New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles: 2019 Week 14 NFL Pick

New York Giants (2-10) at Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)

The Eagles’ season hit an embarrassing low last week with their loss to the Dolphins. The Eagles have a top-10 roster on paper, but have been a middle of the pack team in first down rate differential all season and enter this week 17th at -0.04%. The Eagles under-achieved last season too, barely making the playoffs, despite one of the more talented rosters in the league, so this is back-to-back disappointing years for the Eagles.

At some point, it’s fair to question how much of this falls on head coach Doug Pederson. Pederson was anointed the next great coach after he defeated the Patriots to win the Super Bowl in his 2nd year on the job, but so far that’s his only impressive season in 4 years in the job and much of his success that season came as a result of offensive coordinator Frank Reich, who left following the Super Bowl and now is doing a similarly impressive job as the head coach in Indianapolis. Without Reich, the Eagles have not been the same and Pederson no longer looks like the offensive mastermind that hung 40 points on Bill Belichick in the Super Bowl. If not for Frank Reich, Pederson might not even still have his job right now.

With that in mind, I expect the Eagles to continue under-achieving. The Eagles get another easy matchup this week, but they’ve proven they will play down to the level of their competition and the Giants have been better than their 2-10 record suggests, entering this game 24th in first down rate differential at -2.60%. Turnovers have killed them, as they lead the league with 28 giveaways and are tied with the Dolphins for the worst turnover margin in the league at -14, but turnover margin tends to be very inconsistent on a week-to-week basis, so they won’t necessarily lose the turnover battle again this season.

One reason to expect fewer giveaways from the Giants is that they are going back to veteran quarterback Eli Manning, with rookie Daniel Jones dealing with an ankle injury. Manning is only a borderline starting caliber quarterback, but Jones was responsible for 21 of the Giants 28 giveaways by himself and was averaging 2.10 giveaways per start. As underwhelming as Manning has been over the past 4 seasons, he only averages 1.14 giveaways per start over that stretch. If the Giants can play turnover neutral football, they should be able to keep this game relatively close, so my calculated line is Philadelphia -7. We’re not getting quite enough line value with the Giants at +9.5 for them to be worth betting, but they should be the right side.

Philadelphia Eagles 24 New York Giants 17

Pick against the spread: NY Giants +9.5

Confidence: Low

Green Bay Packers at New York Giants: 2019 Week 13 NFL Pick

Green Bay Packers (8-3) at New York Giants (2-9)

The Packers were blown out last week in San Francisco in embarrassing fashion, losing by a final score of 37-8 in a game in which they lost the first down rate battle by a whopping 15.87%. Ordinarily, that loss would put the Packers in a good betting spot this week, as they are 35-21 ATS off of a loss with Aaron Rodgers under center. However, the Packers seem to be overrated this week, even after last week’s loss.

The Packers are 8-3 and have Aaron Rodgers so people are going to want to bet on them, but they have more problems than the general public realizes. Their 8-3 record has been boosted by a 5-1 record in games decided by 8 points or fewer and their 8 wins have come by a combined 67 points, while their 3 losses have come by a combined 51 points, giving them a pretty underwhelming point differential of +16. 

That’s despite the fact that the Packers have benefited significantly from turnover margins (5th in the NFL on the season at +8), which are very unpredictable on a week-to-week basis. In terms of first down rate differential, the Packers are dead even at 0.00% and have been even worse in recent weeks, with a -2.22% point differential since week 7 that ranks 23rd in the NFL over that time period. The Giants are just 2-9, but they’ve actually been slightly better in that metric over that time frame, ranking 21st at -1.79%. Overall, the Giants rank 23rd in first down rate differential at -2.29% on the season, struggling on the scoreboard primarily because of a -11 turnover margin that ranks 3rd worst in the NFL.

That being said, it’s hard to get excited about betting the Giants this week because they’re in a tough spot. Not only will the Packers likely be totally focused for this game after a loss last week, but they don’t have any upcoming distractions on deck, with a home game against the Redskins up next on the schedule, a game in which they are currently 14.5-point favorites on the early line. The Giants, meanwhile, have a big rivalry game against the Eagles in Philadelphia on deck, a game in which they are currently 8-point underdogs on the early line. 

Favorites of 6+ are 148-94 ATS since 2012 before being favorites of 6+ again the following week, while underdogs of 6+ are 84-132 ATS since 2012 before being underdogs of 6+ again the following week. Combining the two, underdogs of 6+ are 11-49 ATS since 2012 before being underdogs of 6+ again the following week when their opponent will be favorites of 6+ again the following week. It’s tough for an inferior team to compete with a superior team with another tough game on deck, especially when the superior team has another relatively easy game on deck. 

The Giants also are missing a pair of key players in their receiving corps, wide receiver Golden Tate and tight end Evan Engram, although they haven’t had a full strength receiving corps all year, so that’s not anything new. Even without those two players, I still have this line calculated at Green Bay -3.5, but I would need the full touchdown with the Giants to wager on them in a tough spot. This is a low confidence pick for now, but I’ll probably have an update tomorrow morning if the line moves.

Final Update: This line has moved to +7 in most places, but Bryan Bulaga is unexpectedly active for the Packers this week after being expected to miss a couple weeks with a knee injury. He may not be 100% and could be at risk of an in game injury setback, but I don’t want to bet on a team in a bad spot with a comparably worse injury situation, so I’m leaving this at a low confidence pick.

Green Bay Packers 24 New York Giants 20

Pick against the spread: NY Giants +7

Confidence: Low

New York Giants at Chicago Bears: 2019 Week 12 NFL Pick

New York Giants (2-8) at Chicago Bears (4-6)

The Giants are just 2-8 coming out of their bye, but they could be better than people expect in the second half of the season. Turnover margin has been a big part of their problem, as they have the second worst turnover margin in the league at -12, but turnover margin is unpredictable on a week-to-week basis. In first down rate differential, they rank 20th at -2.18%, which obviously isn’t great, but it’s better than their record suggests. They’re also relatively healthy compared to the rest of the league and compared earlier this season, when they had six offensive starters all miss time with injury or suspension. Only tight end Evan Engram remains sidelined and he’s their only notable injury on either side of the ball right now, which is pretty good for this late in the season.

The Bears, meanwhile, have had an incredibly disappointing year, starting 4-6 after going 12-4 a season ago, but it’s not all that surprising. The Bears record last year was primarily the result of a defense that was the best in the NFL by a wide margin and a schedule that was the easiest in the NFL. This off-season, they lost a pair of starters on defense (Bryce Callahan and Adrian Amos) and, most importantly, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who got career years out of players like Eddie Jackson and Kyle Fuller who have regressed mightily in 2019. They’re also without defensive end Akiem Hicks and middle linebacker Danny Trevathan due to injury. As a result, the Bears rank “just” 7th in first down rate allowed at 33.64%. Combine that with an offense that has regressed in Matt Nagy’s second season, ranking just 29th in first down rate at 30.74%, and the Bears rank just 23rd in first down rate differential at -2.90%, actually slightly behind the Giants.

I have these two teams ranked about even, so we’re getting significant line value with the visiting Giants, who are 6-point underdogs. This is also a bad spot for the Bears, who have to play on a short week next week (44% cover spot all-time for favorites) and who are also coming off of a tough and potentially season ending loss in Los Angeles last week. They might not bring their best effort for a 2-8 Giants team and the Giants could easily catch them off guard. This is only a medium confidence pick because the Giants are in a tough spot as well, with a tough home game against the Packers on deck (teams are 40-71 ATS since 2016 before being home underdogs of 4.5 or more), but the Giants are still worth betting as 6-point underdogs.

Chicago Bears 20 New York Giants 17

Pick against the spread: NY Giants +6

Confidence: Medium

New York Giants at New York Jets: 2019 Week 10 NFL Pick

New York Giants (2-7) at New York Jets (1-7)

Earlier in the week, I thought I would be making a big play on the Giants this week, as they opened as mere 1-point favorites in what is effectively a neutral site game against their stadium co-tenants the New York Jets. That has changed for two reasons. For one, both the public and the sharps jumped on the Giants at -1, causing the odds makers to push this all the way up to -3 throughout the week. The Giants were +1.5 on the early line last week, so all in all this line has moved pretty significantly and we’ve lost a lot of line value.

At the same time, the Giants’ injury situation has taken a turn for the worse. Last week, it looked like the Giants would be the healthiest they’ve been all season, but Sterling Shepard had a setback and went back in the concussion protocol indefinitely before last week’s game against the Cowboys and the Giants have since lost a pair of starters on the offensive line (right tackle Mike Remmers and center Jon Halapio) and talented tight end Evan Engram as well. 

Fortunately, the Giants get a very easy matchup this week, as the Jets rank 2nd worst in first down rate differential at -9.06% and just lost to the team that is worst (-9.38%), the Miami Dolphins. Part of that is because Sam Darnold missed three games, during which the Jets managed a pathetic 18.01% first down rate, but they’ve had a -6.02% first down rate differential even in the 5 games Darnold has started, which would be 29th in the NFL over the full season. Darnold isn’t the problem on this team, but he has hardly been the solution in his second season in the league. Most of the off-season additions the Jets have made in the past two off-seasons to build around Darnold are either hurt or have not been as effective as the Jets expected. 

Even with the Giants banged up, I still have them about 4 points better than the Jets. The Giants haven’t been good this season, but they’ve been better than their record suggests, ranking 20th in first down rate differential at -1.94%, but getting killed by turnovers, with a -10 turnover margin that is 3rd worst in the NFL. Turnovers tend to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis though and I like the Giants chances of at worst playing turnover neutral football this week against one of the worst teams in the league. We’re not getting enough line value with the Giants to bet them confidently, but they should still be the right side.

New York Giants 24 New York Jets 20

Pick against the spread: NY Giants -3

Confidence: Low

Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants: 2019 Week 9 NFL Pick

Dallas Cowboys (4-3) at New York Giants (2-6)

The Giants are just 2-6, but I like their chances of being a competitive team down the stretch. They’ve been without one or more of Saquon Barkley, Golden Tate, Evan Engram, and Sterling Shepard in every game thus far this season, but this week they are all active. They also have no major injuries on defense (and got better defensively at the trade deadline with the acquisition of Leonard Williams) and are one of the healthiest teams in the league overall right now. 

Despite some early season injuries, the Giants actually rank 18th in first down rate differential at -0.80%, with their 2-6 record largely being a product of their -9 turnover margin, 3rd worst in the NFL. Turnover margins tend to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis, however, and if a healthy Giants team can play turnover neutral football going forward, they won’t be an easy team to beat. 

If the Giants were playing a team other than the Cowboys, I likely would have placed a large bet on them this week, but the Cowboys are also underrated. The narrative on them used to be that they could only beat bad teams, but they blew out the Eagles a couple weeks ago before their bye and the Eagles subsequently blew out the Bills in Buffalo last week. The Cowboys did lose to the Jets three weeks ago, but their other two losses came to the Saints and Packers, who are a combined 14-2, and the Cowboys actually won the first down rate battle in both of those games. 

On the season, the Cowboys rank 4th in point differential at +66, despite an even turnover margin, and they rank 3rd in first down rate differential at +7.07%, only behind the Patriots and 49ers. Despite a less than stellar record, the Cowboys have been one of the better teams in the league this season and, not only are they healthy coming out of their bye, they’re also in a great spot, as teams are 39-11 ATS since 2002 as favorites of 3.5+ after a bye, including 15-3 ATS against a divisional opponent. We’re getting a little bit of line value with the Giants, as I have this line calculated at Dallas -6.5, but that’s hardly anything, so I’m following the trend and taking the Cowboys for pick ‘em purposes.

Dallas Cowboys 31 New York Giants 23

Pick against the spread: Dallas -7

Confidence: None

New York Giants at Detroit Lions: 2019 Week 8 NFL Pick

New York Giants (2-5) at Detroit Lions (2-3-1)

This one is a tough call. On one hand, the Lions are favored by 6.5 points and have yet to beat a team convincingly, with both of their wins coming by a field goal. They have a decent 2-3-1 record, but they have just a -11 point differential even with a +4 turnover margin. No team with a worse point differential has better than a +2 turnover margin and turnover margins tend to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis. In terms of first down rate differential, they rank 3rd at -3.17%. On top of that, they are also missing top cornerback Darius Slay. 

The Giants aren’t exactly a tough opponent though, ranking 26th in my roster rankings, and, even with the Lions being underwhelming thus far this season, I still have this line calculated at Detroit -5. We’re getting some line value with the Giants, but not a significant amount, and the Giants are also in a tough spot, with a bigger game against the Cowboys on deck. Teams tend to struggle before big home games, going 42-74 ATS since 2014 before being home underdogs of 6+ and the Cowboys are currently -7.5 on the early line. Underdogs of 6+ are also just 58-90 ATS since 2014 before being underdogs of 6+ again, as it’s tough for an inferior team to hang with a superior team if they have another tough game on deck. I’m taking the Giants, but for a no confidence pick, as it would hardly be a surprise to see the Lions win by a touchdown.

Detroit Lions 26 New York Giants 20

Pick against the spread: NY Giants +6.5

Confidence: None

Arizona Cardinals at New York Giants: 2019 Week 7 NFL Pick

Arizona Cardinals (2-3-1) at New York Giants (2-4)

This is one of the tougher games of the week to predict. This line favoring the Giants by a field goal at home suggests these two teams are about even and that’s about right. Both the Giants and Cardinals have gotten off to less than stellar starts, with just two wins each against the Buccaneers/Redskins and Bengals/Falcons respectively, but both teams are getting better going forward. The Cardinals are getting top cornerback Patrick Peterson back from a six-game suspension, while the Giants are getting their top two offensive playmakers Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley back from 1-game and 3-game absences respectively. I’m taking the Giants because this is an early game on the East Coast and the Giants are on longer rest, but this is close to a coin flip and a push might be the most likely result.

Final Update: This line has shifted to 3.5 for some reason, so I’m switching this pick to Arizona. This is still a no confidence pick.

New York Giants 26 Arizona Cardinals 23

Pick against the spread: Arizona +3.5

Confidence: None