New York Giants (7-4) at Washington Redskins (5-6)
Since Tom Coughlin took over as Head Coach of the New York Giants before the 2004 season, the Giants have always been a much better 1st half of the season team than 2nd half of the season team. In the first 8 games of the season, they are 53-19 and in the 2nd half, they are 28-39. Not so coincidentally, Eli Manning’s play seems to dip in the 2nd half of the season as well, as he completes 57% of his passes for an average of 6.7 YPA and 89 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 definitely had a bounce back week last week, after looking their last two and losing poised to have another 2nd half slump, but that doesn’t mean everything is turned around necessarily. Of those 28 wins, 10 of them have come by 14 or more. They’ve had big wins in the 2nd half of the season in the past and it hasn’t meant their season has been turned around and I don’t think that is the case this season. In fact, after those 10 games, they are just 3-5 SU (2 of them were playoff games so I threw those out, because playoffs are a different story). They’re also just 8-8 SU, 7-9 ATS (-6.1 points ATS per game), as favorites off a win in the 2nd half of the season under Tom Coughlin.
It’s important to note that their win last week has made it so that they are publicly backed this week. Not only do they tend to have let down games when people believe in them (especially after such a big win when the public was doubting them), but the odds makers always win in the long run, so I like to fade the public as much as I can. It’s never a bad thing to be on the same side as the odds makers. It’s also important to note that they lost key safety Kenny Phillips with an injury. He returned for the Green Bay game and had a real impact, both with his play at safety and allowing Antrel Rolle to be used in his traditional role closer to the line of scrimmage, before getting hurt again.
I really don’t think the Giants will make the playoffs. They are 7-4 right now with a tough upcoming schedule. They go to Washington this week, then host the Saints, go to the Falcons and Ravens, before an easy week 17 game against Philadelphia. Every year, there are 5 new playoff teams and that can’t happen this year unless the Giants miss the playoffs. Indianapolis and Chicago look like locks to be 2 of the 5 and the only 4 other candidates really are Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Seattle, and Washington.
Because Minnesota, Tampa Bay, and Seattle can’t win their divisions and are all in the same conference, only 2 of those 3 teams can make it, which means if that’s going to happen for the 18th straight year, the Redskins basically have to make the playoffs, unless someone like Miami or San Diego can steal Pittsburgh’s spot (a long shot). Washington’s schedule down the stretch is pretty easy. If they can win here, they’d be a game back with a home game against Baltimore, road games in Cleveland and Philadelphia, and a home game for the Cowboys. I think both teams finish 9-7 and the Redskins win it on a tiebreaker. They absolutely need to win here to keep hope alive of not just winning the division, but of continuing something that’s happened for 17 straight years and counting.
I originally thought the Cowboys would take the NFC East from the Giants, but the Redskins threw themselves right back into the mix with a win in Dallas last week, something I should have seen coming. I didn’t realize the Redskins could have been where they are now if they beat Dallas. I definitely gave up on this young team too early. There’s a lot to like with them. They rank 18th in net points per game, 14th in DVOA, and 13th in weighted DVOA. Only one of their losses was by more than a touchdown and they easily could be 8-3 or 7-4 right now. Robert Griffin is really on fire right now, especially with Pierre Garcon returning from injury.
The net yards per play method of computing real line says the Giants are getting a little bit of line value here, as it says this line should be New York -4, with the Giants 6th in net points per drive and the Redskins 18th, but DVOA tells a slightly different story. DVOA is net points per drive based, but takes other things like strength of schedule into account, so I like to look at it to compare to net points per drive when computing real line. The Giants are 7th in DVOA and weighted DVOA (which weights more recent games heavier), while the Redskins are 14th and 13th in those respectively, which is a smaller gap.
Taking into account that the Redskins are finally healthier, the Redskins are 5-2 ATS as dogs this season, the Giants are without key safety Kenny Phillips, the Giants tend to struggle in the 2nd half of the season, divisional home dogs tend to cover after a win as divisional road dogs (28-14 ATS since 1989), and that history basically mandates the Redskins win here, I like the Redskins for a significant play.
Public lean: NY Giants (60% range)
Sharps lean: NYG 10 WAS 7
Final update: No change.
Washington Redskins 31 New York Giants 27 Upset Pick +125
Pick against spread: Washington +2.5 (-110) 3 units