The Giant Insider Online

NFL Week 3 GameDay: NY Giants at Houston

The Houston Texans (0-2) host the winless New York Giants in an interconference clash between two teams desperate for a win. Houston is a 6.5-point favorite against the offensively-challenged Giants and the fan bases of both teams are getting nervous.

Kickoff: 1:00 EST
Site: NRG Stadium
Referee: Walt Coleman
TV: FOX Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber, Megan Olivi (Field reporter)
Radio: WFAN 660AM/101.9FM Bob Papa, Carl Banks and Howard Cross

Giants injuries: LB Olivier Vernon (ankle), CB Eli Apple: OUT

The Giants lead their series with the Texans, 3-1. They have won three straight games in the series since losing in Houston in 2002. This is just the Giants’ fifth visit to Houston since they first played there in 1984. They are 3-1 in Houston, beating the Oilers in 1985 and 1994, and the Texans in 2010.

It’s only Week 3, but all the games count in the NFL, so this game is significant for these teams.

The loser has virtually no chance at the postseason

0-2 teams have made the postseason in the past even though the odds are slim. The Giants did it in 2007 and went on the win the Super Bowl. But since then, teams that began 0-2 have made the playoffs just 12% of the time.

An 0-3 start is a death sentence. Since 1980, there have been 168 teams to start a season 0-3, with only five of them going on to make the playoffs. That’s 2.9 percent.

No 0-3 team has gone onto the playoffs since the Buffalo Bills in 1998. But that was a Bills team that won four straight AFC Championships. These Giants are lucky if they can win a single game, never mind string together nine or ten victories.

Houston is in a division with Jacksonville, Tennessee and Indianapolis, three teams that are ascending. An 0-3 start would basically put them in an insurmountable hole and they’d have to rely on making the playoffs as a wild card. Good luck with that.

What will Saquon Barkley do this week?

In his first game as a pro, Saquon Barkley ripped off a long run against the Cleveland Browns in a preseason game. Then, he suffered a leg injury in practice and was shelved for the remainder of the preseason.

In his first regular season game, against the Jaguars, he ran for 106 yards highlighted by a 68-yard blast that left the Jacksonville defense in the wind. Against the Cowboys last week, Barkley caught a franchise-record 14 passes.

The Giants may have been too reliant on Barkley here too early, but he’s ready for whatever they throw at him. He is resigned to accept any role the coaches give him.

“Touches are touches to me,” he said. “I’m not one of those guys that needs the ball 30 times, run the ball 30 times or catch the ball 15 times. I really don’t care if it’s five touches a game. At the end of the day I just want to win. I want to do whatever it takes to win this game and if that’s the way it helps to help the team win, I’m much more willing to do.”

Who will get the blame if the Giants lose again?

Head coach Pat Shurmur is taking the brunt of the flak so far, but at some point that’s not going to be good enough. He’s going to have show the fans and the media that he’s the guy who is going to turn the Giants back into contenders again.

Shurmur is a low key guy, thoughtful in his responses to inquiries, but while the world around him panics, Shurmur has remained calm.

“How I feel doesn’t always have to come out in my comments,” Shurmur told WFAN’s Mike Francesa. “This is not the place to talk about corrections. Everybody needs to play better. I get it. When you lose, let’s assign the blame and move on. I get that. I realize that. When you don’t win, none of us did what we had to do to help us win. You move on. You live with it and learn with it.”

He might have to live and learn for an entire season until his boss, general manager Dave Gettleman finds two or three more quality offensive lineman, a pass rusher and a viable free safety. Right now, those are the glaring weaknesses that threaten to make his first season as head coach a living hell.

You can blame Shurmur. He can take it. So can Gettleman. Jerry Reese and Ben McAdoo are gone. You can blame them, too, if you want. Then there’s the fans, who read too much into what it takes for a team to be a winner. They can be blamed, along with some pundits, for overhyping the team.

As Bill Parcells used to say, “you are what your record says you are.”

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