Washington Redskins at New York Giants: 2017 Week 17 NFL Pick

Washington Redskins (7-8) at New York Giants (2-13)

The Redskins got off to a disappointing 5-8 start, but that was largely the result of a tough schedule, as they had the toughest schedule in the league through 13 games. Their schedule has gotten a lot easier over the past few weeks and they have gotten better results because of that, as they have beaten the Cardinals and Broncos in Washington by scores of 20-15 and 27-11 in the past two weeks, covering the spread in both games.

This week, they are 3-point road favorites in New York against the Giants, who have the 2nd worst record in the league at 2-13. Making matters even worse for the Giants, they enter this game very banged up, as safety Landon Collins, tight end Evan Engram, and wide receiver Sterling Shepard have all gone down in the last week. The Giants struggled mightily on the road in Arizona last week in a 23-0 loss, especially struggling after those players went down with injuries.

The Redskins have a good chance to cover this spread, but I’m not that confident in them because they aren’t healthy either, losing left tackle Trent Williams, center Spencer Long, running backs Rob Kelley and Christian Thompson, wide receiver Terrelle Pryor, tight end Jordan Reed, defensive end Jonathan Allen, middle linebackers Zach Brown and Mason Foster, and safety Montae Nicholson since the start of the season. If this was earlier in the season when the Redskins were competitive with teams like the Seahawks, Saints, Rams, Chiefs, and Vikings, I would take the Redskins in a heartbeat, but I only have this line calculated at Washington -4 because of the Redskins’ injury situation, so this is just a low confidence pick.

Washington Redskins 24 New York Giants 20

Pick against the spread: Washington -3

Confidence: Low

New York Giants at Arizona Cardinals: 2017 Week 16 NFL Pick

New York Giants (2-12) at Arizona Cardinals (6-8)

This is one of the cases where I wish I had taken the early line last week, as the Cardinals were ridiculous 7-point favorites over the Giants last week on the early line. The line has since moved to 3.5. The Giants played decent last week in a close home loss to the Eagles, while the Cardinals lost by 5 in Washington, but those aren’t the kind of results that typically trigger significant line movements like that. Perhaps the odds makers just realized they had made a big mistake with the original line.

Even at 3.5, I still like the Giants a little bit, as I have the Cardinals only favored by a point. They’ve benched quarterback Blaine Gabbert, just a couple weeks after weirdly talking him up as a potential quarterback of the future, and will turn back to veteran Drew Stanton, who is arguably worse. He hasn’t completed more than 50% of his passes or averaged more than 6 yards per attempt since 2014 and has more interceptions than touchdowns in his career. He’s also playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in football, with 4 of their 5 week 1 starters out for the season upfront, and he doesn’t have a running game to support him, with both David Johnson and Adrian Peterson out for the season as well.

Defensively, they are a solid unit, but not as good as they were earlier in the season, before safety Tyvon Branch and outside linebacker Markus Golden got hurt. The Giants arguably have the better defense in this one, in addition to having the better quarterback. That will depend in large part on whether or not safety Landon Collins plays through his ankle injury this week, but I think the Giants are worth a small bet at 3.5 even with his status uncertain. About 1 in 4 games are decided by a field goal or less and the Cardinals have just 3 wins by more than a field goal all season.

Arizona Cardinals 17 New York Giants 16

Pick against the spread: NY Giants +3.5

Confidence: Medium

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants: 2017 Week 15 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (11-2) at New York Giants (2-11)

The Eagles may have won the battle and lost the war in last week’s big road upset victory in Los Angeles over the Rams, as they have lost quarterback Carson Wentz for the season with a torn ACL. It’s a huge blow to this team’s Super Bowl chances, but I don’t think it’s a completely crippling blow. Prior to the season, I had the Eagles getting a first round bye in the NFC and I wasn’t even completely sold on Wentz at the time. This team is a lot more than just Wentz, even as Wentz was in the middle of an MVP caliber season.

Wentz isn’t the only player the Eagles have lost since the start of the year, as guys like left tackle Jason Peters, middle linebacker Jordan Hicks, and running back Darren Sproles are out for the season, but no one is completely healthy at this point in the season. The Eagles still have a strong supporting cast, including a talented defense and one of the best offensive lines in football. Foles is obviously a downgrade from Wentz, but he’s one of the better backup quarterbacks in the league and has some success as a starting quarterback. He struggled with the Rams in 2015, but that could easily be the result of terrible coaching by Jeff Fisher’s staff. Both Case Keenum and Jared Goff lead NFC contenders right now after getting away from Fisher’s coaching, so why couldn’t Foles at least capture some of his pre-Rams form, back when he was a low end starter at worst with Chip Kelly’s Eagles.

Given all that, I was expecting to make a bet on the Eagles this week in New York against the Giants, but, for some reason, this line barely moved from last week to this week, despite the Wentz injury. Favored by 8.5 points on the early line last week, the Eagles are still favored by 7.5 this week, line movement that is almost completely meaningless. The Giants did lose talented safety Landon Collins possibly for the season last week, but that doesn’t nearly cancel out the loss of Wentz. The Giants didn’t even look that bad last week, keeping it tied with the Cowboys until the 4th quarter, when the Cowboys ripped off a few big plays to pull ahead. If they are motivated for this divisional matchup, they could definitely keep it close. With that in mind, I’m taking the Giants at +7.5, albeit for a no confidence pick. This is just too much line value to pass on.

Philadelphia Eagles 24 New York Giants 17

Pick against the spread: NY Giants +7.5

Confidence: None

Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants: 2017 Week 14 NFL Pick

Dallas Cowboys (6-6) at New York Giants (2-10)

Earlier this week, when I saw talented linebacker Sean Lee would be returning for the Cowboys this week, I considering placing a bet on them in this game in New York against the Giants. The Cowboys still obviously miss Ezekiel Elliott, but they got Tyron Smith back two weeks ago and now get Sean Lee back, so they are rounding back into form. Given how well backup running back Alfred Morris has performed in Elliott’s absence, the loss of Smith and Lee were possibly even more harmful to this team than the loss of Elliott, even though Elliott’s absence has gotten the most media attention.

Lee’s absence was particularly harmful, as their defense struggled mightily without him. Unfortunately, the Cowboys will not be at full strength defensively, with talented interior pass rusher David Irving being ruled out with a concussion, so they are no longer as attractive of a bet as they were earlier in the week. Losing Irving doesn’t hurt as much as losing Lee did, but his absence is still big, especially since they lack a clear replacement. When he returned to the lineup following a 4-game suspension to start the season, it had a notice impact on the interior of the Cowboys’ defensive line.

There are still a couple reasons why the Cowboys are a smart pick though. For one, they typically play pretty well on the road, because they have a national fanbase.  They are 33-28 on the road since 2010 (35-26 ATS), with a scoring differential of -0.07 points per game, as opposed to 32-33 at home (23-42 ATS), with a scoring differential of +1.26 points per game. On top of that, the Giants are in a tough spot because they have an even tougher game on deck with the Eagles coming to town. Teams are 25-46 ATS since 2012 before being home underdogs of 7+, which the Giants almost definitely will be next week. If they get down early in this one, they could quit with another tough game on deck. This is just a low confidence pick at 3.5, but if this line drops down to 3 before game time, I’d consider a bet on Dallas.

Dallas Cowboys 23 New York Giants 17

Pick against the spread: Dallas -3.5

Confidence: Low

New York Giants at Oakland Raiders: 2017 Week 13 NFL Pick

New York Giants (2-9) at Oakland Raiders (5-6)

Prior to the Giants benching Eli Manning, I was considering making a bet on the Giants this week. They obviously have major issues on offense, but their defense has been a lot better in the past 2 weeks since they’ve gotten healthy, playing well against both the Chiefs and the Redskins. I thought the Giants’ defense could keep it close against an Oakland team that is missing its top-2 wide receivers, Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper, who are out with suspension and injury respectively, especially since the Raiders don’t have a lot of big wins over the past couple seasons. Just 5 of their 17 wins over the past 2 seasons have come by more than 8 points, relevant considering this line is 9. Their average margin of victory in those 17 wins is 7.41 points per game.

On top of that, the Giants are in a great spot as road underdogs in their 2nd of two road games off of a road loss. Teams are 119-77 ATS in that spot since 2008. That’s because teams typically do better in their second of two road games, as opposed to a single road game sandwiched between two home games, but lines don’t really adjust for that. Teams are 256-269 straight up in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.78 points per game, as opposed to 377-521 straight up in a road game that’s sandwiched between two home games, getting outscored by an average of 2.96 points per game, a difference of about 2 points.

All that being said, I can’t be confident in the Giants with Geno Smith under center instead of Eli. The line did shift 2 points from 7 to 9 with the announcement of Smith as the starter, which, on paper, seems like an appropriate line movement (I have the dropoff from Manning to Smith as worth 3 points). However, this is a veteran team that might quit on the coaching staff now that they’ve benched their quarterback. Benching Eli is clearly not a move the Giants made to try to win now and that might send a bad message to the locker room. On top of that, cornerback Janoris Jenkins was put on injured reserve mid-week with an ankle injury, while stud nose tackle Damon Harrison is highly questionable after missing practice all week with an elbow injury. I’m taking the Giants for pick ‘em purposes, but I can’t be confident in them this week.

Oakland Raiders 20 New York Giants 12

Pick against the spread: NY Giants +9

Confidence: None

New York Giants at Washington Redskins: 2017 Week 12 NFL Pick

New York Giants (2-8) at Washington Redskins (4-6)

Both of these teams come into this game in a terrible spot, as both played games that went to overtime last week and the history of teams playing an overtime game on Sunday and then playing again on Thursday is not good. Teams are 3-21 ATS in that spot all-time as long as they are facing an opponent who is not coming off of an overtime game. Unfortunately, because both of these teams are coming off of overtime games, that trend isn’t useful in evaluating this game.

That’s not the only bad spot these teams are in either. The Redskins lost in overtime in New Orleans last week and home teams tend to struggle off of a road overtime loss anyway (43% cover since 1989), while the Giants won at home as double digit underdogs against the Giants and teams also tend to struggle after a big home upset win anyway (44% cover since 1989 after a win as 4+ point home underdogs). The Redskins are coming off of a huge blown 4th quarter lead, while the Giants are coming off of arguably their Super Bowl, so I don’t expect either teams’ best effort on a short week this week, especially since both teams are coming off of overtime games.

Neither team has an easy upcoming matchup either, as the Giants turn around and go to Oakland, while the Redskins turn around and go to Dallas. Underdogs of 6+ are 56-92 ATS since 2012 before being underdogs of 6+ again, which the Giants likely will be next week (the early line has them -7 in Oakland). Meanwhile, divisional home favorites are 24-62 ATS since 2002 before being divisional road underdogs, which the Redskins likely will be next week (the early line has them -3 in Dallas). I’m taking the Giants because I have this line calculated at 6.5, so we’re getting some line value with them as 7 point underdogs, but it’s not nearly enough for me to be confident at all in them, especially since they’re in a terrible spot.

Washington Redskins 19 New York Giants 13

Pick against the spread: NY Giants +7

Confidence: None

Kansas City Chiefs at New York Giants: 2017 Week 11 NFL Pick

Kansas City Chiefs (6-3) at New York Giants (1-8)

The Giants hit rock bottom last week, falling to 1-8 in a double digit loss to a previously winless 49ers team. The Giants have had injuries, but they don’t seem to be trying hard either. This is a very veteran team with very little good young talent and they don’t seem to want to try hard for head coach Ben McAdoo in a lost season. It’s possible they put in more effort this week for the Kansas City Chiefs, a much tougher opponent, but it’s also possible they mail it in if they go down by multiple scores early, especially since they have to go to Washington on a short week next week. They are currently 8.5 point underdogs on the early line for that Thanksgiving game.

Underdogs of 6+ are 35-54 ATS since 2014 before being underdogs of 6+ again. It’s very tough for inferior teams to keep up with superior teams if they have another tough game on deck. That’s especially true if the superior opponent doesn’t have a tough game on deck, which the Chiefs don’t, with the Bills coming to town next week. The early line has the Chiefs as 7.5 point favorites. Favorites of 6+ are 65-40 ATS since 2014 before being favorites of 6+ again. Combining trends, favorites of 6+ are 35-9 ATS since 2012 before being favorites of 6+ again when their opponent will be 6+ point underdogs again the following week.

The Chiefs are also coming out of a bye and big road favorites tend to cover after a bye. Road favorites of 3.5+ are are 42-17 ATS since 1989 off of a regular season bye when their opponent is not coming off of a bye. The Giants have already lost at home by big margins twice this season against good teams coming out of their bye, as the Seahawks won 24-7 and the Rams won 51-17. The Chiefs could easily do that as well, but we aren’t getting any line value with them at -10. The Chiefs rank dead last in first down rate allowed this season, as they’ve been unable to get off the field defensively without forcing turnovers. They could allow the Giants to hang around in garbage time if the Giants actually put in effort for the full 60 minutes. If this line drops under 10, I may reconsider, but this is a low confidence pick for now. The Chiefs are also the smart survivor pick this week if you have not used them yet.

Update: -9.5 has popped up in a few places Sunday morning, despite wide receiver Sterling Shepard and cornerback Eli Apple being unexpectedly inactive. Grab -9.5 if you can get it.

Kansas City Chiefs 31 New York Giants 17 Survivor Pick

Pick against the spread: Kansas City -9.5

Confidence: Medium