This Sunday is the start of the football pre-season. Yes I know that the Hall of Fame game means even less then the rest of the pre-season, nonetheless it is still the beginning of the football season and for that I am excited. I’m also aware that picking a winner in these games are meaningless since most of the starters play a series or two possibly a half before they get benched.Nonetheless I’m going to try and pick the winner anyway, therefore I will not be looking at individual performance while trying to determine a winner but at the team as a whole. I know that each team has made changes on each side of the ball and that injured players who had their seasons cut short are back, with that said I can only use the data I have to pick the winner and that means using the stats from last season at least for the first week of the pre-season.
Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel is entering his second season in the league and he has arguably the best wide receiver in this year’s draft to throw too as well as returning up and coming receivers Marquise Goodwin who had a 53% reception ratio last year and Robert Woods who was the second leading wide receiver on the team and third overall in receptions. Notably missing from the Bills wide receiving corps is Stevie Johnson who signed with the San Fransisco 49ers. Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller return in the running game gives the Bills a legitimate ground attack. The Bills defense will be missing star linebacker Kiko Alonso who led the team last year in tackles and interceptions.
The Giants have retooled their offense first with a new offensive coordinator. Second the Giants have some question marks behind Victor Cruz at wide receiver especially with Hakeem Nicks signing with the Indianapolis Colts. In the running game expect Rashad Jennings and Peyton Hillis to get most of the playing team. On defense the Giants have retooled their defensive line, secondary and upgraded their linebacking corps.
The Bills offensively completed 57.3 % of their passes, with a TD/INT differential of 0.2, their YAC average was 5.4 while their offensive line gave up an average of 3.6 sacks a game and on the ground they averaged 4.22 yards a carry. The Giants offensively completed 57.3% of their passes with a TD/INT ratio of -1.9 they had a YAC average of 4.8 and the offensive line was giving up an average of 2.1 sacks a game and on the ground they averaged 3.5 yards a carry. While the Bills quarterbacks appear to be holding onto the ball to long they seem to have done a better job protecting the ball. While E.J. Manuel and Eli Manning may not play for most of the game the Giants are taking a new offensive system into battle for the first time while the Bills are not. Edge:Bills
Defensively the Bills allowed their opponents to complete 55.3 % of their passes posting a 0.9 TD/INT differential they allowed receivers to compile 5.5 YAC average and allowed runners to gain 4.38 yards a carry while they averaged 3 sacks a game. The Giants allowed their opponents to complete 60.1% of their passes posting a 0.7 TD/INT differential they allowed receivers to compile a 4.7 YAC average and allowed runners to gain 3.5 yards a carry while averaging 2.5 sacks a game. The Bills defense is missing its leading tackler as well its interception leader Kiko Alonso, and the Giants are missing Jon Beason with that said the loss of Alonso hurts the Bills more than the loss of Beason hurts the Giants. Edge:Giants
The Key matchup in this game will be Sammy Watkins vs the Giants secondary. The Giants secondary last season wasn’t very good and they have made some upgrades, the explosive Sammy Watkins will be a good first test to see just how much the secondary was upgraded.
When everything is said and done I think the Bills have the better second and third string quarterbacks and since the pre-season is more or less their time to shine, I think the Bills win a close one.
Final Score: Bills 17 Giants 13