I usually reserve this space in the weekly picks blog to write about the Giants, but I’m not sure that will continue this season. Like Tony Perkis telling Nicholas in Heavyweights, “I’m a beaten man.”
The Giants have beaten me up since the beginning of the 2017 season, losing 25 of their last 33 games, and there’s nothing left to beat as a Giants fan. They have lost because of their quarterback; they have lost because of their receivers; they have lost because of their offensive line; they have lost because of their defensive line; they have lost because of their secondary; they have lost because of their coaching; they have lost in blow-out fashion; they have lost in the final minute; they have lost as time expires. The Giants have lost in every way imaginable over the last two-plus seasons and it’s hard to take it anymore. They aren’t a team in the middle of a rebuild with a light at the end of the tunnel and a clear timeline for when they will be competitive again. They are a team in the middle of a rebuild with no light at the end of the tunnel and no clear timeline for when they will be competitive again.
Thankfully, I have no expectations for them this season and don’t expect them to make the playoffs or go on a postseason run. My expectations are for them to be one of the worst teams in the league and once again pick near the top of the draft in 2020. Week 1 was enough for me to realize this is going to happen and I don’t know how it will get better or when it will be fun and enjoyable to watch the Giants.
Week 1 is all about survival and not getting buried with the picks record for the season just as the season begins. I survived Week 1. It wasn’t pretty, but coming away with a 7-9 record after some sloppy football and wild finishes is more than acceptable, at least to me. Week 2 has always been the hardest week of the season for me, and I’m sure it will be again this year.
(Home team in caps)
CAROLINA -7 over Tampa Bay
I love Thursday Night Football because it means football. I hate Thursday Night Football because of this blog. But the one thing I have learned over the years is if you’re unsure of who to take, take the home team on Thursday night. It makes it a little easier when the road team is the Buccaneers.
New England -18.5 over Miami
I don’t care about Tom Brady’s odd career record in Miami and I don’t care about all the weird things that have happened to the Patriots down south. This Dolphins team is unlike any other Brady has ever faced since this Dolphins team isn’t even trying to win and isn’t even fielding an NFL-caliber roster.
The Dolphins have one goal this season: lose more games than any other team. Achieving that goal will get them Tua Tagovailoa, and getting him will speed up their rebuilding process. The lines for Dolphins games are only going to go up, s0 feel safe teasing them now because pretty soon the lines are are going to be Alabama vs. New Mexico State-esque.
BALTIMORE -13.5 over Arizona
Kyler Murray’s NFL debut looked like it was going to be a flop when the Cardinals were trailing the Lions 24-6 early in the fourth quarter. But Murray led the Cardinals to a comeback which included a touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald with 43 seconds remaining and a successful two-point conversion to Christian Kirk to send the game to overtime, eventually tying 27-27.
Unfortunately, Murray’s feel-good start to his career and search for his first win will be put on hold in Week 2. This isn’t about the Ravens demolishing the Dolphins like a lopsided August college football matchup, this is about the Ravens being a postseason team with arguably the best defense in the league whether they embarrassed the Dolphins on the road or not. The Cardinals historically have been a disaster in Eastern Time Zone games and that’s only going to be enhanced for a rookie quarterback and rookie head coach flying across the country to face for the Ravens’ home opener.
San Francisco -1.5 over CINCINNATI
This is the type of game where I have no idea which way to lean and wonder who would ever bet on this game and it becomes the easiest pick of the day and the biggest laugher from a score standpoint. One of these teams will probably win in a blowout. I hope I’m picking the right team.
Los Angeles Chargers -2.5 over DETROIT
If anyone watched the Lions blow a late lead to a rookie quarterback/head coach combination like I did on early Sunday night, you too would not pick the Lions to cover. I don’t need any other information other than the fourth quarter of Week 1 to make this pick.
Minnesota +3 over GREEN BAY
It took the Vikings a full season and a disappointing 8-8 record to realize Kirk Cousins isn’t good. I guess better late than never. We know the Vikings have come to terms that they should have kept the much cheaper Case Keenum and not destroyed their salary-cap situation by signing Cousins because of their Week 1 game plan. The Vikings let Cousins only throw the ball 10 times in their win over the Falcons, running the ball 38 times instead of letting their unreliable and untrustworthy quarterback decide the game.
That game plan is likely the one the Packers thought they were going to see in Chicago before the Bears forgot who their quarterback is, so the Packers will be ready for it this week, except the Vikings have much better personnel than the Bears to pull it off. If the Vikings stick to their plan and don’t allow Cousins to ruin the game, they will be 2-0 and in first place in the NFC North. If they go back to what made them unsuccessful last year, they will be unsuccessful again.
HOUSTON -9 over Jacksonville
It’s never good to have a team +10.5 in a five-team, seven-point teaser and have that team’s quarterback break his clavicle on a 75-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter and have that team’s best defensive player get ejected from the game for throwing punches also in the first quarter, especially when that team is playing the best offense in the league. Yes, I had the Jaguars +10.5 in a five-team, seven-point teaser.
The Texans covered for me and should have won if not for playing the old prevent defense, which unsurprisingly gave the Saints a time-expiring win. The Texans surprised me and looked much better than I expected them to and DeAndre Hopkins looked as good as ever despite already being the best wide receiver in the league. Usually, I would have a hard time picking for the Texans, but here I am picking them to cover in back-to-back weeks to open the season.
Buffalo -2 over NEW YORK GIANTS
I have a feeling the first defensive and first offensive drives of the season are the only two times I will be happy with the Giants this season. Actually, I know they will. Because after seeing Sunday’s debacle in Dallas, I know the Giants still suck and didn’t improve at all on either side of the ball. This wasn’t just one game and it’s not early and only Week 1. This is a continuation of the 2018 season which was a continuation of the 2017 season.
So why would I ever pick the Giants to win their home opener against the Bills, who were also in MetLife on Sunday to overcome a 16-point second-half deficit to the beat the Jets, who at least on paper are must better than the Giants? I don’t care that the Bills will always be the Bills and I don’t care that the Jets will always be the Jets. The Giants are still the Giants of the last two-plus seasons and that’s much worse than the Bills.
Seattle +4.5 over PITTSBURGH
The Seahawks almost lost to the Bengals at home and almost knocked me out of my survivor pool on the first Sunday of the season. The Steelers were flat-out embarrassed, and Mike Tomlin rightfully ripped his team, and himself, after the ugly loss. I always have a hard time trusting either of these teams, but the difference is the Seahawks are coming off a narrow win at home to a team going nowhere and the Steelers lost on Sunday Night Football to the best team in the league. Logic would suggest the Steelers will play better at home and the Seahawks will play worse on the road this week, but there’s no logic in the NFL and nothing truly matters from week to week as each week is essentially its own season. For that, I’m regrettably picking the Seahawks.
TENNESSEE -3 over Indianapolis
I would like to thank the Titans for going to Cleveland and blowing out the Browns in Week 1. It was beautiful. Watching Odell Beckham be a part of another loss and Baker Mayfield scrambling to avoid eventual sacks before losing it on the officials with only a few minutes remaining in a four-score game was enjoyable. Beckham did get his targets (11), receptions (7) and yards (71), so I’m sure he didn’t care that the team lost. I’m going to show my appreciation for the Titans by picking them again in Week 2.
Dallas -5 WASHINGTON
I used to care about other NFC East matchups because they would have implications for the Giants and the postseason. The Giants aren’t going to the postseason unless they buy tickets, so I have to find other reasons to determine who to pull for in division games.
I don’t think Dak Prescott is a good quarterback, and the longer he plays for the Cowboys, the less of a chance they have of winning a championship. Since the Cowboys are in extension mode right now giving out years and money to anyone who comes in contact with Jerry Jones, it only makes sense that Prescott is next. It was all the FOX broadcast talked about during Sunday’s game against the Giants, and the Giants did their part by making Prescott look like a superstar by allowing him to throw four touchdown passes while racking up yards thanks to yards after the catch against the Giants’ horrendous defense.
The better Prescott plays, the more years and money he will get in his eventual contract extension. The more years and money he gets, the more players the Cowboys won’t be able to sign in the future, and hopefully that future coincides with the Giants return to being a competitive team. Here’s to Prescott going off against the Redskins and adding more zeros to his future contract!
Kansas City -7.5 over OAKLAND
The game which will be most used in teasers is also the second-best survivor pool game of the week. The Jaguars and their preseason top-ranked defense couldn’t stop the Chiefs, so I have no idea how the Raiders plan on doing so. The over/under on Chiefs punts in this game is 0.5 and I’m taking under.
Chicago -2.5 over DENVER
After the Bears proved that running the ball and playing great defense is still a successful formula in the NFL last season, they apparently thought they had now become the Saints of the north, allowing Mitch Trubisky to throw 45 times in Week 1, while only running the ball 12 times. That formula resulted in three points and a disastrous season-opening loss despite holding Aaron Rodgers to 203 passing yard and 10 points.
I have no idea what Matt Nagy was thinking in Week 1. What unfolded for the Bears couldn’t have been their game plan since someone in the organization would have spoken up and said, “Um, what the eff are we doing?” Nagy must have inexplicably changed course during the game, deciding to go with an air-it-out strategy. The only problem with that strategy is that his quarterback is Trubisky, who isn’t capable of that type of game, as a one-read-only passer who telegraphs nearly all of his passes.
I have to think the Bears will get back to what led them to a division title last season. If they do, the Broncos, who were beat up by the talent-less Raiders won’t have a chance.
LOS ANGELES RAMS -2.5 over New Orleans
This is a tough one. Not because the two teams are possibly the best two teams in the NFC again this season after playing each other to overtime in the NFC Championship Game last season. It’s tough because I have to pick for either the Rams, who laid an all-time egg in the Super Bowl against the Patriots, or the Saints, who no longer cover the spread at the Superdome and who cost me a two-team Championship Sunday parlay in January. The reason to not pick the Rams has more staying power and had a much more negative impact on my life, but the reason to not pick the Saints is more recent, including Monday night’s game in which a Drew Brees red-zone interception coupled with a Will Lutz missed field goal caused the Saints to not cover. I guess the only way to settle this is to go with the home team.
Philadelphia -1.5 over ATLANTA
If the Falcons’ season keeps going the way Week 1 went, Dan Quinn is going to be fired in a move which should have been made the second the Falcons blew their 28-3 second-half lead to the Patriots in the Super Bowl. I don’t know how Arthur Blank can live with Quinn as his head coach after what happened in that Super Bowl and I’m not sure how he has kept him on after that loss and two more disappointing seasons. This season has to be Quinn’s last. It has to be. Until he’s gone it will be hard for me to ever pick the Falcons.
NEW YORK JETS +2.5 over Cleveland
I used to love Odell Beckham and would defend him because of his talent and because he had single-handedly won a few games for the Giants. That all ended last October when I wrote I’m Done Defending Odell Beckham after he helped lead the Giants to a season-crushing loss to the Panthers. I turned on Beckham for good at the right time, as it was clear he would never be part of the solution for the Giants and was only going to be part of the problem, if not the problem.
After the one-handed catch in Dallas made him a household name, he did everything he could to be in and remain in the spotlight. From outrageous in-game antics to unnecessary sideline actions to bizarre off-the-field behavior, Beckham wanted to be the focal point of every Giants game, win or lose. After the emergence of Saquon Barkley last season, Beckhamn desperately tried to hold his status as the Giants’ star attraction by increasing his sideline shows and saying whatever he felt would keep his name in headlines.
Eventually, Beckham’s behavior and inability to stay healthy overshadowed his ability on the field. The Giants decided the organization would be better off without the player they made the highest-paid receiver in history and the culture of the Giants would never change as long as he was a member of it.
Since Beckham’s arrival in Cleveland, he has kept up the same act he had with the Giants, speaking about his time and dismissal from the Giants at every chance and going over the top with his look-at-me longing for attention. Beckham wore a $190,000 watch in the Browns’ season opener, a game the Browns lost, adding to the embarrassing record for the Giants and Browns when Beckham has played for them. When asked about the watch, Beckham acted though he was the victim of a media attack, never recognizing for a moment he would never need to know the time of day in the middle of a game and never admitting the decision to wear a clearly visible watch in an NFL game was all for publicity.
Like I said last week, since the Giants can’t be expected to win the Super Bowl this season, my rooting interest has turned to rooting against the Browns because of Beckham. All Week 1 did was make me want to root harder against them, even if they’re playing the Jets.
Last week: 7-9