The 2020 campaign begins at home for the New York Giants as they host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football.
The most recent matchup between the teams was on December 4, 2016, which was a 24-14 Giants loss. For Pittsburgh, the same QB will be behind center in this matchup, Ben Roethlisberger who begins his 17th season and for New York, Daniel Jones will start his first career week one game.
Pittsburgh is currently is a five and a half point favorite according to Caesars Sports Book. The Giants look to pull the home upset and win their first season and home opener since 2016.
Here are the key matchups to look for on Monday Night.
Giants O-Line vs Steelers Front 7
The New York Giants come in with new pieces to protect Daniel Jones. They drafted OT Andrew Thomas with the fourth overall pick and signed OT Cameron Fleming. Thomas will start at LT after Nate Solder the Giants second-highest-paid player opted out. Nick Gates is the week one starter at center, last season he started three games at guard. Dave Gettleman who is known for his acumen regarding the “hog mollies” main goal this offseason was to improve offensive line play.
For the Steelers, they had a formidable front seven last season, all of whom return in 2020. Their linebacker unit may be tops in football with 2019 First Team All-Pro T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree who had 11.5 sacks, and Devin Bush who had four fumble recoveries and two interceptions in his rookie season.
The Steelers last season had the second-most interceptions and forced fumbles in the NFL. The biggest issue for Jones last season was holding onto the football, he led the league with 18 fumbles. If the Steelers can replicate pressure from last season on Jones it will be a rough night.
Due to Big Blue not matching up in terms of skill, they are going to have to establish the run. Luckily their most skilled offensive weapon is Saquon Barkley. If Saquon remains a threat, the pursuit of Jones will be less frequent.
Steelers WRs vs. Giants Secondary
As mentioned in our season preview, the Giants secondary will have a different look in 2020. CB James Bradberry inked a three-year deal and similar to Janoris Jenkins will become the number one corner after signing. Opposite him will be Corey Ballatine who started three games as a rookie in 2019.
Another rookie who showcased potential last year was DeAndre Baker. He was recently released after being placed on the commissioner’s exempt list due to being arrested in May and charged with four counts of armed robbery.
This has led to a next man up mentality and that man has been fourth-round draft pick, Darnay Holmes. The Giants also signed veteran Logan Ryan who will be a backup in week one. Jabrill Peppers will start at safety, after a solid first season with New York.
Smith-Schuster sustained both head and knee injuries but started in 12 games. Johnson and Washington took a bigger role when JuJu was unavailable but with Big Ben only playing seven games they weren’t major threats.
Big Ben is back in the saddle to deliver but he has regressed in recent years. Big Blue’s secondary is still outmatched but not as vast as their o-line is. The Giants’ secondary gelling early on is imperative in this one.
Judge’s First Case
It isn’t a matchup per se, but Joe Judge coaching in his first game will be what will intrigue most Giants fans.
This season hasn’t begun for the Giants and already there have been challenges to overcome, the most prominent being a global pandemic. Along with that, Judge is trying to instill a new culture under the microscope of the number one media market. His tactics at times have been unusual from no-name jersey policy and most recently restarting practice.
On Monday it will be the payoff New York has been waiting for since he was hired on January 8th and although it’s not the be-all and end-all the first game sets the tone for what’s to come.