Five storylines to follow heading into Thursday Night Football between the New York Giants (2-3) and New England Patriots (5-0):
1. Shipping up to Foxborough. The Patriots have started 5-0 for the fourth time under head coach Bill Belichick (2004, 2007, 2015). The Giants, meanwhile, are coming off a 28-10 loss to the Vikings after back-to-back wins to start the Daniel Jones era. The rookie quarterback will try to invoke some of the magic of his predecessor, Eli Manning, against the Patriots.
Since the Giants’ last trip to Foxborough, a 24-20 victory in 2011, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has lost just eight games at Gillette Stadium, including postseason. He is currently on an 18-game winning streak at home and is 130-20 overall at the venue.
2. Saquon Watch, Day 16. With the truncated schedule, the Giants opened the week with a walkthrough on Monday. The initial injury report, which was an estimation of what players would have done if the team had practiced, listed Saquon Barkley as limited. The star running back has been sidelined since suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 3 against the Buccaneers. He was ruled out last Sunday for the second consecutive game, but “there’s a possibility” he could play Thursday night, according to Pat Shurmur. “He’s getting much closer,” the head coach added. “Closer than where he was last week.”
The Patriots are also keeping an eye on his status.
“We haven’t faced him, and I hope we don’t, but we need to be ready for him,” Belichick said on a conference call. “He’s a very competitive guy, I’m sure he’s doing all he can to get ready to go. He was close last week, so we’ll probably get him. He can do it all. He’s got great power, speed, they use him well in the passing game. He’s very hard, obviously, to tackle in the open field, he’s hard to tackle anywhere. He’s got good vision, good quickness, he can play in space, he’s elusive, he’s got power, he had 2,000 yards from scrimmage last year. That pretty much says it all right there.”
3. Injuries adding up on offense. Running back Wayne Gallman (concussion), wide receiver Sterling Shepard (concussion) and tight end Evan Engram (knee) were unable to participate in Monday’s walkthrough. It was Shepard’s second concussion in five weeks. There is no prognosis for his return. That leaves a healthy wide receiver corps of Golden Tate, who made his Giants debut last week, Cody Latimer, rookie Darius Slayton and Cody Core.
“Honestly, whatever it takes to win, that’s the goal here for everybody in this locker room,” Tate said Monday. “That’s what I want my part to be, just help us win, so if that means I run more plays, so be it. Less plays, whatever, just win. Coming into this locker room after last week’s win was fun and today wasn’t as fun. We want to get back to winning.”
4. Patriots defense is chasing history. It’s not an ideal time to be missing key play-makers as the Patriots have yet to allow a passing touchdown this season. The last team that did not allow a passing touchdown in the first five games was the 1988 Cleveland Browns. New England, which leads the league with 11 interceptions, has given up 34 total points, the fewest points allowed through a team’s first five games since the 2005 Indianapolis Colts (29 points) and the fifth-fewest since 1970.
5. When preparing to face the Patriots, Jones can learn a lot from Manning. The rookie quarterback has two wins as a starter, the same number of Super Bowl victories for Manning. The latter earned both of his Pete Rozelle Trophies after defeating the Patriots in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI.
“Absolutely, I think he’s been extremely helpful to me in each of these games, and in a short week like this, he’ll be helpful, also,” Jones said. “He obviously knows how to prepare, he’s done this short week a number of times, so he’ll be extremely helpful.”
Jones added: “I think [he can share] just some of their tendencies and how they’ve evolved over the years. I think they’ve changed a little bit from the times—but he has the experience from seeing that change. But yeah, I think just kind of the tendencies, who they are, the foundation of their defense, is helpful in preparing.”
Paul Schwartz of the New York Post then asked Jones if Manning told him that if at any point he got in trouble, to just run around and throw it as far as you can and try to put it on someone’s helmet.
“No, he didn’t say that one,” Jones said with a big rookie smile. “But yeah, he has a whole lot of experience and a whole lot of success, so a lot to learn.”
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