By Neil Keefe
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This is the last easy week for the Giants. I know as a Giants fan I shouldn’t say anything like that now or ever again since nothing comes easy for this team or this franchise, but if they can’t beat the winless Dolphins on Sunday then … well … um … I don’t know what to say if they can’t beat the Dolphins on Sunday. Hey, at least it’s hockey season?
The Giants shot themselves in the foot with their home loss to the Seahawks that would have had them at 5-1 entering Week 8. Yes, I have tried to justify that loss by saying, “Hey, well the Giants probably shouldn’t have beaten the Eagles in Week 3, so it all evens out!” But I have realized that’s just ridiculous since the Eagles clearly aren’t as good as everyone thought they were. Actually they aren’t good at all.
Instead of dwelling on the devastating defeat to the Seahawks and good old Charlie Whitehurst (who actually made me consider trying out for the Seahawks a year ago when the Giants went to Seattle and left the city in ruins with their 41-7 win) it’s time to prepare for the future. And the future for the 2011 Giants is the Gauntlet. I talked about the Gauntlet in Week 7 and now it’s a week closer. There is no preventing the Gauntlet from happening no matter how badly I try to freeze time or push away reality, the Giants will finish the season with games against the Patriots, Eagles, Saints, Packers, Cowboys, Redskins, Jets and Dallas again. I might as well use Daylight Savings Time next week to set my clock back to 2010 or 2009 and prepare for the season-ending collapse for the Giants and a picture of Tom Coughlin on the back of the papers with a puzzled look on his face like someone is trying to explain to him that two plus two actually equals five. Pessimistic? No. Realistic.
For one more Sunday I have a football season and hope and a dream that the New York Football Giants will play a game after Week 17 for the first time in three years. After this Sunday it’s all up in the air and I might be reposting my preparation for a collapse story as every channel replays the last eight minutes of the Eagles game last year and the Eagles game from the year before that. Either way, I will be ready for the 2011 collapse like I was for the 2010 collapse. You know, if there is one.
Week 8 … let’s go!
(Home team in caps)
TENNESSE -9 over Indianapolis
I have picked the Titans in five of the six weeks that they have played. How have they repaid me? A nice 1-3-1 record. Thanks guys! But I have gone too far to turn back now. I have to pick the Titans at this point. I have to pick them because if I don’t and they cover, I will be in the same mood I’m in when Joe Girardi gives away outs like he has an abundance of them. Go Titans!
HOUSTON -9.5 over Jacksonville
I’m not falling for the Jaguars’ win on Monday Night Football and I’m not falling for the theory that the Texans won’t be good without Andre Johnson or Mario Williams. I’m just going with the better team here. The much, much, much better team.
CAROLINA -3.5 over Minnesota
Did you think I was kidding when I tweeted, “This is the last time Pick the Vikings all year” during their embarrassment against the Bears two weeks ago? Sure, the Vikings covered last week against the Packers of all teams (my bread and butter for the first seven weeks of the season), but I don’t care. This line could have been Carolina -49.5 and I would still take the Panthers. I hate you, Minnesota.
New Orleans -14 over ST. LOUIS
For some weird reason I want to take the Rams +14 here. But when I look at their schedule and see 0-6 with their average loss by 19 points I really can’t justify taking them in any way. Then when I factor in the Saints’ Sunday night massacre of the also-winless Colts, this game just feels too easy.
BALTIMORE -12.5 over Arizona
Did Joe Flacco set his career back five years with his performance on Monday Night Football? I think so. He actually tried to set all quarterbacks back five years along with the forward pass and the game of football.
It seems like the only thing standing between the Ravens and a trip to at least the AFC Championship Game is their own quarterback and as long as he doesn’t sabotage the season they should be fine. Luckily for Joe Flacco, he won’t need to do much on Sunday because his defense will give him great field position most of the day with Kevin Kolb on the other side of the ball.
NEW YORK GIANTS -9.5 over Miami
This is a must-win game for the Giants. If they lose this game before the Gauntlet then they might as well not even play the last nine games of the season. And I understand that a win’s a win, but if they don’t win this game convincingly they might as well not play the last nine games either.
BUFFALO -6 over Washington
The clock is close to striking midnight on the Bills. It’s about 11:51 p.m. and I get the feeling that Bills fans are getting the feeling that everything is about to come crashing down for them.
Detroit -3 over DENVER
I watched the Broncos’ season opener against the Raiders on Monday Night Football and I watched the crowd chant “Tim Tebow” as Kyle Orton led the Broncos to a loss. No the Broncos fans have their quarterback of choice even if he did pretty much take the Broncos out of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes last week and make it a two-team race between the Dolphins and the Colts.
I guess Broncos fans should be happy if rooting for Tim Tebow and an unknown future for the quarterback and the franchise makes you happy then who am I to tell you how to enjoy sports. Just don’t tell me not to pick the Lions when they are just three-point favorites in Denver.
New England -3 over PITTSBURGH
When Rudy is trying to gain admission to Notre Dame for the final time, Father Cavanaugh sees Rudy in the church praying for acceptance into the university and tells him, “Son, in years of religious studies I’ve come up with only two hard, incontrovertible facts: There is a God … and I’m not him.” Well Father Cavanaugh forgot to tell Rudy the third incontrovertible fact: Never bet against the Patriots after a bye week.
I am a little skeptical about this game because everyone is talking about the Patriots’ successful history against the Steelers and more importantly, Tom Brady’s history against the Steelers. But when a road team is giving three points at Heinz Field, it’s for a reason.
Cleveland +9 over SAN FRANCISCO
I don’t know what to make of the 49ers. I know what everyone else is making of them and I can’t see through the fog and the hype and decide if they are for real yet despite having my windows down, the front and rear defrosters on and the windshield wipers going. And I can’t figure it out because the 49ers have destroyed me in every imaginable way over the last few years, and they will likely again this week.
SEATTLE +3 over Cincinnati
This is that one game of the week that makes you think, “What the eff? I have to pick? Really? Do I really have to?
I probably shouldn’t take the Seahawks and it goes against my better judgment and statistics and the naked eye, but none of that matters anyway.
Dallas +3.5 over PHILADELPHIA
Yes, the Eagles are coming off a bye, but their only win in the last five weeks before the bye was a 20-13 victory of Jex Beckman (the Redskins’ two-headed monster of John Beck and Rex Grossman). But “Dream Teams” don’t pick off the other team’s starting quarterback four times and only win by a touchdown. Then again, “Dream Teams” don’t start the season 2-4 with their only wins against the Rams and the Redskins.
KANSAS CITY +4 over San Diego
Well, this is a freebie. If we know one thing about the Chargers other than that they aren’t very good once again, it’s that they don’t cover spreads. Not in 2011. Not in 2010. Not in 2009. Not ever.
The Chargers are 2-4 covering the spread this year and who are those covers against? A 10-point win against the Dolphins when the Chargers were seven-point favorites and a five-point win against the Broncos when the Chargers were four-point favorites.
Now they are playing a team on the road that they only beat by three points in Week 3 despite being 14.5-point favorites. Is this real life?
When the Chiefs beat the Chargers this week (that’s right this is my Upset of the Week), they will be in first place n the AFC West after getting off to an 0-3 start. Aren’t the NFL’s west divisions awesome?
LAST WEEK: 6-6-1
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