The banged-up Giants may be on a long losing streak, but Romilly Evans predicts they can restore some dignity in this game which starts in the early hours of Monday morning...
"If Peyton Manning once made it rain in this section of the Rockies, the best Trevor Siemian can manage is a passing shower"
New York Giants @ Denver Broncos
Start-time: Monday, 01:30
TV: Live on Sky Sports Action
Big Blue can at least avoid another depressing result
When my editor dropped this match on my lap this week, I thought I was going to struggle to generate the requisite word count. After all, on paper, this looks like the proverbial foregone conclusion. The New York Giants have lost their top four receivers to injury (including their headline act, and perhaps the league's best, in Odell Beckham Jnr, who is out till 2018) while the Denver Broncos' dominant defense coughs up the fewest yards in the league. In short, it's the immoveable object meets the all-too-resistible force. And the immoveable object is at home. While the all-too-resistible force is 3-9 in recent road games west of the Missisippi. Enough said, surely?
Well, after closer inspection, maybe not. Chiefly because, for all the storied advantage of playing at Mile High's mountaintop fortress, the Broncos are giving up nearly two touchdowns here. It would've been a field goal at the season's outset. But now they face a two-time Super Bowl winner in Eli Manning, at the head of a wounded army with something to prove. So while their ranks may be depleted, these fallen Giants can rise to the late-night occasion.
Big games seldom get to Manning Jnr, since he's made his name delivering when the planets (or more immediately an imposing Denver D) align against him. He knows how to play in this rarefied air and has a point to prove, with the likes of Roger Lewis Jr. and Tavarres King filling in on the wideouts, and Brett Jones starting at center. Orleans Darkwa and Wayne Gallman will once more share the load at running back (yet another pair of untapped potential) so these Giants will not lack for motivaton under the national televised spotlight. After all, careers invariably hinge on such understudy opportunities.
On the other side of the ball, though, and fresh off a bye week, the Broncos lie in wait under the white-hot Trevor Siemian (three words that I never thought would follow in swift succession). The Denver quarterback has certainly dented his detractors' diatribes this term with some impressive performances, both of composure and even arm strength. Yet the suspicion persists that he is still to be truly tested in a soft schedule, and definitive conclusions lie ahead on the road. Of course, Big Blue are also down in the dumps defensively, but they should see this as an opportunity to surprise, rather than another chance to fail against a QB whose fundamentals remain underwhelming. If Peyton Manning once made it rain in this section of the Rockies, the best Siemian can manage is a passing shower.
Denver's D naturally provides Siemian with the biggest shot to his throwing arm. The 3-1 Broncos enter Sunday night with the No. 1 defense in yards allowed per game (260.8), including a league-low 50.8 yards rushing. Von Miller and Co also proved the key differentiator when winning three of the last four games against New York. Neverthless, the fabled Book of Eli reminds us that he can often hit his targets through the tightest gaps, and a raucous Sports Authority Field should shake this sleeping Giant from his slumber. Indeed, his offense is only being asked to connect for two touchdowns on the Vegas line in a game that could be end-to-end-zone in trademark missteps and misadventure.
So take the Giants to banish some of their bigger blues on that winding queue at sanatorium to the MRI machine. They may not prevail, but the still have the combined moves and collective motive to keep this one close. For, while they surely are a 0-5 team, three of those defeats (Philly, Tampa and LA) arrived in buzzer-time late-shows. Expect Manning to keep the curtain raised until at least the fourth quarter this evening.
Back New York Giants (+11.5) to win on the Match Points Spread @ 1.9520/21 or better
Back New York Giants (+6.5) to win on the First Half Points Spread @ 1.9110/11 or better
Back Over 13.5 New York Giants Total Points @ 1.9110/11 or better