It’s the home stretch. The final month and four weeks of the regular season to take us through the holidays and into the playoffs where the Giants won’t be the for the third straight year.
It was weird in the 2011 playoffs against the Falcons when the Giants were playing their first playoff game since losing to the Eagles in the 2008 playoffs to think about how much time had passed between postseason appearances for them (obviously not a lot compared to other teams, but a lot for the Giants) and if the Giants are to rebound next season and reach the playoffs again, it will be a year longer drought from Super Bowl XLVI to then than it was from 2008-11.
The Giants have gone 18-26 since winning the Super Bowl and now we are likely looking at the last month of Tom Coughlin’s 11-year tenure with the team. When the Giants were defending champions and 6-2 and back in 2012, I didn’t think two years later I would be wondering when the next time they would make the playoffs would be, but here we are looking at another postseason-less Giants season. And to make matters worse, the Patriots appear headed back to the Super Bowl and if the Giants aren’t there to stop them, who will?
(Home team in caps)
Dallas -4 over CHICAGO
When the Bears were leading the Lions 14-3 on Thanksgiving, I was not only wondering why I didn’t bet the Bears to cover, but why I didn’t hammer the Bears’ money line as well. But then that 14-3 led to a 24-3 deficit and at the end of it all, the Bears lost 34-17, were outscored 31-3 after that early lead and finished with 13 rushing yards and two more Jay Cutler interceptions. Every week that I take the Bears makes me feel like Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates and Sunday represents Adam Sandler making me remember why I swore to no longer pick the Bears back in Week 6.
Baltimore +3 over MIAMI
I wouldn’t mind jumping on the Dolphins’ bandwagon if they were to make the playoffs as currently one of five 7-5 teams in the AFC. The problem is that jumping on their bandwagon would likely be a short ride to elimination. I don’t like the Dolphins aside from the fact that they match up well with the Patriots (which John Jastremski eluded to on the podcast this week) and that is enough for me to pull for the Dolphins since it could mean ending the Patriots’ season. But aside from that, the Dolphins aren’t a team anyone should feel confident backing, considering their narrow escape against the Jets, their meltdown against the Packers and their early-season debacles against the Bills and Chiefs. I need to see a little more than a three-point victory against a Geno Smith-led Jets team playing for nothing in Week 13 to have me put my faith in a team this January (if they make it).
CINCINNATI -3 over Pittsburgh
Two of my least favorite teams meeting this week and for some reason I’m doing the dumbest thing anyone picking NFL games by the spread can do aside from picking Jay Cutler giving points: picking Andy Dalton giving points. I’m wondering at what point of the game I will regret this pick and the over/under is currently set at the first TV timeout. But to be fair, the Bengals have won three straight, are home where they have lost once in the last two years and did go into the Superdome three weeks ago and beat the Saints, which is something as rare as getting a seat on a Metro North train that doesn’t have some unusual stain or residue on it.
Indianapolis -4 over CLEVELAND
I would like to know what this line would be if Johnny Manziel were starting. And whatever that line is, I would be taking the Browns to cover it. I’m not sure how Mike Pettine has watched Brian Hoyer recently and watched Johnny Manziel was able to do in limited time and thinks that Hoyer gives his team the best chance to win. Yes, the Browns are 7-5 this season with Hoyer throwing 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and everyone is acting as if what he is doing is improbable when they should be surprised the Browns have a 7-5 record despite his inconsistent play and should be wondering how many more wins the team could have if Manziel had been the starter. But I’m sure Pettine will bench Hoyer for Manziel at some point on Sunday with the Colts holding a commanding lead and the Browns will fall to 7-6 and waste a chance at giving themselves the best chance to win a home game in December with a playoff spot on the line.
Jacksonville +6.5 over HOUSTON
Somewhere someone who isn’t a Jaguars fan or a Texans fan is going to bet on this game and watch it in its entirety. Think about that.
New York Giants -1.5 over TENNESSEE
I have never used this on the Giants before, but after what happened in Jacksonville, I’m not sure how a TV network can justify shelling out an exorbitant amount of money to broadcast this game when they could just donate that money to charity or pay for some kids to go to college. Here it goes:
Somewhere someone who isn’t a Giants fan or a Titans fan is going to bet on this game and watch it in its entirety. Think about that.
NEW ORLEANS -10 over Carolina
I thought I knew who the Saints were. I thought they were indestructible in the Superdome and just had to worry about finding a way to win two or three road games each year to make the playoffs. But then they went and lost three straight home games for the first time since 2005 before bouncing back on the road in Pittsburgh. If the Saints can’t win at the Superdome, but can suddenly win on the road and in a place like Heinz Field then how is anyone picking games or wagering on games anymore? The Saints are definitely going to win the NFC South with a losing record and then win their first-round playoff game to make up for what happened to them in the 2010 playoffs in Seattle after a week of every talking head show debating about how unfair it is that an under-.500 team received a playoff berth.
DETROIT -10 over Tampa Bay
I was ready to write how Ford Field is becoming what the Superdome once was and then I remembered that the Bills went there and won back in Week 5. But even if Detroit’s home-field advantage isn’t what New Orleans’ has been during the Sean Payton era, this year it’s strong enough that this game will be teased down by every person making a teaser this week.
St. Louis -3 over WASHINGTON
“RGIII and Out” might be the best nickname I have ever heard in my life and I can’t wait to bring it up when I talk to my friend and Redskins fan Ray Schneider next week on the site before the Giants and Redskins meet for what should be promoted as the “Battle for the Basement” in the NFC East. With reports surfacing that Jay Gruden is done with RGIII and wants him off his team just two years removed from winning the division, the Redskins are following the Jets’ path to success: one step forward, 93 steps backward.
MINNESOTA -6 over New York Jets
I can’t stop thinking about what the Vikings’ season could have been if Teddy Bridgewater had been the starting quarterback from Week 1, Adrian Peterson didn’t behave the way he did and if Norv Turner ever realized that Cordarrelle Patterson is on his team. At the worst, their 5-7 season could easily have been flipped and at 7-5 right now, they would be in the mix for a playoff spot. But they’re not.
DENVER -10 over Buffalo
I don’t really trust the Broncos anymore and I don’t know if they will be able to overtake the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC from the Patriots over the next four weeks, and if they’re not, we might as well cancel the AFC playoffs and pencil in the Patriots for the Super Bowl. It’s time the Broncos played like the Broncos.
ARIZONA +1 over Kansas City
Bruce Arians probably regrets saying that the Cardinals can still win the Super Bowl with Drew Stanton as his quarterback, but really believing Stanton was that good wasn’t his biggest problem. His biggest problem was saying “can still win” as if the Cardinals could have won with Carson Palmer as their quarterback. The Cardinals’ three-game lead has slipped to a one-game lead in the division and after they missed out on the playoffs at 10-6 last year while the 8-7-1 Packers were in, the Cardinals deserve to have a little redemption this season.
San Francisco -9 over OAKLAND
I would take San Francisco -24 here and if they didn’t cover I wouldn’t even care. I don’t know how anyone could feel confident taking the Raiders to cover or even score after what happened last week.
Seattle +1 over PHILADELPHIA
Right now, the Patriots have the 1-seed in the AFC, which means they are pretty much going to the Super Bowl. The only two NFC teams I think that can beat them in Arizona in February are the Seahawks and Packers, so I will be rooting for both teams (two teams I don’t like) the rest of the season until one emerges from the NFC.
SAN DIEGO +4 over New England
This pick is about one thing and one thing only: getting the Broncos the 1-seed.
GREEN BAY -13 over Atlanta
The Packers are the best home team in the league right now and against a 5-7 Falcons team that is currently leading the NFC South, 13 points feels too low.
Last week: 9-7-0