The Giants have done exactly what I thought they would do. They have turned a lost 0-2 season into a reel-Giants-fans-back-in 2-2 season. But after playing two easy opponents (though no opponent for the Giants is easy), they now have the Vikings on Sunday followed by the Patriots on Thursday. Winning one of the two next games would be a major accomplishment and would continue to keep this season alive. Losing both would send the season right back to where it was before the Daniel Jones era began.
I haven’t bought into this Giants team as one that has turned their season around and is going to truly battle for a postseason berth. It’s hard to when their defense got worked over for the first three weeks of the seasons, and one of their two wins was a direct result of a kicker missing two extra points and a game-winning, 34-yard field-goal attempt. The only game the Giants looked convincingly better than their opponent was against the Redskins last week, and the Redskins are winless and were forced to play their rookie quarterback who had yet to play because the head coached deemed him not ready.
After the Vikings and Patriots, the Giants also have to play the Cowboys, Eagles twice, Bears and Packers. Since no opponent is “easy” when it comes to the Giants, let’s assume the following opponents aren’t “easy” but rather “easier” than the others: Cardinals, Lions, Jets, Dolphins and Redskins. (I included the 2-1-1 Lions who are extremely close to being 4-0 with the “easier” group because they don’t belong with the first list of teams.) That gives the Giants seven challenging games and five “easier” games to play.
It’s quite possible the Giants could fight for a seven- or eight-win season, which would be a successful season considering how the last two seasons went, most of the games will have been started by a rookie quarterback, the absence of Saquon Barkley for multiple weeks, the state of the defense and that Pat Shurmur is their head coach. I would sign up for 7-9 or 8-8 right now because that would mean the team is actually making progress rather than deteriorating and continuing to go in the wrong direction. It would also mean I cover my over six wins prediction for the Giants.
The next two weeks will tell us a lot about what to expect from the Giants for the next three months. Two losses and they haven’t changed. One win and there’s reason to be intrigued. Two wins and … if the Giants beat both the Vikings and Patriots to improve to 4-2 on the season and 4-0 with Daniel Jones, I book a hotel room in Miami for the Super Bowl. But let’s start with them winning one of the two games and go from there.
Well, it’s going to be tough to climb out of this hole. After a nice, solid 9-7 Week 3, Week 4 was an absolute disaster at 5-10. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one losing teasers involving the Colts, Rams, Texans or Vikings, and I’m sure a lot of survivor pool dreams were crushed by the Rams’ lack of defense against a Buccaneers which lost to the Giants. Underdogs went 10-5 against the spread with eight of them winning outright.
Week 4 was certainly forgettable, but thankfully, there’s another week ahead to get back to winning, and 13 more weeks to erase this under-.500 record.
(Home team in caps)
Los Angeles +1 over SEATTLE
I never like taking the road team on Thursday Night Football and I don’t usually like taking any team at Seattle, but there are exceptions to everything. The exception here is that the Rams suffered an embarrassing loss at home to a Buccaneers team which had to fly across country reeling from a loss to the Giants. The Rams will be looking for redemption on the short week.
CINCINNATI -3 over Arizona
After the hard-to-watch Monday Night matchup, which was so hard to watch, I watched it for less than five minutes, we get another winless matchup early on Sunday.
TENNESSEE -3 over Buffalo
I was high on the Titans coming into the season and their Week 1 blowout win over the Browns validated my being high on them. Then they went out and back-to-back games and I figured they were the same old .500-ish Titans. But they were able to beat the Falcons (not exactly a great accomplishment) last week and now I’m ready to ride them again.
Chicago -6 over OAKLAND
The Colts should be embarrassed for the way they played on Sunday, allowing the Raiders to go down the field on their defense with ease. I can’t envision them having them offensive success this week going against the best defense in the league, even if they are at home. Derek Carr better have his head on a swivel in Khalil Mack’s return to Oakland, where he will want to put on a show for his former fans and for the team who thought it was a good idea to not pay him.
NEW ORLEANS -3.5 over Tampa Bay
That’s two starts for Teddy Bridgewater and two wins for the Saints. It’s almost as if the Vikings should have kept Bridgewater, so they wouldn’t now be wasting their championship window on the Kirk Cousins era in which they are 10-10 with nearly $100 million in guaranteed money tied up with a mediocre-at-best quarterback.
NEW YORK GIANTS +5.5 over Minnesota
My wife is a Vikings fan. Yes, a Vikings from Los Angeles. Long story. Do I really believe the Giants’ winning streak will reach three games and they will be able to score against the Vikings’ defense like they did against Tampa Bay and Washington or that they will be able to play defense against Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs? No. But I can’t pick against them with so much on the line at home.
PHILADELPHIA -13.5 over New York Jets
Will the Jets’ offense score a touchdown coming out of their bye week? I don’t think so since the Eagles are also essentially coming out of a bye with a 10-day layoff. This has to be the most pick survivor pool game of the week with the Dolphins on their bye.
Baltimore -3.5 over PITTSBURGH
I couldn’t have been more wrong about the Ravens last week and thinking they were in the level just below the Patriots and Chiefs in the AFC. Teams in that level don’t get run out of their own building. But in actuality, that level doesn’t even exist this season. It’s the Patriots and Chiefs and then everyone else is much, much far behind the two. The AFC is essentially the NBA in that we already know how the playoffs will unfold.
New England -15.5 over WASHINGTON
The Patriots have failed to cover back-to-back weeks after a defensive touchdown gave the Jets a backdoor cover over them in Week 3 and a missed extra point allowed the Bills to cover in Week 4. After watching the Redskins blow a sizable lead to the Eagles in Week 1 and then get routed by a Giants team which shouldn’t rout any team, I think it’s safe to say the Patriots will get back to covering this week.
CAROLINA -3.5 over Jacksonville
Last week, I wrote:
I have never listened to North Carolina sports radio, but if Kyle Allen plays well again, I think I’m going to have to check it out. I want nothing more than for there to be a quarterback controversy with the Panthers.
I think it’s time to tune into North Carolina sports radio because if there isn’t already talk of a quarterback controversy with the Panthers, there should be. The Panthers are 2-0 with Allen and 0-2 with Cam Newton. I don’t know how Newton expects to be the starter when he eventually returns, and I don’t know how he possibly could be the starter with the way Allen has played. If Allen continues to play well and the Panthers continue to win, there won’t be a debate. Newton will be on the bench.
HOUSTON -5 over Atlanta
If it always feels like the Texans should be better than they are, it’s because they should be. They have the quarterback and offensive and defensive personnel to be a playoff team each year, but somehow they continue to struggle to score points and win games. Scoring 10 points at home is something that should only happen with teams like the Redskins and Dolphins, certainly not with the Texans. That trend can’t continue at home against the Falcons.
Since the Falcons blew a 25-point, second-half lead in the Super Bowl, they have lost in the first round of the playoffs, gone 7-9 and are now 1-3. If that’s not enough to get a head coach fired who should have been fired the second that awful Super Bowl ended, I don’t know what will be enough.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS -6.5 over Denver
The Dolphins turned in their best performance of the season in Week 4, a 20-point loss to the Chargers. After seeing how bad the Dolphins were in the first three weeks of the season, it was a letdown performance from the Chargers. It’s somewhat understandable since the Chargers never play well outside of the Pacific Time Zone, or California really, but only beating the Dolphins by 20 is a bit of a red flag. Luckily for the Chargers, they return to California and the Pacific Time Zone this week to face a second straight winless opponent in the Broncos.
Green Bay +3.5 over DALLAS
Here’s what I wrote last week about the Cowboys:
The Cowboys have yet to be tested after getting the awful defenses of the Giants and Redskins in Weeks 1 and 2 and then the Dolphins, who might be the worst team in the history of the NFL, in Week 3. The Cowboys are good, but they’re not undefeated, class-of-the-NFC good. Right now, they’re riding high, and probably thinking they’re the cream of the crop in the NFC, as their fans are, but this week in New Orleans should be a nice wake-up call for them after having the easiest opening schedule through Week 3 in the league.
The Cowboys might be able to pick up easy wins against the Giants, Redskins and Dolphins, but their schedule is too hard for them to bully their way into the playoffs. At some point they’re going to have to win against the league’s better teams to reach the postseason since nine of their 12 remaining games are against Green Bay, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Detroit, New England, Buffalo, Chicago and Los Angeles Rams. As a Giants fan, I hope they extend Dak Prescott before the losing gets too out of hand for the Cowboys.
KANSAS CITY -11 over Indianapolis
I know each week in the NFL season is essentially a one-week season and you can’t put a lot of stock into what you see from week to week. But it’s hard for me as someone who watched most of Raiders-Colts last week to not think the Chiefs might be able to tell their punter to stay home on Sunday.
SAN FRANCISCO -3.5 over Cleveland
So far, the Monday Night Football games have been Texans-Saints, Broncos-Raiders, Browns-Jets, Bears-Redskins and Bengals-Steelers. Outside of Texans-Saints, it will be nice to once again have a Monday night game with two teams worth staying up for.
I was completely wrong about the Ravens last week against the Browns, as the Ravens turned out to be the same frauds who were humiliated in the playoffs last year. I wasn’t necessarily wrong about the Browns though, since I still believe they are a seven- or eight-win team. If I’m going to be right about that, they’re going to need to continue to be the .500 team they are, and that means losing to equal or better opponents.
Last week: 5-10