New York Giants at Washington Redskins: 2018 Week 14 NFL Pick

New York Giants (4-8) at Washington Redskins (6-6)

A once promising season for the Redskins seems have to be completely derailed in last week’s loss in Philadelphia. The Redskins are still technically in the NFC East race at 6-6, but they lost their second quarterback in the last month to a broken leg, first Alex Smith and then Colt McCoy last week, and are now starting Mark Sanchez, signed off the streets a few weeks ago. Sanchez is not only a limited quarterback, but he has to have a limited understanding of the offense at this point after just a few weeks, compared to McCoy who has been in the offense for 5 seasons. Sanchez did not look good in relief of McCoy last week, completing 13 of 21 for 100 yards and a pick.

All of that being said, I still don’t understand why this line shifted all the way from Redskins -3 to Giants -3.5, here in Washington. That’s the kind of line movement normally reserved for an injury to an above average starting quarterback, which is certainly not what Colt McCoy is. I also don’t understand what the Giants have done to be favored by this many points on the road against a team that still has a solid defense.

The Giants are just 4-8 with an average margin of victory of 3.75 points per game and no wins by more than 5 points. I’m not too excited about betting on Mark Sanchez, but we’re getting too much line value not to put a small bet on the Redskins this week. They could easily ride their defense and running game to victory at home against a mediocre opponent and I like getting 3.5 points to work with if they come up short.

Update: The Giants surprisingly ruled out Odell Beckham Jr. on Saturday, after he suffered a quad injury in yesterday’s practice. The line shifted from +3.5 to +3, but you could argue it should have shifted even more, as the Giants have been about a touchdown worse per game without Odell Beckham in his career. Colt McCoy getting hurt shifted this line 6.5 points, but Beckham being out only shifts this from 3.5 to 3? I don’t want to make this a higher confidence pick because of Mark Sanchez, but I like the Redskins’ chances of winning straight up now too.

Washington Redskins 16 New York Giants 13 Upset Pick +135

Pick against the spread: Washington +3

Confidence: Medium

Chicago Bears at New York Giants: 2018 Week 13 NFL Pick

Chicago Bears (8-3) at New York Giants (3-8)

I’ve picked the Bears in all but one of their games this season and have bet on them 5 times, going 5-0 ATS. They’ve been underrated for weeks, as their 3 losses have come by a combined 11 points. Winners of 5 straight, the Bears are now at 8-3 and statistically have been as good as any team in the league, ranking 4th in point differential at +106 and 1st in first down rate differential at -7.03%. That being said, I’m not taking them this week because they are in a terrible spot and I’m not just referring to the absence of quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Trubisky hasn’t been bad, but he’s not the reason this team has been winning and backup Chase Daniel is one of the better backups in the league.

The bigger issue is that the Bears have to turn around and host the Rams next week, a game that could easily be as a huge distraction to the Bears. Road favorites are just 39-64 ATS since 2008 before being home underdogs, which the Bears almost certainly will be next week (early line is Rams -3.5). The Giants are just 3-8, but they’ve been competitive in most of their games, losing just 2 games by more than a touchdown, with 3 losses coming by 3 points or fewer. They could easily catch the Bears off guard and make this a game or even potentially win it straight up. We’re not getting any line value with the Giants at +3.5, as the Bears still have a distinct talent advantage, so this is a no confidence pick, but this has trap game written all over it for the Bears.

Chicago Bears 19 New York Giants 17

Pick against the spread: NY Giants +3.5

Confidence: None

New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles: 2018 Week 12 NFL Pick

New York Giants (3-7) at Philadelphia Eagles (4-6)

The Eagles had a week from hell last week. Not only did they get blown out in New Orleans, losing 48-7, but they also suffered numerous mid-game injuries. Center Jason Kelce is not listed on the injury report this week after leaving with an elbow injury early in the game last week, but the Eagles also lost every down linebacker Jordan Hicks and numerous cornerbacks. Already without top cornerback Ronald Darby and starting safety Rodney McLeod, the Eagles are now starting a trio of bottom of the roster talents at cornerback and have just one week 1 starter left in their secondary, safety Malcolm Jenkins.

As a result of last week, this line adjusted in a significant way, as the Eagles went from being favored by 9.5 points on the early line to being favored by 5.5 points this week, the kind of week-to-week swing that’s usually reserved for a quarterback injury. While about 50% of games are decided by 9 points or fewer, just 30% of games are decided by 5 points or fewer, so it’s a very significant swing, crossing key numbers of 6 and 7.

Typically I love going against these kind of significant week-to-week line movements and this game is no exception. Obviously the Eagles looked terrible last week, but they’ve been competitive in all their other losses and Saints are playing at another level right now, especially at home. Teams also typically bounce back from a blowout loss, going 57-35 ATS since 2002 off of a loss by 35 points or more, as teams tend to be overlooked, embarrassed, and undervalued in that spot. Most recently, we saw the Bengals cover in a close loss as 6-point underdogs in Baltimore last week, after the Saints blew them out the previous week.

I can’t say for sure that the Eagles will be overlooked or embarrassed, but they are definitely undervalued, as this line suggests they’re just a few points better than the Giants. Despite being 4-6 and coming off of a blowout loss, the Eagles still rank 10th in first down rate at +2.32%, while the Giants rank 26th at -4.08%. The Eagles could easily be 6-4 or so right now, in which case they’d likely be favored by at least a touchdown in this game, even coming off of a blowout loss with all of the injuries they have.

The injuries in the Eagles’ back 7 are definitely concerning, but they still have a strong defensive line and should dominate this game in the trenches, much like they did in the first matchup, when they blew out the Giants 34-13 in New York as 3-point road favorites. Their offense should also be a lot better this week with Kelce back in the lineup, at home against an underwhelming Giants defense. They should win this game by multiple scores and cover with relative ease.

Philadelphia Eagles 27 New York Giants 17

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -5.5

Confidence: High

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Giants: 2018 Week 11 NFL Pick

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6) at New York Giants (2-7)

The Buccaneers lost last week at home to the Redskins, falling to 3-6 on the season, but they’ve been better than their record suggests, as they rank 19th with a +0.15% first down rate. They’ve been killed by the turnover margin, ranking dead last with a -19 turnover margin, but turnover margins tend to be completely unpredictable on a week-to-week basis. For example, the Buccaneers had a -4 turnover margin in last week’s loss, the biggest reason why they lost despite winning the yardage battle 501-286 and the first down battle 29-15, but, on average, teams with a turnover margin of -4 in a game have a turnover margin of +0.0 the following week. As a result of that, they obviously perform a lot better on the scoreboard (48.8% winning percentage, 52.5% cover percentage).

The Buccaneers are an underrated team and because of that we are getting good line value with them here as 2.5 point road underdogs in New York against the lowly Giants. They’re also in a much better spot, as the Giants have a key divisional game in Philadelphia next week, while the Buccaneers have arguably their easiest game of the season, at home against the 49ers. Favorites are just 53-89 ATS since 2014 before being underdogs when their opponent will next be favorites. While the Giants could easily overlook the Buccaneers with a much bigger game on defense, the Buccaneers should be fully focused with no upcoming distractions on the schedule.

The Buccaneers’ defensive injuries concern me, as they will be without linebacker Lavonte David and safety Justin Evans in this one, after already being without linebacker Kwon Alexander and defensive end Vinny Curry. The Buccaneers’ defense has been pretty bad even with those players healthy though and I trust the Buccaneers’ talented offense to win a shootout here on the road against one of the worst teams in the league. This would be a bigger play if they were healthier, but Tampa Bay is still worth a bet this week.

Sunday update: +3s have showed up Sunday Morning. About 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal, so it’s great to have protection against a New York 3-point win. I’m making this a higher confidence pick as a result.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30 New York Giants 27 Upset Pick +125

Pick against the spread: Tampa Bay +3

Confidence: High

New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers: 2018 Week 10 NFL Pick

New York Giants (1-7) at San Francisco 49ers (2-7)

This is a tough game to predict because I’m still not sure what to make of new 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens, a 2017 undrafted free agent who completed 16 of 22 for 262 yards and 3 touchdowns in his first NFL start last week. If he continues to play at least decent, the 49ers should cover this game as 3-point home favorites over the lowly Giants. The 49ers actually have a solid offensive supporting cast around the quarterback and rank 13th in first down rate at 37.70%, despite quarterback turmoil.

Turnovers have been a huge problem for them, as they’ve turned it over 18 times and have a -13 turnover margin (2nd worst in the NFL), but turnover margin tends to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis. Mullens didn’t turn the ball over at all last week (after CJ Beathard committed 10 turnovers in 5 starts) and if he keeps playing at least decently their turnover margin could easily stabilize for the rest of the season.

Those are big ifs with Mullens though. The track record of undrafted quarterbacks in the NFL is pretty weak and, as good as he looked in his debut, it was one start against a team that had no tape on him and wasn’t expecting him to play. He also happened to be playing a Raiders defense that can make a lot of quarterbacks look good. I’m taking the 49ers in this one for pick ‘em purposes, but there’s far too much uncertainty for them to be bettable this week.

San Francisco 49ers 24 New York Giants 20

Pick against the spread: San Francisco -3

Confidence: None

Washington Redskins at New York Giants: 2018 Week 8 NFL Pick

Washington Redskins (4-2) at New York Giants (1-6)

At first glance, this seems like an easy one, as the division leading Redskins just have to beat the last place Giants by more than 1 point to cover. However, the Redskins are a little overrated. Their 4-2 record looks impressive, but they have just a +5 point differential, despite a +6 turnover margin, and rank just 22nd in first down rate differential at +2.21%. Turnover margins tend to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis, so they won’t be able to rely on that every week going forward and if they play turnover neutral football the rest of the way it will be noticeable on the scoreboard.

Their defense has been solid, but their offense has been underwhelming, as veteran Alex Smith has regressed back to being a checkdown machine, now that he no longer has the supporting talent or coaching he had in Kansas City. They’ve especially struggled offensively over the past 3 weeks, moving the chains at a mere 30.27% rate over that time period, coinciding with Chris Thompson, Jamison Crowder, Paul Richardson, and Josh Doctson all suffering injuries. Crowder remains out, while both Richardson and Thompson are considered 50/50 calls for this one, thinning an already underwhelming receiving corps. They’ll also likely be without starting cornerback Quinton Dunbar.

Earlier in the week, I was thinking of taking the Giants, whose defense has been better since getting Olivier Vernon back from injury and who have just two losses by more than a touchdown, coming against the Saints and Eagles, two of the more talented teams in the league. However, the Giants officially gave up on the season this week, trading productive defensive starters Eli Apple and Damon Harrison for draft picks, and the line didn’t really move to compensate. Given that, I’m taking the Redskins in a game they just need to win to cover, but this isn’t the layup it looks like at first glance because the Redskins’ record doesn’t tell the whole story.

Washington Redskins 19 New York Giants 17

Pick against the spread: Washington -1

Confidence: None

New York Giants at Atlanta Falcons: 2018 Week 7 NFL Pick

New York Giants (1-5) at Atlanta Falcons (2-4)

When this line opened at Atlanta -6 earlier this week, I was considering a bet on the Giants. The Giants were blown out on national television last week on Thursday Night Football against the Eagles, which is probably why the line opened so high, but playing a good team like the Eagles on a short week is very tough, so I didn’t hold that against them too much. On top of that, the rest of the Giants’ losses have been close and the Falcons shouldn’t be favored by 6 points against anyone other than the Bills, given that their injury plagued defense can’t stop anyone.

Unfortunately, the line has since shifted all the way down to 4, so we’ve lost a lot of line value. The Falcons also are expected to get talented defensive tackle Grady Jarrett back from a two game absence, which gives their defense a boost. I’m still taking the Giants because I expect this to be a close game and I expect a much better effort from the Giants with extra time to rest and prepare, but this is a no confidence pick.

Atlanta Falcons 30 New York Giants 27

Pick against the spread: NY Giants +4

Confidence: None