as Dallas again. Green Bay made several changes to its defense this offseason and looked impressive in Week 1 at Chicago. The Vikings have showcased one of the best defenses in the league over the last few years and gave Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense a hard time last week. The Bears top all of them thanks to their opportunistic ways in 2018 and a relentless pass rush, and Chicago’s defense is essentially still intact from last season.