New York Giants vs. Jacksonville Jaguars Preview

New York Giants (6-3) +3, O/U 38 at Jacksonville Jaguars (5-4), 8:30 p.m. Eastern Monday, ESPN
by Staff

Two teams coming off sorry losses a week ago hook up when the New York Giants visit the Jacksonville Jaguars in an NFL inter-conference match-up on ESPN’s Monday Night Football tonight in north Florida.

New York had won five games in a row before getting blasted by the Chicago Bears last week 38-20 in New Jersey. The Giants led Chicago 13-3 late in the second quarter, but proceeded to self-destruct, allowing 28 second-half points.

Jacksonville, with back-up QB David Garrard taking the snaps in place of regular starter Byron Leftwich, had climbed to 5-3 on the season before losing at home to the Houston Texans 13-10 last week as 10-point chalk. The loss completed a Houston sweep of the Jaguars this season.

New York still sits atop the NFC Eastern Division, but by just a half-game over the second-place Dallas Cowboys.

Jacksonville occupies second place in the AFC South, 3 games back of the division-leading Indianapolis Colts.

Monday night’s game will mark the return of Giants head coach Tom Coughlin to Jacksonville, where he put up a 68-60 record as the Jags coach from 1995-2002. Be sure to check out our Staff’s Monday Night Football Picks!

Since Coughlin was fired, the Jaguars are (including playoffs) 31-27 under head coach Jack Del Rio.

These two teams have played five common opponents so far this season, with the Giants putting up a 4-1 record and the Jags going 2-4 in those games. New York beat Houston 14-10 two weeks ago, while Jacksonville, as mentioned above, has lost twice to the Texans this season, by scores of 27-7 and 13-10; The Giants beat Dallas 36-22 in Big D a month ago, and the Jags beat the Cowboys 24-17 in J-Ville in Week 1; N.Y. defeated Washington 19-3, while the Redskins beat the Jaguars 36-30 in OT; The Giants beat the Eagles in Philadelphia 30-24 in OT, and Jacksonville also won in Philly 13-6; And the Indianapolis Colts have beaten both the Giants (26-21) and the Jags (21-14), although Jacksonville dominated their game in Indy in the boxscore.

On the season, New York is 5-4 against the spread, and 3-1 both straight up and ATS on the road. Meanwhile, the Jags are also 5-4 vs. the numbers this season, and 4-1 both SU and against the spread at home.

Giants QB Eli Manning has completed 59% of his passes this season and owns a 15/11 TD/INT ratio and an 81.0 passing rating. But Manning had a tough night last week vs. the Bears, going 14/32 for 121 yards and two INTs.

J-Ville QB David Garrard, who’s expected to start again Monday night in place of Leftwich, has hit on only 51% of his passes this season for a three/four TD/INT ratio and a 62.5 passers rating. And Garrard is also coming off a bad game last week, when he went 15/34 for 214 yards and four INTs vs. Houston. But Garrard’s targets didn’t exactly help him out vs. the Texans; Jags receivers dropped at least a half-dozen passes, two of which resulted in pick-offs.

Both running games have been positive influences on each team this season; New York is outrushing opponents by a 144-97 yards-per-game average, while Jacksonville is outgrounding foes by a 133-104 YPG margin.

These two teams haven’t met since the Giants beat the Jags 24-17 in 2002.

The New York offense ranks 11th in the league with a 40% 3rd-down conversion rate, while Jacksonville ranks 19th at 37%.

The Jaguars defense ranks 9th in the league by holding opponents to a 35% success rate on 3rd down, while the Giants defense ranks 31st at 46%.

New York ranks 5th in average time-of-possession at 31:49, Jacksonville 7th at 31:35.

Both of these teams have been hit hard by injuries, so handicappers might want to check the injury lists before making a call. Notably, though, is Giants RB Tiki Barber, who leads the league in rushing at 971 yards. Barber sprained a thumb last week vs. Chicago, and it certainly seemed to affect his performance thereafter. Barber is expected to play Monday night.

The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at rank the Jags a somewhat surprising 4th at 28.6, New York 8th at 25.8.

The O/U is 4-4-1 in Giants games this season, 4-5 in J-Ville games.

The Jaguars opened up as three-point favorites for Monday night’s game, with a total of as much as 39. Jacksonville has since been bet up a point or so at most sportsbooks, and the total has dropped by a point or so.