Giants vs. Titans: Preview, predictions, what to watch for

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An inside look at Sunday’s Giants-Titans Week 1 matchup in Nashville, Tenn.

Daily News | Online News Marquee matchup

Titans DT Jeffery Simmons vs. Giants interior offensive line

This rebuilt group has Mark Glowinski at right guard, Jon Feliciano at center and either Ben Bredeson or rookie Josh Ezeudu at left guard. Simmons was the No. 19-overall pick in the 2019 draft and last season made his first Pro Bowl after achieving career highs in sacks (8.5) and tackles (54).

Glowinski has 74 NFL starts on his résumé and Feliciano has 39, so they have plenty of experience to use the tricks of the trade to keep Simmons out of the backfield. Another Titans defensive lineman, Denico Autry, had nine sacks and a team-high 18 quarterback hits in 2021, making this a tough debut for the Giants’ interior group.

Daily News | Online News Jeffery Simmons and Jon Feliciano
Jeffery Simmons and Jon Feliciano
Getty Images; Corey Sipkin

Daily News | Online News Paul’s pick

Can the Giants avoid their late-summer tradition of being 0-1? Their schedule is more than fair, but no one did Brian Daboll any favors with this tough opener on the road against the 2021 No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. The offense is healthy and Daniel Jones has his playmakers on the field with him. Let’s see what this new-look attack looks like and if it can muster enough points. And let’s see if anyone can tackle Derrick Henry.

Titans 27, Giants 20

Daily News | Online News Four downs

Home run hitters: For a huge man, Derrick Henry can go the distance. Since 2018, he has nine rushing touchdowns of 50 or more yards, the most in the NFL. Care to take a guess who is second on that list? Why, it’s Saquon Barkley, with six rushing touchdowns of 50 or more yards. Nick Chubb of the Browns is third with five.

Henry did it in 55 games (815 rushing attempts). Barkley did it in 44 games (659 attempts) and Chubb did it in 58 (908 attempts). It is easy to forget what a big-play running back Barkley was when he was fully healthy. He is fully healthy to start his fifth season with the Giants.

New role: The release, for salary-cap reasons, of James Bradberry made Adoree’ Jackson the No. 1 cover guy on a defense that is unproven everywhere else at cornerback. The 2017 first-round pick of the Titans faces his former team for the first time, and faces a revamped wide receiver group featuring veteran Robert Woods (acquired in a trade with the Rams) and rookie Treylon Burks, taken with the No. 18-overall pick out of Arkansas. It is imperative for the Giants that Jackson play like a top-tier corner, given the depth chart at this position.

“It’s just going to be fun seeing them, chopping it up with them,’’ Jackson said of his former Titans teammates. “Probably get a jersey after the game or two so that’s going to be nice.’’

Got to run: On first-and-10, the Titans ran the ball an NFL-high 61.5 percent of the time in 2021, despite Henry playing in just eight games. The ground is where they want to be, which is why the Giants’ surprising release of inside linebacker Blake Martinez is sure to be felt in this game. Tae Crowder returns as a starter, presumably along with Austin Calitro, who defines the term “journeyman.’’ He was undrafted out of Villanova, and the Giants are his ninth different NFL team and his 11th different NFL stop. He has played in 47 games and started nine of them — none since 2019 with the Jaguars.

“I’m definitely excited waiting for this opportunity to come back around,’’ Calitro said. “I knew I could do it. It’s just a matter of getting coaches and a front office that believes in me. I found that here.’’

Taking offense: The last time the Giants took the field in a game that counted, they were finishing up a stretch of some of the worst offensive football in franchise history — a six-week slog to end the 2021 season in which they averaged barely more than nine points a game.

The decision-makers on offense — Daboll and coordinator and play-caller Mike Kafka — are here to make sure the product is greatly improved. Creativity has replaced predictability, and that should bode well for Kadarius Toney, who struggled through a mostly dismal rookie year. Watch for rookie second-round pick Wan’Dale Robinson to also benefit from a system that has a history of freeing up the main weapons.

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