The New York Giants are left to lick their wounds after a demoralizing Week 2 loss to the Chicago Bears that included a final drive stopped just 10 yards from the winning score and the season-ending loss of star running back Saquon Barkley, who tore his ACL.
Now the 0-2 squad limps into Week 3 against a dangerous San Francisco 49ers team that’s plenty hobbled itself — but still the obvious favorites.
Here are a few things to watch out for on Sunday afternoon (1 p.m. ET, FOX):
Life without Saquon
The Giants will be without their most dynamic star for the remainder of the season after Barkley tore his ACL during the second quarter of Sunday’s loss.
It forced the team to quickly scramble to find an early-down back, doing so in the form of free-agent Devonta Freeman, who formerly starred for the Atlanta Falcons.
He took less money to come to the Giants — a $3 million pact as more of a “show me” deal that would re-cement the notion that Freeman still is an invaluable contributor in an NFL backfield.
Expect him to see a good number of carries on Sunday at MetLife Stadium where he’ll be supported by Dion Lewis.
Week 3 reprieve for O-Line?
The Giants’ offensive line hasn’t shown much improvement from last season — even with a glimpse of competence during the early portions of Week 1 against the Steelers.
After just two games, Big Blue’s O-line has allowed the second-most pressures in the league. Second-year quarterback Daniel Jones has been sacked seven times and the Giants’ ground game has been a complete non-factor, gaining just 55 yards on 30 attempts.
While the 49ers’ defense is one of the more vaunted units in the game, they’ll be without some key contributors due to injuries as Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas, and Dee Ford will be unable to go. That could mean the pass rush bearing down on Jones won’t be as intense this weekend.
Stopping the run
The Giants’ run defense has been shambolic so far this season, which is a recipe for disaster against a 49ers team that can be run-heavy behind Raheem Mostert, Jerick McKinnon, and Tevin Coleman.
In two games this season, the Giants have allowed 276 yards on the ground, including 113 to Benny Snell of the Steelers and a combined 107 to David Montgomery and Cordarrelle Patterson.
San Francisco’s seventh-ranked run game will certainly try to exploit that in Week 3.