FBG says: Good matchup. The Tampa Bay offensive line keeps proving itself a quality run-blocking unit, from left tackle Donovan Smith all the way across a strong interior. Unfortunately, there may not be enough talent in the backfield to capitalize. Ronald Jones II continues to struggle, popping in and out of the team's plans as a result. He saw only eight snaps Thursday, and while he carried the ball on four of them, he was completely neutralized by the Panthers (just nine yards). Plodding starter Peyton Barber didn't fare much better; he recorded a 16-yard touchdown, but his other 22 attempts netted just 66. That's the extent of this attack, as Dare Ogunbowale isn't a factor on rushing downs. Coach Bruce Arians has never cared much to fine-tune his running game, so a ho-hum line like this is usually a fair baseline to project for whoever has the "hot" hand in a given week.
The rebuilding Giants are in the midst of a full tear-down, which can definitely be seen in their run defense. Since the middle of last season, this unit has moved on from stalwarts Damon Harrison, Landon Collins, and B.J. Goodson, among others. They've found a few keepers along the way, especially up front, where B.J. Hill and Dalvin Tomlinson have formed a strong duo. And new strong safety Jabrill Peppers, acquired in the Odell Beckham trade, has brought over his nose for the ball and deadly closing speed in the box. Still, this group remains very much in transition and lacking a few key components. The second level is the big problem, where linebackers Alec Ogletree and Ryan Connelly are liabilities more often than not. Last week, the Bills' trio of Frank Gore, Devin Singletary, and quarterback Josh Allen routinely churned out solid gains once they cleared the line. Of their 32 combined rushes, 18 generated 4 yards or more - with 2 more big-gainers nullified by penalties.