I originally planned on going to Tampa this coming weekend to see the Giants play the Buccaneers on Sunday and then see the Yankees play the Rays during the week. But between the Giants being the worst team in the NFC and the Yankees preparing to use spring training lineups for the final two weeks of the season, it didn’t make sense to go all the way to Florida to watch my teams play meaningless games.
Then Wednesday happened and Pat Shurmur announced Daniel Jones as this week’s starting quarterback, effectively ending Eli Manning’s career. I don’t think Manning is going to be traded, and I don’t know that he would want to be, and he’s certainly not coming back next season, so Sunday’s loss was probably the last time we ever see Manning play for the Giants, barring an injury to Jones or meaningless garbage-time minutes between now and Week 17. Had I kept my trip to Tampa, I would have gotten to see the start of the Jones era and the first time a quarterback other than Manning had a future with the team in nearly 15 years.
Unfortunately, this is the right move for the Giants. They aren’t competitive and aren’t going to reach the postseason this year. I don’t know when any Giants fan can expect them to reach the postseason again. This season now has to be about the future, which it was always going to be about, no matter how much BS ownership, Dave Gettleman or Pat Shurmur spewed to the media in the offseason. It’s why the Giants should have either moved on from Manning before the draft, or committed to Manning, and used all of their draft picks to help the team win now. Instead, they tried to do a little bit of both and it’s led to an offense without any healthy and capable wide receivers, and a defense lacking a pass, secondary and the basic fundamentals of trying to prevent the other team from scoring.
The moment the Giants drafted Jones, Gettleman and Shurmur’s employment timer with the Giants began, and now that he’s actually going to play and has a potential 14 games to showcase his abilities in, that employment timer is going to pick up its pace. The general manager and head coach are tied to the success or failure of Jones, as is the entire organization, and if he proves to be an NFL quarterback over the next 15 weeks, they will keep their jobs. If he doesn’t, another duo, hopefully a better duo, will get to pick the future of the team at the 2020 draft.
It’s going to take the rest of the season to properly evaluate Jones as a potential franchise quarterback and determine whether or not the current front office made the right decision or if they wasted the sixth overall pick and an entire season, and unnecessarily ended the career of the best quarterback in franchise history. The Giants’ future begins on Sunday in Tampa. At least there’s a reason to watch for the rest of the season.
Back-to-back 7-9 weeks to start the season isn’t great from a record standpoint, but is good enough to have survived the first weeks of the season and all of the quarterback injuries to stay afloat. Week 3 is a chance to get above .500 and stay above .500.
(Home team in caps)
JACKSONVILLE +2 over Tennessee
It’s hard to put a lot of faith into Gardner Minishew, but the replacement for Nick Foles has been better than expected after taking over early in Week 1 and playing a full game in Week 2. It hasn’t translated into wins, as the Jaguars are 0-2, but at least the Jaguars have a serviceable option at quarterback and can at least expect to be competitive, unlike say, the Jets.
I expected big things out of the Titans this season, and after their Week 1 win over the Browns, I felt great about them. But then they laid an egg in their home opener in an expected low-scoring AFC South game, and I saw the usual .500-esque offense from the Titans, led by Marcus Mariota’s blah game.
I had a lot of fun rooting for, picking for and winning money on the Jaguars in their run to the AFC Championship Game a couple years ago, and I thought I was going to have similar fun this season with Foles as their quarterback and one of the league’s best defenses. That idea hasn’t gone according to plan, but there’s still time for it to happen, if the Jaguars can win this week. If not, their season’s over at 0-3.
NEW ENGLAND -23 over New York Jets
I love the college line the Jets are getting this week and the Dolphins got last week and will continue to get.
If Sam Darnold had played on Monday night, the Jets would have won. The Browns were so underwhelming and Baker Mayfield looked so bad that had the Jets had even just a bad quarterback and not two awful options, they might have won. Instead, the Jets watched Trevor Siemian suffer a season-ending injury and then watched Luke Falk run a game plan in which nearly every pass was thrown behind the line of scrimmage en route to their loss.
This line could be 35 and I still couldn’t take the Jets. I get that it’s ridiculously high and if the Jets were to ever find the end zone even once it might complicate things since their defense is solid, but I don’t think they’re going to find the end zone on offense. Maybe on defense or special teams, but that can’t be counted on.
Cincinnati +6 over BUFFALO
What a gift the Bills received from the NFL getting scheduled to open the season against two bad teams in the Jets and Giants on the road, in the same state, a short plane ride away to MetLife. The Bills are 2-0 as a result of getting to play against the shaky Jets and defenseless Giants and have already played 25 percent of their road schedule. Now with home games against Cincinnati and Miami within the next month, there’s a good chance the Bills could be at 5-3 or even 4-3 a month from now.
Except these are the Bills we’re talking about. If there’s a possibility to screw something up, they will screw it up. Having a Week 3 home game and their home opener against the Bengals seems like it can be counted as a W, but again, these are the Bills. The Bills were fortunate to play their first two games against teams which will most likely get to draft in the first five picks in 2020.
The Bengals did get blown out at by San Francisco last week, but held their own in Seattle the week before. I don’t think the Bengals are good or are going to necessarily win in Buffalo, but it’s hard to believe the Bills could be giving six points to any team, and it’s even harder to believe they will cover.
DALLAS -21.5 over Miami
When the Dolphins start running plays on their opponent’s side of the field, I will start considering taking them to cover the massive spreads for their games, which are only going to grow in size as the season goes on. I don’t think Josh Rosen is going to get the chance he spoke about at the 2018 draft to make all the teams that passed on him regret passing on him.
GREEN BAY -8 over Denver
This game will be used in teasers more than any other game in Week 3. That normally would be enough to scare me into taking the points, but not after watching Denver play at Oakland in Week 1.
INDIANAPOLIS -1.5 over Atlanta
It’s possible the Jacoby Brissett Colts are just as good as the Andrew Luck Colts. They have played well in the first two weeks of the season and look as good as they did at the end of last year before losing to the Texans in a weird game in the postseason.
I know what the Falcons are and have made my reasons for continuing to pick against them and their head coach clear in previous picks blogs. I’m not about to go against my principles, especially when the Falcons have to go on the road and face a better, more well-rounded team.
KANSAS CITY -6.5 over Baltimore
I need at least a touchdown to fall back on if I’m going to pick against the Chiefs.
MINNESOTA -9 over Oakland
Last week, in reference to their successful Week 1 game plan, in which the Vikings only let Kirk Cousins throw the ball 10 times, I wrote: 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. Well, Cousins threw the ball 32 times in Week 2, and what do you know, he threw two interceptions, fumbled the ball twice and lost one of the fumbles.
It’s impressive the Vikings only lost by five with the way Cousins played, and had anyone other than Kirk Cousins as their quarterback, they would be 2-0 this season. Had anyone other than Cousins been their quarterback last season, they probably would have won the NFC North and returned to the NFC Championship Game too. But the Vikings are stuck with Cousins, who is bad as it gets at throwing accurate passes and maintaining possession, and it’s hard to envision them going anywhere as long as he’s on the team.
Fortunately for the Vikings, they get the Raiders at home this week in what should be a rout. If it’s not, that should tell you all you need to know about this team’s chances with Cousins, as if there hasn’t been enough to tell you all you need to know since the start of last season.
PHILADELPHIA -6.5 over Detroit
The Eagles are dangerously close to being 0-2, but I guess most teams in the NFL are always dangerously close to having a completely opposite record. I know this because I’m a Giants fan who has watched them lose many games in recent years decided by three points or less and most games by seven points or less. At some point, the Eagles are going to look like a team expected to win the NFC East and compete for a second championship in three years. What better time to look like this team than at home agains the Lions.
ARIZONA 0 over Carolina
I was upset with myself for picking the Panthers on Thursday Night Football in Week 2 the second the Panthers offense took the field. The Panthers have one playmaker in their entire offense in Christian McCaffrey and the Panthers run nearly every single play through him. I have no idea how he’s going to be able to hold up for a lengthy career with the way he’s used in Carolina, but for now, the Panthers have no choice.
Cam Newton has drastically regressed since his 2015 MVP season and the only way the Panthers can be successful is by handing the ball off to McCaffrey or by throwing him a two- or-three-yard pass and hoping he can gain significant yards after the catch. It’s an easy offense and strategy to prepare for, and even the rookie-led Cardinals will be able to handle it.
TAMPA BAY -6.5 over New York Giants
It doesn’t matter that Jameis Winston isn’t good because it doesn’t matter which quarterback plays against the Giants’ defense, they are going to get lit up. That the Giants are going on the road against a Bruce Arians offense in what will be the first start for Daniel Jones makes this a rather easy pick for me. A 16-year veteran could barely function without any NFL-worthy receivers. I’m sure a rookie debut in his NFL debut will do much better.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS -3.5 over Houston
The Chargers left the Pacific Time Zone, and unsurprisingly, they lost. A return home this week should return the real Chargers, who can only really be trusted in games played in California.
New Orleans +4 over SEATTLE
Once upon a time, Teddy Bridgewater was the starting quarterback of the Vikings and led them to what should have been a postseason win over the Seahawks, if not for a Blair Walsh 27-yard field-goal attempt.
Since Bridgewater’s career-altering knee injury with the Vikings, the Vikings have traded away a first-round draft pick for Sam Bradford, only to have a 5-0 season end at 8-8, and they have turned to Case Keenum, who led them to within a win of the Super Bowl, only to move on from Keenum to give a guaranteed $84 million to Kirk Cousins, who is at best as good as Keenum.
The Vikings could have kept Bridgewater following his knee injury and eaten the money they would have been forced to pay him while he was injured and it would have been a whole lot less than the money they guaranteed to Cousins. Had Bridgewater not been able to make a comeback from his injury, the team could have stayed with Keenum as quarterback. They would have retained the first-rounder they gave away for Bradford and would have had a lot more salary-cap space available without Cousins. Since Bridgewater did make a comeback, he would be the quarterback, the offensive and defensive lines would have more money invested in them, and the Vikings would be better than they are currently and would have been better than they were last year as well.
I don’t like the Saints, but I love Bridgewater, and I’m rooting for him to make the Vikings’ front office continue to look foolish.
SAN FRANCISCO -6 over Pittsburgh
The Steelers are headed toward a long, loss-filled season. The lines for their games are only going to grow in size as the season progresses. Get in on going against the Steelers before the lines get too high.
Los Angeles Rams -3 over CLEVELAND
I picked against the Browns last week before it was announced the Jets would start Siemian. Unfortunately, the Jets were essentially quarterback-less on Monday night and gave away a winnable game. But my need for the Browns to lose and be losers with Odell Beckham on the team still exists.
Chicago -4 over WASHINGTON
The Bears went into this season with Super Bowl aspirations. After two weeks, they don’t look like a playoff team, forget a championship contender. I don’t know how the Bears or Bears fan can believe in Mitch Trubisky, or how they can think they will ever win it all with him. Maybe Trubisky will greatly improve, and maybe the first weeks of the season will be looked back on as anomaly for this Bears season, but scoring three points at home in Week 1 and needing a time-expiring field goal to the beat the Broncos in Week 2 isn’t exactly promising.
I still believe in the Bears, because of their defense and because of their running game, but Week 3 is about as must-win as it gets with Minnesota (twice), New Orleans, Los Angeles Chargers, Philadelphia, Los Angeles Rams, Dallas, Green Bay and Kansas City on their schedule.
The Bears need a big win at Washington.
Last week: 7-9