New England Patriots (8-0) at New York Giants (5-4)
The Giants have a winning record, but this line might not be high enough at 7.5. The Giants are not nearly as good as their record, ranking 25th in rate of moving the chains differential on the season, largely as a result of a defense that ranks 30th in rate of moving the chains allowed. Injuries have ravaged a group that wasn’t very talented to begin with. Middle linebacker Jon Beason is out for the season. Cornerback Prince Amukamara remains out. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul returned last week, but it’s still unclear how effective he can be after blowing off part of his hand in the off-season. On top of that, the Giants lost talented defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins for the season last week.
The Giants have had success in the win/loss column this season, largely because of a +12 turnover margin, but that kind of thing is very tough to count on every week. The correlation between a team’s turnover margin in one game and its turnover margin in the next game is virtually non-existent. Even if that wasn’t true, their odds of being able to force multiple turnovers against a New England team that has 5 all season aren’t very good. The Giants are going to have a very hard time getting the Patriots off the field. They rank 1st in the league in rate of moving the chains and 2nd in rate of moving the chains differential.
It does help the Giants that the Patriots’ offense is really banged up. Running back Dion Lewis is out for the season and their top 3 offensive tackles, Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, and Marcus Cannon are also out for this one, leaving the Patriots with a very weak offensive line and without their top checkdown option. However, the Giants’ defense is so weak that it might not matter much. Defensively, the Patriots are expected to get top pass rusher Jabaal Sheard back from a 3 game absence, but talented linebacker Jamie Collins is expected to miss his 2nd straight game with an illness. This line, at the very least, is appropriate, given the talent disparity between these two teams and the ease with which the Patriots should put up points.
The Patriots are also in a good spot, with a home game against the Bills on deck. Teams are 79-39 ATS since 2012 as 6+ point favorites before being 6+ point favorites again, as good teams tend to take care of business and win big over inferior opponents when they don’t have any upcoming distractions. The Patriots are also 52-28 ATS in the Bill Belichick era against a team that beat them in their previous matchup, as the Giants did in the Super Bowl at the end of the 2011 season. It’s not enough for me to put money on the Patriots, especially with the public all over them and the Patriots’ injury situation looming larger than it has all season, but they should be able to put up a bunch of points and cover this spread.
New England Patriots 34 New York Giants 24
Pick against the spread: New England -7.5