I’m used to must-win games right now after spending the last few weeks watching the Yankees endure them. But on Wednesday night at the Stadium (my last Yankees game of the year), I watched the Yankees go down in their last meaningful game of the season. It took the Yankees 158 games and 97.5 percent of the season for the season to finally end, which was way longer than anyone though it would last with the names they used to replace their stars. As for the New York Football Giants, it might only take four games and 25 percent of the season for their season to end.
Three weeks ago I would have chalked up a visit to Kansas City to face Andy Reid, Alex Smith and the Chiefs as a predicted win for the Giants, but three weeks ago I also didn’t see the “Disaster in Dallas” coming or the blowout from the Broncos or whatever the eff that was in Carolina last Sunday. Those who try to predict wins and losses with NFL schedules are always reminded that it doesn’t matter who you play, it only matters when you play them and right now the Giants in their current state couldn’t be facing a worse matchup than on the road in Kansas City against the Chiefs in their current state.
The Chiefs are 3-0 under Reid, who knows the Giants and how to beat them better than any other coach in the NFL. They are coming off 10 days rest following their Week 3 win on Sept. 19 over Reid’s former team in his former city. Everything about this game says the Giants will lose to the Chiefs the way the Jaguars, Cowboys and Eagles already have. But in this NFL with these Giants, nothing goes according to plan and this game likely won’t either.
The Giants are at their best when they have been left for dead and the entire football world has moved on from considering them a playoff team or contender. Right now the football world has a reason to do that at 0-3 even if they trail the always-ready-to-collapse Cowboys by only two games in the division with the Eagles at 1-2 and Redskins at 0-3.
I don’t expect the Giants to go on the 13-0-type run that Antrel Rolle alluded to the possibility of on WFAN this week, but I also don’t expect them to roll over and become the 2012 Eagles. Once again I had to learn the lesson of having expectations with the Giants the hard way and that’s why in Week 4 against the Chiefs I don’t have any expectations. The Giants have two options: 1.) Win and save the season or 2.) Lose and spend the next 12 games and 13 weeks playing meaningless football.
As for the picks, well it looks like we are coming to a crossroads with those as well and we’re not in “must-win mode” for the picks yet (whatever must-win mode translate to in terms of making picks), but we’re almost there. I said in Week 2 that it would be a grind to chip away at the damage done in Week 1 and since “The Disaster” I have answered with back-to-back 7-8-1 weeks, which isn’t going to cut it. While the Giants try to save their season on Sunday, I will be trying to save mine as well.
Week 4 … let’s go!
(Home team in caps)
San Francisco -3.5 over ST. LOUIS
If this game had taken place in Week 1 or Week 2 it would have been interesting to see what the line would have been. But it’s Week 4 now and the 49ers are tied with the Rams at 1-2 and two games back of the Seahawks in the NFC West. I thought after the 49ers’ Super Bowl run last season and the Rams’ gradual improvement over the last year that we were getting away from the NFC West matchups being must-not-watch TV and picks disasters. But maybe we’re heading back to that time period, which I wouldn’t mind since I miss the NFC West being the worst division in football and the NFC East being the best.
MINNESOTA +3 over Pittsburgh
When I first saw this line, my jaw dropped. The Vikings are getting three points at home against the Steelers?!?! Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!?! This is too good to be true! And it was. Because I forgot about the NFL’s annual London game, which happens to be this one. So no, the Vikings aren’t home and neither are the Steelers. If anything though I’m guessing it will feel more like a home-field advantage for the Steelers if their fans, who travel well in the U.S., travel as well outside the U.S.
Baltimore -3 over BUFFALO
This game is a lot harder to pick than it appears. It appears as the defending Super Bowl champions -3 against the Bills in Buffalo, but it’s much more complicated than that after what we’ve seen from both teams over the first three weeks. I’m just going to hope that the Ravens defense has gotten its act together and will present never-before-seen problems for E.J. Manuel.
Cincinnati -3.5 over CLEVELAND
The Browns finally win a game with Brian Hoyer as their quarterback and suddenly their only 3.5-point underdogs against the Bengals? OK. Yes, I know the Bengals were in most of their games last year and in their two losses this year, but backing the Brian Hoyer era in its second week is a risky proposition.
Indianapolis -9.5 over JACKSONVILLE
This line could be -14 and I would still be on the Colts because we’re at the point right now where it’s going to be nearly impossible to pick the Jaguars. Last week, depending on where you got the line, the Seahawks were basically a 20-point favorite over the Jaguars and they covered that line with ease and I was willing to back the Seahawks as high as -35. I think the only way I wouldn’t pick against the Jaguars right now would be if they were playing the Giants. And unfortunately they’re not this season because the Giants could use a win.
Seattle -3 over HOUSTON
The Broncos are +300 to win the Super Bowl right now. The Seahawks are +450. I have no choice, but to ride this wave for as long as I can.
TAMPA BAY -2.5 over Arizona
Will the Buccaneers turn around their 0-3 season with a new quarterback in rookie Mike Glennon? Sure! Why not? In other words: Somewhere someone who isn’t a Buccaneers fan or a Cardinals fan is going to bet on this game and watch it in its entirety. Think about that.
Chicago +2.5 over DETROIT
Pretty even division rivals, who have both been handed early-season wins? I will go with the undefeated one and thank you for the 2.5 points, Vegas.
New York Giants +5 over KANSAS CITY
Save the season or end it. If it’s the latter, I will probably have to pick against the Giants for the rest of the season.
TENNESSEE -4 over New York Jets
Earlier in the season I was thinking I could use the “Somewhere someone who isn’t a Titans fan or a Jets fan is going to bet on this game…” line for this game, but now we have a 3-0 Titans team hosting a 2-1 Jets team and it’s like it’s 2008 again. I would actually enjoy a Kerry Collins-Brett Favre matchup over a Jake Locker-Geno Smith matchup … even in 2013.
SAN DIEGO +2 over Dallas
The Giants aren’t in as bad of a place as they should be at 0-3 because the Eagles and Redskins have both stumbled out of the gate and only the Cowboys have a winning record in the NFC East. What does that mean for the season? It means that the Giants are probably going to need a Cowboys collapse at some point to get into the playoff picture. What better time than now in San Diego to start the annual implosion?
OAKLAND +3.5 over Washington
When I go to pick Redskins games I envision RGIII running around the field, picking up first downs left and right and controlling the game. But really I need to envision the Redskins defense challenging the Giants defense for the belt as the worst defense in the league. I mean 98 points allowed in three weeks? If only the Giants hadn’t given up 115 in the first three weeks more people would be talking about the Redskins defense and less about what’s wrong, if anything, with RGIII. So far the Raiders nearly pulled of an upset in Indianapolis, beat the Jaguars and were dominated in Denver. The Raiders should have been 1-2 through their first three games and they are. The Redskins shouldn’t be 0-3 after their first three, but they are. Right now the Raiders are playing like the team everyone expected them to be and even a little better than expected while no one knows who the Redskins are or what they are going to be.
DENVER -11.5 over Philadelphia
Remember when Chip Kelly saved the Eagles and brought his Oregon spread offense to the NFL and it worked flawlessly against the Redskins? And remember when Chip Kelly managed the clock against the Chargers the way Grady Little managed a bullpen and cost his team a game and then when his team turned the ball over five times in Andy Reid’s Philadelphia homecoming? I do and I’m glad the last two weeks happened to the Eagles and their fans and the construction on the Chip Kelly statue in front of Lincoln Financial Field was halted while the team gave their fans a reminder and reality check as to who they are.
As for the Broncos, at some point the Broncos aren’t going to cover. If it’s this week, so be it. But I’m not going to be on the other side of another Broncos blowout.
ATLANTA -2.5 over New England
I will never forgive the Falcons for blowing a 17-0 lead and losing to the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game and costing me the two-team parlay at 10-to-1 odds I had along with the Ravens over the Patriots. But I need to put that devastating loss aside for Sunday Night Football this week and remember how good the Falcons are at home (nearly Saints-esque), the fact they are 1-2 and that the Patriots aren’t exactly the most convincing 3-0 team. A two-point win in Buffalo over a rookie quarterback making his NFL debut, a three-point win at home against the Jets and a rookie quarterback making his second career start and a Week 3 win at home over the Buccaneers in the middle of a quarterback crisis are the reasons for not being overly convinced that the 2013 Patriots are going to be anything more than a team handed a playoff spot because they play in a weak division (Hey, Los Angeles Dodgers!).
NEW ORLEANS -6.5 over Miami
I’m on the Dolphins bandwagon and I’m sitting in the front seat and making small talk with the driver of it. The Dolphins are responsible for three of my 17 correct picks through three weeks so I feel terrible turning my back on them for a week and going with the Saints, but until the Saints stop winning games by a touchdown at home, I don’t have a choice. With Sean Payton as head coach, the last time the Saints didn’t win a home game by at least seven points (including the playoffs) was also the last home game they lost with Sean Payton as head coach, which was a 23-13 loss to the Buccaneers on Jan. 2, 2011. So I’m sure the Dolphins will understand my decision.
Last week: 7-8-1