2014 NFL Hall of Fame Game Pick New York Giants at Buffalo Bills NFL Pick, Odds, Prediction 8/3/14
New York Giants (0-0) at Buffalo Bills (0-0)
NFL Football: Sunday, August 3, 2014 at 8:00 pm (Fawcett Stadium)
The Line: Buffalo Bills -1.5 -- Over/Under: 32.5 See the Latest Odds
The Bills and Giants kick off the 2014 NFL Preseason in a battle of teams looking to rebound from poor showings last season.
The Buffalo Bills finished last season 6-10 and haven’t had a winning season since 2004. While the running game is potent in Buffalo with star backs Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller, the passing game is very much in flux as the Bills started three different QB’s last season with E.J. Manuel, Thaddeus Lewis, and Jeff Tuel all seeing work throughout the season. Head coach Doug Marrone has tagged Manuel as the starter coming into the season, but with Lewis posting a 2-4 record last year with two of those losses coming in OT and a slightly better completion percentage, you have to figure that could change under the right circumstances. With WR Stevie Johnson now playing for the 49ers after posting 1,000+ yards in three of the last four seasons, the Bills are taking a leap that their young pass catchers will be able to get the job done. 1st round draft pick Sammy Watkins will look to duplicate his impressive body of work at Clemson at the professional level, Robert Woods will look to build on a strong rookie year where he caught 40 balls for 587 yards, and TE Scott Chandler will look to continue his development after increasing his number of catches in each of the last three seasons, culminating with 53 catches for 655 yards while playing in all 16 games last season. On defense the Bills have some work to do as they finished last season ranking 20th in the league while allowing 24.3 points per game. Buffalo brought in Jim Schwartz as defensive coordinator, initiating a switch to a 4-3 defense. Schwartz never really had the Lions defense under control as a head coach, but will again have talent up front led by sack specialist Mario Williams. Unfortunately for the Bills, their pass defense that ranked 4th allowing 204.4 yards per game last season is likely to get worse with the departure of stud safety Jairus Byrd. The Bills are also significantly weaker at linebacker with the season-ending ACL injury to Kiko Alonso, who led the team by a wide margin in tackles.
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The New York Giants finished last season 7-9 and had the unfavorable distinction of leading the league in turnovers with 44. QB Eli Manning contributed to the bulk of that turnover total throwing 27 interceptions on the year. Manning’s protection was at least partially to blame though as he took 39 sacks on the season. The Giants probably haven’t done enough to bolster their offensive line though, and further complicating matters is a shaky backfield. Veteran backup Rashad Jennings is currently listed as the top back on the depth chart, followed by 4th round draft pick Andre Williams, and declining veteran Peyton Hillis. In the passing game Eli Manning loses former top wideout Hakeem Nicks, leaving Victor Cruz to lead the charge coming off another impressive season where he nearly booked over a thousand yards receiving if not for missing two games. Complementing Cruz will be third year starter Reuben Randle and Mario Manningham who returns to New York after a couple unproductive seasons with the 49ers; the TE position is embarrassingly inexperienced. On defense the Giants have some work to do after ranking 18th in the league while allowing 23.9 points per game. The Giants bolstered their secondary with the signing of CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and S Quintin Demps (who will also play a role in the return game). Jason Pierre-Paul will continue to undertake the main sack duty up front and Jon Beason will shore up the linebacker position after finishing second on the team in total tackles last year behind safety Antrelle Rolle.
Both of these teams have plenty of holes and question marks coming into the season making this game a poor wagering opportunity in the grand scheme of the preseason. The Bills have a slight edge with QB depth in terms of both quality and professional experience behind the starter, but it’s nothing overwhelmingly significant to make this a strong play. Crack a beer and tune in but save your bankroll for better opportunities.