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NFL countdown: Giants’ fate rests on Daniel Jones’ shoulders

This is the sixth in a series of 32 NFL team betting previews in 32 days leading up to the league’s Sept. 10 season opener. We’ll count down the teams from the lowest season win total to the highest.

A new era dawned for the New York Giants last season, when rookie Daniel Jones took over at quarterback for two-time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning.

Jones, the sixth overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft, started the final 12 games, and now it’s his team after Manning retired in the offseason. Jones showed promise, completing almost 62 percent of his passes for 3,027 yards and 24 touchdowns.

But he also had a problem protecting the ball, with 12 interceptions and losing 11 of his league-leading 18 fumbles.

“I actually like Daniel Jones. He had a lot of games last season when he was good,” Sunset Station sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “He turned the ball over too many times, but he didn’t have a tremendous supporting cast.”

Jones will play for a new coach in Joe Judge, the fourth coach for the Giants since Tom Coughlin left after the 2015 season. Judge spent the past eight years as an assistant with the New England Patriots, most recently as their special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach.

But it’s not the pickup of Judge that Esposito thinks will have the biggest impact for the Giants, who were 4-12 last season. That distinction belongs to Jason Garrett, who was hired as their offensive coordinator after going 87-70 in 9½ years as the Dallas Cowboys’ coach.

“Hiring Jason Garrett was the big acquisition,” Esposito said. “He knows the division, having played all the teams twice every season, and he inherits a young, talented offense. I’m looking to see how he does as an offensive coordinator without the responsibility of being a head coach.”

Jones should have more help this season. Running back Saquon Barkley missed three games last season but still rushed for 1,003 yards and six touchdowns. Esposito sees a healthy Barkley as one of the two or three best running backs in the league.

The Giants defense was 25th in yards and 30th in points allowed. It was good against the run, allowing 3.8 yards per carry, but the 19 rushing touchdowns it gave up was among the league’s worst. They’ll rely on a young group to try to improve.

The good news for the Giants is they play in the NFC East, the only division that didn’t have a 10-game winner last season. The Eagles won the division at 9-7.

The Giants’ win total is 6½ at the Westgate, and the under is shaded to -135. But Esposito sees them as a potential .500 team, meaning he favors the over.

“I could see them winning more than 6½ games,” Esposito said. “The division is always so competitive. When you look at Philadelphia and Dallas, they both have question marks. I could see the Giants encroaching on an 8-8 season.”

Contact Jason Orts at jorts@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2936. Follow @SportsWithOrts on Twitter.

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