Washington Football Team at New York Giants: 2021 Week 18 NFL Pick

Washington Football Team (6-10) at New York Giants (4-12)

Giants fans thought things were bad with Daniel Jones, but he proved to be the one thing keeping this team somewhat competitive, as the Giants have not been competitive in any of the five straight games they have lost since he went down, losses that have come by an average of 18.4 points per game. However, they haven’t had the easiest schedule over that stretch (Dolphins, Chargers, Cowboys, Eagles, Bears) and this week’s game is probably their easiest game, with a home game against Washington on the schedule.

Washington is just 6-10 and they are arguably even worse than their record, going 5-4 in one score games and ranking just 26th in point differential at -114. Despite that, they are favored by seven points here on the road, a margin of victory they have achieved or surpassed just once all season and never on the road. As bad as the Giants are, they are a little healthier than they have been in recent weeks and Washington is not good enough to be favored by a touchdown on the road against anyone. I don’t want to make this a big play, but my calculated line has Washington favored by just 1.5 points, so there is just too much value here with the Giants to ignore, even if their quarterback situation is horrendous.

Washington Football Team 19 New York Giants 17

Pick against the spread: NY Giants +7

Confidence: Medium

New York Giants at Chicago Bears: 2021 Week 17 NFL Pick

New York Giants (4-11) at Chicago Bears (5-10)

The Bears are just 5-10, but their biggest problem has been the turnover margin, as they rank 3rd worst in the NFL at -13. Turnover margin is not predictive week-to-week though and in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, which is based on more predictive metrics, yards per play and first down rate, the Bears rank 25th, 14th, 10th, and 19th on offense, defense, special teams, and in overall mixed efficiency respectively. 

The Bears are also getting healthier, most notably left tackle Jason Peters and interior defender Akiem Hicks, who are among their most important players. The Bears were leading the Packers in Green Bay a few weeks ago when Peters got hurt, while their defense held the Vikings to a 20.00% first down rate and 3.16 yards per play in Hicks’ last game a couple weeks ago, so with both expected back this week, the Bears are suddenly a somewhat decent team.

The same can’t be true for the Giants, who are 4-11 and probably even worse than their record suggests, given all of the absences they have. Their defense is expecting to get top cornerback Adoree Jackson back, but he returns at the same time that talented interior defender Dexter Lawrence is expected out, joining safety Jabrill Peppers and linebacker Blake Martinez, who have been out for weeks, while their offense continues to miss three of their top-4 wide receivers, a pair of starting offensive linemen, and starting quarterback Daniel Jones, whose backup quarterbacks Mike Glennon and Jake Fromm have struggled mightily in his absence. 

The Bears aren’t a team that scores a lot of points and they have just two wins by multiple scores, so this line favoring them by six might seem high, but this is also one of their easiest games and there is a big enough talent gap between these two teams that I think the Bears should be favored by at least a touchdown. There isn’t enough here for the Bears to be bettable, but they should be the pick for pick ‘em purposes as long as this line stays below a touchdown.

Chicago Bears 17 New York Giants 9

Pick against the spread: Chicago -6

Confidence: Low

New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles: 2021 Week 16 NFL Pick

New York Giants (4-10) at Philadelphia Eagles (7-7)

Many wrote the Eagles off when they started 3-6, but they were a lot better than their record suggested, having faced one of the toughest schedules in the league and still managing a positive point differential. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the Eagles have climbed right back into the playoff picture at 7-7 as their schedule has gotten easier in recent weeks. Despite their recent strong stretch, the Eagles still remain a better team than their record suggests, as their seven wins have come by an average of 17.1 points per game, while their losses have come by an average of 9.1 points per game, giving them a point differential of +56, 11th best in the NFL.

The Eagles’ one loss since their 3-6 start was to these Giants, but that game was in New York and the Eagles won both the first down rate and yards per play battle in that game by significant margins, losing the game by 6 only because they lost the turnover battle by 4, in a game in which a banged up Jalen Hurts threw three interceptions. Turnover margins are not consistent week-to-week, but first down rate and yards per play tend to be much more consistent and predictive. 

In terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, which is based on yards per play and first down rate, the Eagles rank 11th, 14th, and 19th on offense, defense, and special teams respectively and 8th in overall mixed efficiency. They’re also arguably even better than that suggests as they are remarkably healthy right now for how late in the season it is, especially when you consider that they had key offensive linemen miss time earlier in the season and had a stretch where their quarterback was injured. 

The Giants, on the other hand, are going in the opposite direction injury wise and are missing key players that played just a few weeks ago in the first matchup between these two teams. The biggest absence is quarterback Daniel Jones, who was first replaced with mediocre veteran backup Mike Glennon and now is being replaced by the unproven Jake Fromm, who will be making his first career start in this game, just a few weeks after joining the Giants and is likely still getting up to speed on the playbook. 

The Giants likely would have lost the first matchup at home by double digits if not for the turnover margin and, now with Fromm under center, in a game in Philadelphia, this is likely to be a double digit win, which would be the Eagles’ 7th of the season and the Giants 7th such loss. My calculated line has the Eagles favored by 13 and, assuming nothing major changes in terms of players being in the COVID protocol, I plan on betting the Eagles as 10-point favorites before gametime. I’m also hoping we can get a -9.5 at some point to avoid a push if the Eagles win by 10. I’m leaving this as low confidence for now, but will likely be updating this before gametime.

Update: This line is rising Sunday morning, so I want to lock in -10 before it’s too late.

Philadelphia Eagles 27 New York Giants 13

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -10

Confidence: Medium

Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants: 2021 Week 15 NFL Pick

Dallas Cowboys (9-4) at New York Giants (4-9)

The Cowboys are 9-4 and rank 5th in the NFL in point differential and they have done so despite some key absences. Starting quarterback Dak Prescott (1 game), each of their top-3 wide receivers Amari Cooper (2 games), CeeDee Lamb (1 game), and Michael Gallup (7 games), each of their top-3 offensive linemen Tyron Smith (3 games), Zack Martin (1 game), and La’El Collins (5 games), and their two best pure edge defenders DeMarcus Lawrence (10 games) and Randy Gregory (5 games) have all missed time and, in fact, last week was the Cowboys’ first game of the season where each of the aforementioned each players were all active.

Unfortunately, that did not last, as Tyron Smith left mid-game, but the Cowboys still held on to win by a touchdown over a competitive Washington team and, though Smith is out this week, it’s not bad timing for the Cowboys, as their opponents this week and dealing with a much worse situation. Already a much worse team than the Cowboys, the Giants will be very short-handed this week. The most notable absence is starting quarterback Daniel Jones, who will be replaced by Mike Glennon, who struggled mightily in relief of an injured Jones against the Cowboys earlier this year, and possibly by Jake Fromm, a signing from the Colts’ practice squad who has been with the team for two and a half weeks and has thrown zero career passes, yet reportedly might get into this game for the Giants.

However, the bigger side of concern for the Giants from an absence standpoint is their defense, which has been the more passable unit this season. Already without top linebacker Blake Martinez, top cornerback Adoree Jackson, and starting safety Jabrill Peppers, the Giants are now without their other starting safety Xavier McKinney, promising fill-in cornerback Aaron Robinson, valuable rotational edge defender Oshane Ximines, and possibly stud defensive lineman Leonard Williams, probably their best defensive player overall. In their current state, the Giants are legitimately one of the worst few teams in the league, while the Cowboys could still be considered one of the better teams, even without Smith.

This line is high at Dallas -10.5, but my calculated line currently has the Cowboys favored by 14.5 even if Leonard Williams plays and I don’t see this line getting any lower, especially since the Giants have had five COVID positives this week to just one for Dallas, meaning they are much more likely to have a bigger outbreak within the next couple days before gametime. This isn’t a big bet, but it’s one of the few I’m comfortable locking in right now, given all of the uncertainty, and it’s possible I end up increasing this play if the Giants lose Williams or others and/or we get favorable line movement.

Dallas Cowboys 30 New York Giants 13

Pick against the spread: Dallas -10.5

Confidence: Medium

New York Giants at Los Angeles Chargers: 2021 Week 14 NFL Pick

New York Giants (4-8) at Los Angeles Chargers (7-5)

A lot has been made of the Giants’ injury situation, as they are missing starting quarterback Daniel Jones, at least one of their top wide receivers Kadarius Toney, as well as a trio of key defensive starters, safety Jabrill Peppers, cornerback Adoree Jackson, and middle linebacker Blake Martinez, but the Chargers are missing some key players as well. Top wide receiver Keenan Allen is out with COVID, while fellow wide receiver Mike Williams and top cornerback Chris Harris could join him as close contacts, although both seem likely to end up playing. They’re also without starting cornerback Asante Samuel, starting edge defender Kyler Fackrell, and their two starting offensive linemen on the right side, tackle Bryan Bulaga and guard Oday Aboushi.

Despite that, the Chargers are favored by 10 points in this game. The Chargers are a better team than they were a year ago, but, dating back to the start of last season, the Chargers have just three multi-score wins, with two of them coming last season against the eventual 1-15 Jaguars and the Chiefs’ backups in a meaningless week 17 game. The Giants might be bad enough to still lose by double digits anyway, but my calculated line has the Chargers favored by just 8.5 points, factoring in that the Chargers frequently draw road heavy crowds and don’t have much homefield advantage in Los Angeles as a result, going just 13-21 ATS at home since moving to Los Angeles.

On top of that, the Chargers are in a bad spot, with a much tougher game next week, in Kansas City, against the Chiefs. Favorites of a touchdown or more cover at just a 43.6% rate before facing a team with a winning percentage over 40% higher than their current opponent’s winning percentage, and, making matters worse for the Chargers, that game in Kansas City is on short rest on Thursday Night Football. Favorites cover at just a 41.7% rate before a Thursday game. It’s very likely the Chargers overlook a bad Giants team starting a backup quarterback, at least enough that this game will be closer than it should be. There isn’t enough here for Glennon and the Giants to be bettable, but they should be the better side for pick ‘em purposes.

Los Angeles Chargers 23 New York Giants 16

Pick against the spread: NY Giants +10

Confidence: Low

New York Giants at Miami Dolphins: 2021 Week 13 NFL Pick

New York Giants (4-7) at Miami Dolphins (5-7)

The Dolphins have won four straight games after a 1-7 start to move up to 5-7 and into the mix for a potential playoff spot in the AFC, but two of their wins came against two of the worst teams in the league, the Texans and Jets, by one score, another came against a Ravens team that was exhausted on a short week after an overtime game, a 16% cover spot all-time, and another came against a Panthers team that has arguably the worst quarterback situation in the league and then lost feature back Christian McCaffrey early in the first half with injury. 

In terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, the Dolphins rank 29th, 20th, and 26th on offense, defense, and special teams respectively and their 28th ranked mixed efficiency shows them to still be one of the worst teams in the league from a statistical standpoint, despite a recent winning streak. The Dolphins went 10-6 a year ago, but they faced a very easy schedule and they benefited from an unsustainably high turnover margin (+11), opponent’s field goal percentage (3rd lowest at 73.91%), and 3rd/4th down conversion rate allowed (33.02%), which was actually lower than the 34.07% conversion rate they allowed on 1st/2nd down (4th highest in the NFL), so they were not nearly as good as their record suggested.

The Dolphins continue to have an easy schedule this week, as not only are the 4-7 Giants coming to town, but they are doing so without injured starting quarterback Daniel Jones, who will be replaced by backup Mike Glennon. Jones isn’t a great quarterback, but he was not the problem with this offense and could at least make plays with his feet, while having some passing success, despite a terrible offensive line and a habitually banged up skill position group. Three of the Giants’ losses this season have come by three points or fewer, with none of their wins coming by that thin of a margin, so the Giants could easily have another couple wins and it’s a credit to Jones that the Giants have been able to be competitive in a lot of their games despite the issues on this offense around the quarterback.

Glennon is a significant downgrade from Jones and will also have to deal with that offensive line and a skill position group that is missing a pair of key wide receivers in Kadarius Toney and Sterling Shepard, though top receiver Kenny Golladay and feature back Saquon Barkley have returned from extended absences in recent week. The Giants’ defense is not healthy either, missing top cornerback Adoree Jackson from a group that already was not the same since losing top linebacker Blake Martinez and top safety Jabrill Peppers for the season earlier this year.

This line has jumped up to Miami -6, after favoring the Dolphins by just 2.5 points on the early line last week, so we’re getting some line value with the Giants even with all their injuries, which isn’t a surprise considering the Dolphins are overrated, but we aren’t getting nearly enough line value to take the Giants with any confidence, as many calculated line has the Dolphins favored by five points. Missing all they are missing due to injury, the Giants are among the worst teams in the league, so even the Dolphins should be favored by a significant amount at home against them, even if maybe not six points. I’m taking the Giants, but this is purely a fade of an overrated Dolphins team that has already struggled to separate from bad teams in the Jets and Texans in recent weeks.

Miami Dolphins 22 New York Giants 17

Pick against the spread: NY Giants +6

Confidence: None

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants: 2021 Week 12 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (5-6) at New York Giants (3-7)

I have thought the Eagles are a very underrated team in recent weeks and, despite back-to-back blowout victories and three blowout victories in their past four games, I think they remain a little underrated. The Eagles are just 5-6, but their +37 point differential is tied for 9th in the NFL, despite the fact that they have faced a relatively tough schedule, with all six of their losses coming against teams with a .500 or better record. 

In terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, the Eagles rank 8th, 15th, 10th on offense, defense, and special teams respectively and 9th in mixed efficiency. They are also arguably better on offense than their rank suggests, given how much better they have played since getting their two talented starting offensive tackles back from multi-game absences earlier in the season. Even at 5-6, the Eagles are in good position to make a run and grab a wild card spot in the NFC, as they are only a half game out of a playoff spot currently and their schedule gets a lot easier from here on out.

Unfortunately, even though they are underrated, we aren’t getting good line value with the Eagles, as their opponents, the New York Giants, are underrated as well. The Giants are just 3-7 and everyone saw them be largely non-competitive against the Buccaneers on Monday Night Football last week, but the Buccaneers are arguably the best team in the league, so there isn’t much shame in that loss, and the Giants could easily have a couple more wins, as three of their losses came by three points or fewer, with none of their wins coming by that small of a margin. 

The combination of the Giants’ big loss in Tampa Bay and the Eagles’ big win over the Saints pushed this line off of favoring the Eagles by a field goal on the early line last week to now favoring them by 3.5 points, so another loss by the Giants by 3 points or fewer would cover this spread. The Eagles have beaten all four teams they have faced that have a losing record by an average of 19.5 points per game and my calculated line still has the Eagles favored by 5 points, but four and five aren’t really key numbers, so that isn’t much line value at all. I am taking the Eagles for pick ‘em purposes, but there isn’t nearly enough value here to take them with any sort of confidence.

Philadelphia Eagles 26 New York Giants 21

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -3.5

Confidence: None

New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2021 Week 11 NFL Pick

New York Giants (3-6) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3)

The Buccaneers are coming off of a loss last week, which has typically been a great spot to bet on a Tom Brady led team, as he is 47-24 ATS off of a loss in his career. However, that drops to 10-13 ATS when Brady is favored by a touchdown or more and the Buccaneers are 11-point favorites in this one. We saw the Buccaneers not cover in a similar spot last week, favored by 9.5 points in Washington, after a loss in their previous game to the Saints, ultimately losing their second straight game in an unfocused performance. 

I thought the Buccaneers would still be able to win big last week because they were coming off of a bye, a great spot for big road favorites, and facing a mediocre Washington team who had significant injury absences and previously had only beaten bad teams by one score, but the Buccaneers proved to be overvalued as big favorites. This week, I think that is even more the case, as the Buccaneers’ loss last week only pushed them down from 12.5-point favorites on the early line last week to 11-point favorites this week, against an underrated Giants team that looks to be a lot healthier coming out of their bye week.

The Giants are just 3-6, but three of their losses came by three points or fewer, while one of their big blowout losses came in Dallas in a game in which the Giants were tied with the Cowboys when quarterback Daniel Jones got hurt. The Giants’ point differential of -37 is better than their record suggests and, when you factor in their tough schedule, the Giants rank 19th, 11th, and 9th in offensive, defensive, and special teams efficiency. Their offense should be better going forward too, as they are getting much healthier on that side of the ball. 

They are still without wide receiver Sterling Shepard, but wide receivers Kadarius Toney (1 game missed), Kenny Golladay (3 games), and Darius Slayton (3 games) all missed significant time and have since returned to be the starters, as has tight end Evan Engram (2 games), while feature back Saquon Barkley (4 games) and top offensive lineman Andrew Thomas (4 games) are also expected back this week. Quarterback Daniel Jones is an underrated player who should perform better with more talent around him, so the Giants could easily be an underrated team the rest of the way if they can stay healthy on offense, with complementary units on defense and special teams.

The Buccaneers, meanwhile, continue to have injury issues. They’ll get top tight end Rob Gronkowski back, but he remains a perpetual injury risk, while talented wide receiver Antonio Brown and top cornerback Carlton Davis remain out and will be joined by top defensive lineman Vita Vea, who will miss his first game of the season this year. The Buccaneers are still one of the more talented teams in the league and I am hesitant to bet against them with Tom Brady coming off of back-to-back losses, back at home where they have been better this season, but this game could still prove to be tougher than expected for the Buccaneers, even if they are ultimately likely to pull out the victory and avoid a third straight loss.

My calculated line has Tampa Bay favored by 9 points, so we’re getting line value with the Giants at +11, and I think there is something to the fact that Tom Brady has failed to cover in all seven night games he has played with the Buccaneers, as Brady is used to going to bed early and may get more tired than most would in a night game, as a result. There isn’t quite enough here with the Giants to bet on them, but it’s possible that changes depending on what I hear about certain injury situations and how close to 100% certain players are. If I decide to place a bet on the Giants, I will give an update.

Update: All of the expected active players are active for the Giants, including Saquon Barkley and Andrew Thomas, and none of expected to be limited in a significant way. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers are confirmed to be without both Vita Vea and Antonio Brown, while tight end Rob Gronkowski is expected to be limited in his first game back. This was all expected, but there was always a chance something went different. Despite that, this line has moved up to 11.5, so I like the Giants for a small wager. They would be 6-3 if not for a trio of losses by a field goal or less and, with a solid defense and special teams, they could have easily won all of those games with a better offense. They should have that this week, arguably as healthy on that side of the ball as they have been since the start of the season. The Buccaneers are not good enough with their current injuries to be favored by double digits against a decent Giants team, with my calculated line now at Tampa Bay -8, before even taking into account that Brady has struggled in night games recently.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27 New York Giants 20

Pick against the spread: NY Giants +11.5

Confidence: Medium

Las Vegas Raiders at New York Giants: 2021 Week 9 NFL Pick

Las Vegas Raiders (5-2) at New York Giants (2-6)

This game is one of the toughest calls of the week. On one hand, the Raiders are in a good spot coming off of a bye week, as road favorites of more than a field goal cover at a 63.5% rate all time after a bye week, but the Raiders also have a much bigger matchup than this on deck, facing divisional rival Kansas City after this matchup with a last place NFC team. The Raiders also aren’t as good as their 5-2 record, as their schedule has been relatively easy and they have just a +14 point differential, 14th best in the NFL, but that doesn’t mean we are getting good line value with the Giants as just 3.5-point home underdogs. 

The Giants are a better team than their 2-6 record, but right now it’s only marginally so, as they have several key offensive skill position players dealing with injuries, with feature back Saquon Barkley and starting wide receiver Sterling Shepard out and fellow starting wide receiver Kenny Golladay questionable to return from a 3-game absence and very possibly to be limited even if he doesn’t play. We are getting slight line value with the Raiders so they are the pick for pick ’em purposes, but I don’t have any real confidence in them covering this spread.

Las Vegas Raiders 24 New York Giants 20

Pick against the spread: Las Vegas -3.5

Confidence: None

New York Giants at Kansas City Chiefs: 2021 Week 8 NFL Pick

New York Giants (2-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (3-4)

The Chiefs shockingly scored just 3 points last week against a Titans defense that was mediocre statistically coming into last week. Despite that uncharacteristically poor performance, the Chiefs still rank 1st on the season in first down rate at 39.5% and 5th in yards per play at 6.2. Their defense has been the problem for most of the season, ranking dead last in first down rate allowed at 38.3% and in yards per play allowed at 6.6, but defensive performance is much less predictive week-to-week than offensive performance and the Chiefs are much healthier on defense now than they have been all season.

Last week was the Chiefs’ first game with interior defender Chris Jones, cornerback Charvarius Ward, edge defender Frank Clark, and safety Tyrann Mathieu active at the same time, resulting in a solid defensive performance that was wasted by their terrible offensive performance. Assuming the Chiefs can bounce back on offense, their defense has enough talent to be a complementary unit going forward. The turnover margin has also been a problem for the Chiefs, as they rank tied for last with the Jaguars with a -10 turnover margin, but many of their turnovers have been on tipped balls or drops and turnover margin is not a predictive stat on a week-to-week basis in general. 

I would expect any team in the Chiefs’ turnover margin situation to bounce back going forward, but the Chiefs are better equipped than most teams to bounce back, as having an elite quarterback like Patrick Mahomes is the best way to consistently perform well in the turnover margin. Prior to this season, the Chiefs were +23 in turnover margin across Mahomes’ first three seasons in the league combined and it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see their turnover situation swing dramatically over the remainder of the season. This line shifted from favoring the Chiefs by 13 on the early line last week to favoring them by 9.5 this week, as a result of the Chiefs’ disappointing performance in Tennessee and the Giants win over the Panthers last week, but that is a little bit of an overreaction. 

Unfortunately, we’re not getting quite enough line value with the Chiefs for them to be worth betting because I do think the Giants are still a little underrated, as two of their losses came by a combined four points, while their loss to the Cowboys was a tied game when they lost Daniel Jones to a concussion. My calculated line is Kansas City -11.5, so we’re getting some line value with the Chiefs, but they’re also in a bit of a questionable spot, with a much tougher game against the Packers on deck after a short week, following this Monday Night Football contest.

Favorites of a touchdown or more cover at just a 42.6% rate all-time before facing an opponent who has a winning percentage over 50% higher than their current opponent, which applies to the Chiefs this week. It’s possible the Chiefs won’t overlook the Giants, given that the Chiefs are coming off of an embarrassing loss, but they also might feel this will be an easy game to “get right” with and not focus as much as they would if this was a tougher opponent. There is enough uncertainty here for the Chiefs to not be worth a bet, even if they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes.

Kansas City Chiefs 31 New York Giants 20

Pick against the spread: Kansas City -9.5

Confidence: Low