New York Giants (8-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5)
What do the Giants have to do to get respect? They enter this game 8-3, but are 6 point underdogs here in Pittsburgh against the 6-5 Steelers. To give you an idea of how rare something like this is, the Giants are just the 8th team since 1989 with a winning percentage of 70% or better to be underdogs of 6 or more against a team with a winning percentage less than 60% in week 13 or later. Of those 7 previous instances, 5 were meaningless week 17 games in which the underdog was resting starters to prepare for the playoffs.
Just one of the Giants’ 8 wins has come by more than a touchdown and normally I don’t like teams that win a lot of close games because they tend not to be as good as their record. However, the Giants are an exception because they’ve managed to go 8-3 (even with many of the wins being close) despite a -5 turnover margin. Turnover margins tend to be very inconsistent on a week-to-week basis, so I love teams that are able to win despite not consistently winning the turnover battle. In fact, the Giants have 4 wins in games in which they lost the turnover battle this season. No other team has more than 2 wins in which they’ve lost the turnover battle. The Giants are 4-2 this season when losing the turnover battle. The rest of the league is 29-106 (.215).
On the season, the Giants enter this game 8th in first down rate differential. Their offense has struggled, especially without top offensive lineman Justin Pugh, but their defense has allowed the 2nd lowest first down rate against this season and is finally forcing turnovers in recent weeks, after not doing so early in the year. The Steelers are actually one spot behind them in 9th in first down rate differential, so we’re getting at least 3 points of line value with the visiting New York Giants. The Giants have been a strong road team in recent years anyway, going 57-37 ATS on the road since 2005, Eli Manning’s first full season as starter. This season, they’re 4-1 ATS on the road and I like their chances of pushing that to 5-1 ATS this week as underdogs of too many points.
Pittsburgh Steelers 24 New York Giants 23
Pick against the spread: NY Giants +6