New Orleans Saints (5-7) at New York Giants (7-5)
Earlier this week, I outlined why the Redskins should be considered the favorites to win the NFC East. The Redskins, presumably, have the tiebreaker, by virtue of their better divisional record. They are a game back right now, but they are almost definitely going favored in each of their last four games, while the Giants will be favored in just two of their final 4.
If the Redskins can win just 3 of 4 (games against Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Dallas look very winnable), that will force the Giants to have to win at least 3 of 4 as well and with games against New Orleans, Baltimore, and Atlanta in 3 of their final 4, that’s going to be very tough. I’m hardly counting them out, but the Redskins should be considered the favorites.
That’s pretty crazy considering the Redskins would have basically been eliminated had they lost last week to the Giants. They would have been 3 games up, holding the tiebreaker (by virtue of sweeping the season series), with 4 games to go. That would have made Washington’s magic number for elimination 1, meaning the Redskins would have been eliminated unless they won out and the Giants lost out, highly unlikely. How did the Giants get from that point (favorites in a game which would have basically eliminated the Redskins) to this point or even how did they get from that awesome 6-2 start to this point?
Well, the easy answer is they do this every year. Since Tom Coughlin took over in 2004, they are 53-19 in the first 8 games of the season and 28-40 in the second 8 games of the season. It’s not all Eli Manning’s fault, but there is a noticeable dip in his 2nd half production as compared to his 1st half production. He completes 57% of his passes for an average of 6.7 YPA and 90 touchdowns to 79 interceptions in the 2nd half, as opposed to 60% of his passes for an average of 7.4 YPA and 111 touchdowns to 61 interceptions in the first half.
The Giants are actually favored here, one of two games they are expected to be favored in the rest of the way. However, that doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed to win. In fact, they really struggle as home favorites, especially bigger home favorites like this and in the 2nd half of the season. Eli Manning is 5-15 ATS as home favorites of more than 3 since 2004 in week 9 or later.
The Saints, meanwhile, are in a great spot. Drew Brees is 8-3 ATS in his career with the Saints as dogs off a loss. He failed to cover in this situation last week, but the fact that he lost last week opens up another trend. Teams are 85-48 ATS as road dogs off a road loss since 2008. That should help to combat the fact that Brees isn’t normally the same quarterback outside of his dome. Brees is 2-0 ATS in that spot since joining the Saints.
Besides, after arguably the worst performance of his NFL career, he’s going to want to bounce back. The great ones always do. On top of this, the Saints are dogs before being favorites, as they host Tampa Bay next week. Teams are 102-57 ATS as dogs before being favorites since 2011, including 114-57 ATS since 2008 when opponent will next be dogs, which the Giants will be as they pay a visit to the Falcons.
I considered this to be a pure 5-unit pick of the week, but I decided to make it a 4 unit co-pick of the week for several reasons. One, the Giants might have another one of those eff you games like they had against the Packers. They were favorites against the Packers, but played like dogs because the Packers were public dogs. The Saints are public dogs this week, something I hate betting on anyway, but it doesn’t have the same feel as the Packers game.
Not of lot of people believe in New Orleans right now and people generally feel the Giants will still win the NFC East. If anything, the Saints are going to have the eff you performance this week. Also, the real line for this game is Giants -8.5 using net points per drive differential and it holds up moderately well against DVOA. Still, the Saints should be the right side, both for the reasons I mentioned earlier and because the Giants basically have to lose the NFC East and miss the playoffs if we’re going to have an 18th straight year of 5 new playoff teams. There are essentially 7 returning playoff teams already locked into playoff spots this year.
Public lean: New Orleans (60% range)
Sharps lean: NO 6 NYG 5
Final thoughts: No change.
New Orleans Saints 31 New York Giants 27 Upset Pick +190
Pick against spread: New Orleans +4.5 (-110) 4 units