New York Giants (1-7) at Washington Football Team (2-5)
With Washington still somehow unable to figure out how to get a real name, it seems that the Washington Football Team moniker is here to stay, with reports recently that they are keeping the name through 2021, so I will have to call them by their non-name officially going forward, but it’s still a stupid name and they should pick any other name as soon as possible. With that out of the way, when analyzing this game, something stood out in my numbers as very surprising, which was that the Giants rank 14th in the NFL in first down rate over expected at +0.62%.
Whenever something is unusual like that, I look to see what is going on and in this case, what is happening is simple. The Giants rank just 27th in first down rate at 31.92%, but they have also faced a brutal schedule of defenses, including the Buccaneers (1st in first down rate allowed over expected), the Steelers (3rd), the Rams (5th), the Bears (9th), the 49ers (10th) and the nonames (2nd), who they previously played back in week 6.
Is it possible the Giants are a secretly capable offense that has been made to look bad by its strength of schedule? It might not be the case that they’re the 14th best offense in the league, but it’s definitely possible they’re closer to middling than we expect, especially with wide receiver Sterling Shepard back from injury and quarterback Daniel Jones playing better in recent weeks.
The Giants strength of schedule doesn’t get much easier this week in this rematch in Washington, but defensive performance is much more inconsistent on a week-to-week basis than offensive performance and the injuries are also starting to pile up for Washington, with defensive end Matt Ioannidis and safety Landon Collins now both done for the year, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them regress defensively going forward, in which case they would be in a lot of trouble, because their offense ranks just 31st in first down rate over expected.
The Giants might not be the 14th best offense in the league, but they have a significant advantage on the side of the ball that matters more for projection purposes. Unfortunately, it seems like the public and the sharp bettors have kind of picked up on this, shifting the Giants from 3.5 point underdogs on the early line last week to 2.5 this week, in the wake of the Giants’ near victory over the Buccaneers last week. If we can get a good +3, I might consider a bet on the Giants, but this is a low confidence pick at 2.5.
Update: +3s have popped up Sunday morning. The Giants will be without wide receiver Golden Tate for disciplinary reasons, but he hasn’t done much this season and is far less important to this team with Shepard back. +3 is worth a bet.
New York Giants 17 Washington Football Team 16 Upset Pick +135
Pick against the spread: NY Giants +3