JACKSONVILLE – Each Saturday during the 2018 season, nine Jaguars experts – Rick Ballou, Tony Boselli, Frank Frangie, Jeff Lageman, Brent Martineau, John Oehser, Brian Sexton, J.P. Shadrick and Ashlyn Sullivan – will break down the following day's Jaguars matchup.
Up this week:
The New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Rick Ballou, Jaguars sideline reporter
The Jaguars will win if: They don't turn the ball over. New York will be ready to go and will do its best to force Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles to make mistakes. The Jags, who had the NFL's top-ranked rushing offense a season ago, will look to be even better in that area.
The Giants will win if: Rookie running back Saquon Barkley has his way against the Jags defense. Jacksonville struggled against the run last year at times.
As Ballou sees it: Jags, 24-17. Jacksonville will have a balanced attack on offense and will force two interceptions from Giants quarterback Eli Manning.
Tony Boselli, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars left tackle
The Jaguars will win if: They control the line of scrimmage and don't give up big plays to the Giants' offense. Barkley and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. are a threat to go the distance every play. I do not think the Giants can put together long drives against the Jaguars' defense, but the quick-hit plays concern me. Offensively, if the line takes care of business and gets running back Leonard Fournette going early, the Jaguars will control the tempo of the game and win by at least a touchdown.
The Giants will win if: If they can protect Manning and stop Fournette. The only chance the Giants have is if they can run the ball and keep the rush off Manning. If Manning has time, the Giants have big-play options that can hurt the Jaguars.
As Boselli sees it: It will be a close game in the first half, but the Jaguars' size and physicality will wear down the Giants, allowing them to ultimately pull away in the second half. I see the Jaguars winning by 10, 24-14.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
The Jaguars will win if: They win first down on defense, take Barkley away early and make Manning face difficult down-and-distance situations – then unleash that unreal pass rush. Also, the Jags need to start well. With so much hype and so many expectations, they must gain confidence early. The first quarter and a half is very important.
The Giants will win if: They can get the running game going. Also, the Giants need to win outside when Jacksonville has the ball. The Jags' young receivers will need to prove they can get off jams; the Giants will try to maul them at the line.
As Frangie sees it: The Jags win this one, as they should. The defense will make life miserable for the Giants' offense; the Jags will hit Manning early and often. Odell Beckham Jr. will have his catches, but they won't impact the outcome.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
The Jaguars will win if: The offensive line controls the tempo by paving the way for the Jaguars' backfield. The preseason showed that the running back group is ready to rock not only as runners but as receivers. The chemistry in the passing game between the backs and Bortles is evident – and will be counted on while the chemistry continues to develop with the wide receivers.
The Giants will win if: If their rebuilt offensive line opens running lanes for the highly-drafted Barkley, taking pressure of Manning. Giants General Manager Dave Gettleman made it a priority in the offseason to become more physical up front. The Jaguars' defense has shown to be one of the best, and the only way to have success against a great defense is rushing success with play action to follow.
As Lageman sees it: The Jaguars have a confidence and a comfort level with their systems in Year 2 under Head Coach Doug Marrone, and coming out of a physical training camp and preseason should have them ready to go. The Giants have a new coach and new systems on both sides of the ball that will require time for success. Even with a two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
The Jaguars will win if: They contain Barkley. Barkley is the Giants' only chance to be effective on offense. If the Jags make Pat Shurmur's offense one-dimensional, then this defense will have a field day and prove that Manning is getting long in the tooth.
The Giants will win if: They beat the Jags' offensive line in the trenches. To beat the Jaguars, you must plan on holding them under 20 points. The Giants, possibly without defensive end Olivier Vernon, can win if they get a push on the front to slow down Fournette and force quarterback Blake Bortles into mistakes.
As Martineau sees it: The unknown and "lack of tape" is an overplayed storyline this week. The Jaguars are clearly better than the Giants. Now, they must play like it. Odell Beckham Jr. will make a few plays, but I think Manning will look old against this talented Jaguars defense. It won't be as dominating as last season's opener in Houston, but the Jags will beat the Giants on opening day.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
The Jaguars will win if: They can run effectively – and if Bortles plays mistake-free. If those things happen, the offense will score and control the clock for large periods. If that happens, this defense will be able to get pressure on a Giants offense that will have to increasingly depend on the pass. When the Jaguars know teams must pass, they are often dominant.
The Giants will win if: They get Barkley loose early and often. The thought here is that the Giants' rookie running back will have a big play or two. The Jaguars have very little video on Barkley at the NFL level to study, and the Giants should be able to scheme some big gains for the No. 2 overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft. The key for the Jaguars is keeping those to a minimum and getting the Giants into obvious passing situations. That should be a big advantage for the Jaguars.
As Oehser sees it: This has the feel of a tight game for at least three quarters. The Giants believe they're better than last season's 3-13 record, and they have a veteran quarterback with big-time playmakers. The key for the Jaguars: don't give the Giants points off turnovers and take advantage of the opportunities they get on offense. If the Jaguars do that, their defensive strength will be the difference in the fourth quarter.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
The Jaguars will win if: They can keep Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley from exploding. Does anyone think that is beyond the Jaguars' abilities? The Giants' rebuilt offensive line is supposed to be better, which should give Manning more time to find his weapons this season. But if we're talking about matchups, even matchups against playmakers such as Beckham and Barkley, the Jags have the horses to run on Sunday.
The Giants will win if: Barkley is so good he keeps the Jaguars from rolling their coverages to Beckham. Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye are the best cornerback tandem in football and Ramsey is the best corner in the game. But in a league where the rules distinctly favor the offense, both players could use the help of a safety against Beckham. If everyone else is focused on Barkley, that will take the pressure off Manning and give Beckham room to roam, and it will be a long day for the Jaguars in New York.
As Sexton sees it: That isn't likely to happen. These Jags can stop the run with their front seven which, gives defensive coordinator Todd Wash plenty of options against Beckham in the secondary. Plus, the Giants' pass rush was weakened by the departure of Jason Pierre-Paul and is hobbled by the ankle injury to Vernon. I think the Jaguars will be too much for a Giants team that isn't as bad as their 3-13 record last season but isn't ready to be as good as their 11-5 campaign from 2016.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com reporter/editor
The Jaguars will win if: They can slow down some of the Giants' offensive playmakers. I say "slow down" because it is difficult in the NFL to completely shut down star players from making plays during a game. Don't let them run rampant. Stop the run with Barkley, then force Manning to stand in the pocket longer and take hits or force some throws.
The Giants will win if: They win the battle between the Giants' defensive line and the Jaguars' offensive line. For all of the Jaguars' new weapons on offense – tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, wide receiver Donte Moncrief, rookie wide receiver D.J. Chark Jr., etc. – it all is built around the ability to establish the run. If the Giants' defense can stuff the run, then the play-action game is minimized for Bortles.
As Shadrick sees it: Road openers are tough, but this Jaguars team did not seem to mind much last season in Houston Week 1. They have bigger things in mind than just the opening game this season, but to achieve those goals it would help greatly to start off on the right foot. I believe the focus will be there to go handle business this week. Jags 27, Giants 17.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Digital reporter and host
The Jaguars will win if: They can control their hype. The locker room has been amped up to begin this season for months. The Jaguars will need to control their emotions and limit penalties to win.
The Giants will win if: They can surprise the defense. With limited film on the Giants offense, especially Barkley, the Jaguars defense will have to roll with the punches and control their own tempo to limit the Giants' offensive production.
As Sullivan sees it: This matchup will be more difficult than people think. This Giants team is not the 3-13 team we saw last season. They have strong offensive weapons and a Super Bowl MVP under center. The Jaguars will have to show up ready to play to win.