5 things to watch as Giants face Texans in Week 10 of 2022 NFL season
The Giants are coming off their bye week this Sunday in a very different New York football season than most anyone would have imagined a few months ago.
It’s all big doings now, starting with Week 10 when the Houston Texans come to MetLife Stadium for a 1 p.m. tilt with the 6-2 G-Men. Houston (1-6-1) enjoyed a mini-bye of their own, since they played the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 3, the Thursday night game that opened Week 9.
The Texans have struggled to score – their 16.6 points per game is ranked 28th, six spots behind the Giants (20.4). Houston is 29th in passing yards, one spot ahead of the Giants, and 29th in total yards per game.
Both running games figure to be key. Here’s a look at that and more in five things to watch for the Giants in Week 10:
The Texans have given up the most rushing yards in the NFL (180.6 yards per game), and they also allow 5.5 yards per carry (tied for second worst with the Giants). Seems like an ideal matchup for Saquon Barkley-led Big Blue, no? The Texans have given up at least 136 yards in every game except Week 4, when they allowed 81 to the Chargers in a loss. In Week 8, the Titans blistered them for 314 yards and in Week 3 the Bears ran for 281. Barkley ranks third in the league in rushing (779 yards) and is also third in yards from scrimmage (968). He is averaging 97.4 yards per game on the ground, a total that could go up on Sunday.
Don’t get Pierce’d
Dameon Pierce, the Texans’ power running back, is a candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year and Wink Martindale said this week that Pierce “might be the angriest runner in the league.” The Giants defensive coordinator also tossed some lofty comparisons at the fourth-round pick, who has 678 yards rushing so far: Earl Campbell and Jamal Lewis. “Old, old school,” Martindale added.
Pierce leads rookie runners in rushing and scrimmage yards (776) and is the only rookie in the league with two games of 125-plus yards rushing. He ran for 139 yards in Week 9, helping Houston stay in the game against the undefeated Eagles. The Giants will have to figure out a way to slow Pierce, which should be a challenge. The Giants are allowing 5.5 yards per rush, tied for second worst in the NFL with Houston.
Is Sunday Kenny’s (Golla)day?
Kenny Golladay suffered a knee injury against the Bears on Oct. 2 and hasn’t played since, but there was hope during the week that he could play against Houston. If so, it could give Daniel Jones another target. It’s been a topsy-turvy season in the receivers room for the Giants thanks to injuries, so Golladay might have an impact. Of course, it remains to be seen how much he’ll play. He only has two catches, both in the season opener, for 22 yards. He got limited snaps in the next three games, including just two in Week 2 against the Panthers, before getting hurt.
Xavier McKinney has been a mainstay on defense for the Giants, but he’s out for at least the next four weeks with a hand injury after his ill-fated ATV trip on the bye week. How do the Giants replace the safety, their fourth-leading tackler, and what impact does it have on their ability to slow the Texans? Julian Love gets more responsibility immediately. He’ll wear the green dot in McKinney’s place, meaning he will get the defensive play calls from the sideline and then communicate them to the rest of the defenders. Love, the only Giants player with an interception, leads the team with 58 tackles.
Rookie Dane Belton, a fourth-round pick, figures to see more important time, too, and he’s already been in on some important plays – he’s got two fumble recoveries in seven games. Jason Pinnock, who was claimed off waivers from the Jets in August, has seen almost all of his action in five games on special teams, but he could also get reps at safety.
With the Giants’ impressive start come heightened hopes. They’re not just the plucky rebuilding team anymore; they’re firmly in the playoff hunt and two games behind Philadelphia in the division. And with that positioning come certain pressures. Can the Giants handle weighty expectations, especially starting their second half with two very winnable games at home? The Texans are 1-6-1 and next week’s opponent, the Detroit Lions, go into Week 10 at 2-6. Well-coached, playoff-level teams win those kinds of games. After the matchup with the Lions, the cauldron of four consecutive NFC East games awaits.