Eli Manning had to overcome a three-point deficit with 1:13 and three timeouts left. It was too much time and too many timeouts for the Redskins to stop. I knew it, MetLife Stadium knew it and you better believe Mike Shanahan and Jim Haslett knew it. I was worried that the Giants might fall to 0-3 in the NFC East with an overtime loss to the Redskins, but I knew the game was at least going to overtime. The Giants were going to come back. I just didn’t know they were going to come back on the second play from their own 23.
Sunday’s game was the same old Giants. A perfect mix of undisciplined penalties, costly turnovers, missed opportunities and then a fourth-quarter comeback. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even need to watch the first 58 minutes of the game because I know what’s going to happen in those 58 minutes and what’s going to happen in the last two minutes. It’s actually a better idea that I don’t watch the first 58 minutes of the game because it will save me from heartache, stress, increased blood pressure and the need to drink. The Giants are always going to be who they are for the first 58 minutes. They just need to continue to be who they are in the final two minutes.
Two weeks ago I just posted my picks without any take on the picks or the teams because my attention was on the Yankees postseason, which ended in embarrassing fashion. I went 8-6 that week. Last week I returned to a full picks column (on Friday instead of Thursday) and I went 6-7-1 with my sixth under-.500 week in seven weeks. The season is 41 percent over and after this week it will be 47 percent over. Halloween is in six days and Thanksgiving is in four weeks. It’s getting late early for my picks and it’s time to make a run.
Week 8 picks … let’s go!
(Home team in caps)
MINNESOTA -6.5 over Tampa Bay
I talked with Phil Simms for CBS Local Sports on Monday and he praised the Minnesota Vikings and their great defense and their system. He talked glowingly about every aspect of the Vikings including their outdated dome and their fans. It made me a believer in a team that’s already 5-2 with a bandwagon that’s quickly filling up, as you can see by another somewhat surprising home line. If the man who started the “I’m going to Disney World!” line is sold on the Vikings then so am I.
ST. LOUIS RAMS -7 over New England
The Patriots are giving seven points on the road? I can’t even ask that question with a straight face. Is it 2007? Is George W. Bush still the President? Did I miss something? Are the Patriots not 4-3 with losses to the Cardinals and Seahawks and a home overtime win over Mark Sanchez and the Darrelle Revis/Santonio Holmes-less Jets? Is this real life?
The Patriots have the same public perception that the Yankees have: they’re supposed to win. The difference is that the Yankees won just three years ago while the Patriots last won eight years ago. But even as the Patriots’ elite status begins to crumble and they move closer and closer to the pack in an awful AFC East, people still want to believe that the Patriots are the Patriots of the last decade. But they’re not and people like Mike Hurley won’t accept this until the bottom finally falls out for them and they miss the postseason.
Until that secondary gets fixed and Russell Wilson and Mark Sanchez aren’t able to pick it apart, I’m not picking the Patriots to cover a touchdown with or without Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.
TENNESSEE -3.5 over Indianapolis
It’s the “Do I Really Have to Pick This Game of the Week?” The Colts run defense is bad and Chris Johnson might be back. That’s enough to scare me from the Colts. Well, that and in their two road games they have lost by 20 and 26.
CLEVELAND +3 over San Diego
I will do anything to pick against the Chargers. Anything. Even if “anything” means picking the Browns.
PHILADELPHIA -2 over Atlanta
If I really believe the Falcons aren’t as good as their 6-0 record suggests or as good as people want them to be then I have no choice, but to pick the Eagles here. As much as it pains me to pick the Eagles to win a game when it looks like another season without a postseason for the Eagles and another season full or dysfunction and humiliation and maybe Michael Vick’s last stand as a starting quarterback in the NFL, I have to take the Eagles if I want to continue to tell people that I don’t think the Falcons are the class of the NFC. I don’t have a choice.
DETROIT -2.5 over Seattle
I don’t want to pick any game that involves the Seahawks ever again. They screwed me (along with the replacement refs) against the Packers. They screwed me (along with Nate Ebner) against the Patriots. They screwed me (along with Jim Harbaugh, who decided to decline a holding penalty that would have resulted in a safety and a nine-point win) against the 49ers. Nothing good can come from any game involving the Seahawks and I will pick against them for the rest of 2012. And oh, I hate Pete Carroll. So there’s that too.
NEW YORK JETS -2.5 over Miami
Vegas thinks the Dolphins are better than the Jets with this line, but I don’t think they are. But if I had to pick the one game in Week 8 that I wouldn’t be surprised to lose, it’s this one.
CHICAGO -7.5 over Carolina
The Bears are the biggest threat to the 2012 New York Football Giants in the NFC. The Panthers are the biggest threat to a generation of kids growing up in Carolina, but liking another NFL team.
PITTSBURGH -4.5 over Washington
This line is what it is because the Redskins stayed with the Giants at MetLife last week. But anyone who knows the Giants know that home field is a disadvantage to them. There are two guarantees in the NFL: The Giants will always play up and down to their competition and they will always suck at home. That’s not an opinion, that’s a fact. It’s science. The Redskins were not allowing a 77-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Victor Cruz away from being in first place in the NFC East, but now they are 3-4 and going to Heinz Field where a real home-field advantage exists. DeAngelo Hall might want to start making excuses for his team’s defense now to use after Sunday’s game.
Oakland +1 over KANSAS CITY
The Raiders might be 2-4 and 0-3 on the road with an average loss of 32-13, but Kansas City is 1-5 and Brady Quinn is starting.
New York Giants -2.5 over DALLAS
Eli Manning has never lost at Cowboys Stadium. The Giants are 3-0 in Dallas since the new stadium opened and have put up 33, 41 and 37 points there and this is the best offense the Giants have had since the Cowboys got a new home.
DENVER -6 over New Orleans
The Saints held on for a comeback win in Tampa Bay in Week 7. (That sentence should be all you need to know about the 2012 Saints.) The Saints have won back-to-back games even if the first of these wins was a guarantee with the Chargers going to the SuperDome as Drew Brees tried to break Johnny Unitas’ record and if the second game was against the Buccaneers, who are the Buccaneers. They are now 2-4 and giving Who Dat Nation a giant case of blue balls with the ultimate tease that they are capable of going on an extended winning streak to bring them back into the playoff picture. If this were a Disney movie that would happen. If this were even a made-for-TV movie it might happen. But this is real life and in real life the Saints have the Broncos in Denver coming off a bye. Then they have the Eagles and Falcons before the Raiders, followed by the 49ers, Falcons and Giants. The Saints’ season ended after Week 3 when they fell to 0-3 against the easiest part of their schedule.
San Francisco -7 over ARIZONA
Yes, I’m hoping that Alex Smith can put up points against a defense that has only allowed 21 points once this season. It’s better than hoping that John Skelton can put up any points against a defense that has only allowed more than 19 points to Eli Manning and Aaron Rodgers.
Last Week: 5-7-1