Time: 1 PM ET, Oct 4 2015
Spread: BUF -5
M/L: BUF -230; NYG +190
Betting odds c/o Bovada
The Buffalo Bills have jumped out of the gates with a surprising 2-1 record which could easily be 3-0 behind the arm of first-year starter Tyrod Taylor. Taylor and the Bills will play host to Eli Manning and the Giants in a game which NFL Oddsmakers favor the Bills by 5-points. The betting total is set at 46.5 for the contest which will air at 1 PM EDT on Fox.
Taylor ranks No. 5 in QB rating this season at 116.1, and in the first three starts of his career he is establishing himself as a potential star. Meanwhile, his opposing QB Eli Manning ranks No. 12 in QB rating and has not a single interception on his 108 pass attempts.
The only man doing better at avoiding picks is a Mr. Tom Brady. Manning has had just two INTs over his last eight starts, and that is something he had typically had trouble with in the past after having 39 interceptions in 27 games from the start of 2013, the worst in the NFL.
The Giants still are just 1-2 on the season, but it has been in games and has a turnover differential of plus-4. Buffalo is tied for No. 2 in that category at plus-5. It is a good sign for both teams that the defenses are clicking, and that is reflected in the relatively low over/under for this game.
Though Taylor has thrown three picks, all of them came in the Week 2 loss to the Patriots and following that contest he had his best career game. He was 21 of 29 in a win over Buffalo last week, as he amassed 277 yards and three TDs. He has thrown an outstanding 74.4 percent for completion, ranking only behind Brady and Aaron Rodgers.
Taylor is the first Bills QB to complete more than 70 percent of his passes while throwing seven TDs or more, since Jim Kelly did it back in ’91. Coach Rex Ryan said of him, “We know he is legit.” Heads around the NFL are turning and nodding in agreement, and Buffalo could easily prove its worth if it prevails as NFL oddsmakers expect.
While Taylor is outstanding, it will hurt having LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins out of the lineup. McCoy has battled a hamstring issue this year and has rushed for just 146 yards on 43 carries this year. His timetable of return is unclear, and he re-injured his hamstring late last month which could hold him out longer than the Bills can stand.
Even so, vaunted rookie backup Karlos Williams could come out and impress. He rushed for 110 yards on 12 carries against Miami and he also scored a TD in his first three NFL games, a feat not accomplished since the rookie version of Percy Harvin six seasons ago. Ryan said, “We have got plenty of weapons.”
That is likely true and the Bills should be able to take control of this contest. Buffalo should even be able to cover the 5-point spread in this game, though the over/under is a dicey bet given the Bills’ subtractions from the lineup. New York has the lowest ranked pass defense, but Buffalo has the second-worst pass defense. The Bills do it on the ground, ranking No. 1 in rushing yards even with a gimpy McCoy.
The Giants were hoping it can take advantage of Buffalo’s secondary with Victor Cruz debuting this year and Odell Beckham Jr. being the young beast he is. Cruz, however, wass ruled out of action as a precautionary measure after expressing that he felt some soreness in his calf early this week. He missed the final 10 games last season after rupturing his right patella and though he had planned to be back for the season opener, the calf injury was likely a result of overcompensating and Giants fans are hoping when he does return he does so at 100 percent health.
The Giants really need to focus on getting its run attack going, as it has averaged just 90.7 yards per game and 3.4 yards per attempt, ranking last in the NFL in both categories. No Giant has rushed for 100 yards this season.
That only further makes Manning’s performance crucial. Manning said “It’s a long season and there’s a lot of football to play,” but that optimism is understandable when the team is 1-2. Falling to 1-3 this week may dampen sports. New York has won three of the last four meetings between the clubs including the last two at home. This seems like the year the Bills break that streak, and NFL oddsmakers are in full accord.