Tonight the NFL fans gets their first taste of legitimate football since Superbowl XLVIII. The Bills’ top draft pick Sammy Watkins will make his league debut against the Giants.
After six months of post-Superbowl hangovers, crazy free agency moves and one of the longest pre-draft analyses in recent memory, football officially gets underway with the annual Hall of Fame game. This year the New York Giants (fresh off inducting the iconic Michael Strahan) will take on the Buffalo Bills (who inducted Andre Reed).
The Giants and Bills have struggled with injuries this offseason, but this game will give both teams the first real opportunity to show off their depth.
What We Will See
1. The debut of Sammy Watkins – the Bills made a blockbuster trade to move up and draft the Clemson WR. Watkins has been impressing in camp and a video of him making a one-handed catch after falling down during a route went viral almost immediately. It will be interesting to see how Watkins plays in full contact
2. The new extra point – For the duration of the preseason the point after touchdown (PAT) line after TDs will be moves from the 2-yard line to the 15-yard line, increasing the distance from 20 to 33 yards for kickers. This is part of an experiment in the NFL to make the extra point attempt more difficult and add more strategic coaching to the game.
3. The new Giants secondary – The Giants invested heavily in DBs this past offseason, signing CBs Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmond as well as Safety Quintin Demps. The team hopes that they can get very quickly in order to compete with the multitude of Pro Bowl receivers that make up the NFC East.
4. How the Bills replace Kiko Alonso – The star MLB who lit up the NFL as a rookie suffered a torn ACL and will be out for the year, leaving a massive hole to fill in the LB corps. The Bills need to use this game to start figuring out who they have that can fill Alonso’s shoes.
What We Will Not See
1. Odell Beckham Jr. – The Giants’ top draft pick has been dealing with a sore hamstring and missed most of the practices this week, drawing the ire of HC Tom Coughlin. Beckham Jr. is out for this game and will likely remain held out of all preseason games until he participates in at least one full practice.
2. David Wilson – The Giants RB who injured his neck and missed more than half of the 2013 season endured a major setback when he suffered a stinger in his neck during a practice last week. Wilson will definitely not play in the Hall of Fame game and has yet to return to any practice.
3. A complete look at EJ Manuel – The 2nd year QB impressed in a few games in 2013 and is the undisputed starter going into the 2014 season. The Bills may be confident, but there is still doubt as to whether Manuel has taken that next step up into becoming the kind of player they wanted when they drafted him in the 1st round last year.
N/A – Preseason games are not decided by starters and are therefore too hard to quantify