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Giants Kickoff: Three things to watch for in Week 9

Here we are, back for another week of Giants football. No matter how good or bad the team is, I'm always fired up for game day. The Giants head back out west, this time to sin city where they will take on the Las Vegas Raiders. Both teams are struggling coming into this one. The Raiders have lost two in a row while the Giants have lost, well, nevermind..... Kickoff is slated for 4:25pm EST from Allegiant Stadium. The Giants are a one and a half point underdog.

Quarterback carousel.....on both sides

The Giants will have starting quarterback Daniel Jones back for the first time in three weeks on Sunday afternoon. This, I'm sure, is a relief for Brian Daboll and the rest of the organization. After seeing Tyrod Taylor go down with a rib injury last week and then Tommy Devito throwing for -1 passing yards, there is a lot to be excited about with Jones back and manning (pun intended) the offense. The injury bug has shredded pretty much every position for the Giants, and the quarterback room has struggled to tread above water over the last few weeks. It was great to see Tyrod Taylor get another shot to start in the NFL and Tommy Devito, the pride of Don Bosco Prep, get an opportunity but hopefully the return of Daniel Jones could bring some continuity to a Giants offense that has scored a collective 33 points over the last three games (11 points per game).

The Raiders are going through a bit of a quarterback controversy of their own, but not because of injury. Earlier this week, Mark Davis (Raiders owner) fired GM Dave Ziegler, head coach Josh McDaniels, and offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi in a move we all knew would come at some point.

What did former Giants and new Las Vegas Raiders head coach Antonio Pierce do when he was elevated to interim head coach? He benched Jimmy Garoppolo in favor of rookie Aidan O'Connell. O'Connell stepped in on two occasions against the Chargers and Bears this year when Garoppolo was injured, and will be the guy moving forward.

What does this mean for the Giants? Well it means that they will have to game plan for an entirely different approach with a new head coach and quarterback being named mid-week for the Raiders. As stated above, O'Connell has limited experience on the field this year and it may be a bit of a rough start for him as he adjusts to the speed and flow of a full NFL game. The Giants defense should try and exploit him, bringing pressure early and often, to throw him and the offense off balance.

Kayvon Thibodeaux is here to stay

Last week's game against the Jets may have been Thibodeaux's best showing of his young career. He finished with a game high three sacks, with one being a strip sack early in the game, and three QB hits. Thibodeaux was all over the field last Sunday continually proving that he was worth the number 5 pick in the 2022 NFL draft. He currently sits behind a few noteworthy NFL stars for the league lead in sacks heading into week 9.

Per NFL Player Defense Stats 2023

Not only did Thibodeaux step up last week, but he has consistently done so over the past two games for the Giants after a rough start to the season. WFAN even hung up on Giants legend Carl Banks when he was pleading his Kayvon Thibodeaux case before last week's game. Hopefully WFAN learned a lesson and will now change their position on him because, let's face it, Kayvon Thibodeaux is one of the most talented players on this defense and a guy that understands the game of football at a super high level.

Giants defense vs Raiders offense

The Giants defense is rock solid. They have officially found their groove and are consistently getting strong play from each level. The defensive line, with Dexter Lawrence clogging the inside and Kayvon Thibodeaux rushing from the outside, is proving to be one of the best in the league. Bobby Okereke and Micah McFadden are bringing a presence from the linebacking corps that the Giants pretty much haven't had since the likes of Mathias Kiwanuka and Antonio Pierce were on the team. The secondary is young, but hungry. Deonte Banks had a bit of a rough week against Garret Wilson but has been great overall, while guys like Cor'Dale Flott and Tre Hawkins III are consistently getting opportunities to produce.

They currently rank 12th in the league against the pass (211.5 Yards per game), are 5th in the league in opponent 3rd down % (33.7%), and are registering 23.4 points per game which is a big step up from where they were over the first five weeks of the season (giving up 30.6 points per game).

They have a formidable matchup against a Raiders offense that has been mediocre throughout the first eight weeks of the season. The Raiders have the 31st ranked offense - behind only the Giants who sit in 32nd - registering a measly 268.2 yards per game. Josh Jacobs has not reached the 80 yard rushing mark so far this season and the Raiders rank dead last with an average of 70 rushing yards per game. The passing offense has struggled mightily and star wide receiver Davante Adams asked before the trade deadline last week if he could be moved.

Last week, Adams was targeted seven times and caught one pass for 11 yards. Deonte Banks will get the call against Adams this week and hopefully he can continue his consistent strong play in coverage against one of the league's best.

The Raiders certainly have a plethora of offensive game changers, but with so many question marks still up in the air on that side of the ball, the Giants should still be able to show up and have a nice day defensively.

Final Thoughts

Both teams are terrible, I'm not going to sugarcoat it. We may see another ugly, low scoring game here but this matchup is one I feel the most confident about. This Raider team will be the worst team the Giants play this season, so the Giants will need to capitalize.

The tank for Caleb Williams murmurs continue, but the Giants just need to go out and play sound, disciplined football. They're two games back from the Vikings for the last Wild Card playoff spot in the NFC, so hey, a postseason run is still in the cards. Hopefully, as they get healthier, we'll start to see them string some wins together throughout the back half of the 2023 season.

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