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

New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers: 2017 Week 10 NFL Pick

New York Giants (1-7) at San Francisco 49ers (0-9)

The Giants lost 51-17 at home to the Rams last week, but they were missing a lot of guys with injury and they quit once they got down early. The Giants still have injury problems and will be without several key players for the rest of the season (center Weston Richburg, wide receivers Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall), but they should get defensive end Olivier Vernon, right tackle Justin Pugh, and cornerback Janoris Jenkins back this week, which should be a big help.

The 49ers also have a lot of injury problems and have the worst roster in the NFL right now as a result, so the Giants probably be favored by at least 3 here in San Francisco. At -2.5, they seem like a smart pick as they have a good chance to bounce back against a significantly inferior opponent. I can’t be confident in them though, given all of the locker room problems they are having right now. This is a veteran team whose season is basically over and the coaching staff may have lost control.

New York Giants 20 San Francisco 49ers 17

Pick against the spread: NY Giants -2.5

Confidence: None

Los Angeles Rams at New York Giants: 2017 Week 9 NFL Pick

Los Angeles Rams (5-2) at New York Giants (1-6)

The Rams are one of the surprise teams in the league this season, as they come out of their bye week at 5-2. They’ll face a different kind of surprise team this week, as the New York Giants, who went 11-5 last season, have started this season 1-6, thanks in large part to injuries. The Giants enter this game missing 8 starters from week 1, including some above average starters like defensive end Olivier Vernon, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, wide receiver Odell Beckham, center Weston Richburg, and guard/tackle Justin Pugh. The Rams, meanwhile, are about as close to 100% healthy as any team in the league, after getting talented safety LaMarcus Joyner back from injury before the bye.

As a result, the Rams are favored by 4.5 points here in New York. Big road favorites tend to cover after a bye, as road favorites of 3.5+ are 50-26 ATS since 1989, but there are two problems. For one, the Giants are also coming out of a bye and that trend drops to 10-10 ATS when the opponent is also coming out of a bye. The second problem is I don’t know if the Rams quite deserve to be favored by this many. Even with all of the Giants’ injuries, I still have this line calculated at -2, as the Rams are still a middling team that has been helped by an easy schedule. With that in mind, I’m actually taking the Giants here, though for a no confidence pick.

Los Angeles Rams 20 New York Giants 16

Pick against the spread: NY Giants +4.5

Confidence: None

Seattle Seahawks at New York Giants: 2017 Week 7 NFL Pick

Seattle Seahawks (3-2) at New York Giants (1-5)

The Seahawks are 3-2 and in a great spot here coming out of their bye week. On the road in The Meadowlands against the Giants, the Seahawks are 4 point road favorites. Road favorites of 3 or more have an incredible track record coming out of the bye, going 41-13 ATS since 2002. However, I can’t be confident in the Seahawks this week because I’m not sure they deserve to be favored by 4 points here, especially considering about 3 in 10 games are decided by 4 points or fewer. Despite their solid record, this has not been the same Seattle team we’ve seen in recent years.

Their 3 wins have come against the 49ers, Colts, and Rams, who are not exactly a tough trio, and they rank just 21st in first down rate differential. While it feels like they could just turn it on mid-season like they normally do, this roster does have some serious problems, given their injury situation. They are without talented rookie running back Chris Carson and valuable edge rusher Cliff Avril for the season, while slot cornerback Jeremy Lane and starting left guard Luke Joeckel are out for an extended period of time. The Giants have plenty of injuries as well, particularly in the receiving corps, but they still have a strong defense and could keep this one close at home. The Seahawks are the pick for pick ‘em purposes, but this is a no confidence pick.

Seattle Seahawks 17 New York Giants 12

Pick against the spread: Seattle -4

Confidence: None