By Neil Keefe
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Monday night was the worst Giants game I can remember in a long, long time. Well, actually, there was the embarrassment against the Eagles two weeks ago and the debacle at the Meadowlands last year against the Eagles that cost the Giants a playoff berth. Then there was the time the Giants finished the 2009 season by losing to the Panthers (the last Giants game ever at Giants Stadium) and the Vikings, getting outscored 88-16 in the two games. And there was that whole letdown in 2008 after Plaxico Burress shot himself. So, I guess it hasn’t really been that long.
The problem is as bad as it was on Monday (and it was bad), there’s a chance it’s going to get a whole lot worse this Sunday and then the cherry might get placed on top of this latest second-half collapse the following Sunday night against the Cowboys. (But don’t worry, there’s going to be plenty of time to talk about the Giants-Cowboys game in Week 14 and what’s at stake in it.)
As for this week, here’s what we know going into the Giants-Packers game.
1. The Giants are 0-3 in the second half of the season. They are 24-35 in 59 second-half games in the Tom Coughlin era.
2. The following quarterbacks have thrown for 300 yards against the Giants this season: Rex Grossman, Sam Bradford, Charvaris Whiteson (a combination of the legendary Charlie Whitehurst and the great Tarvaris Jackson.)
3. The Giants have lost to Rex Grossman, Charvaris Whiteson, Alex Smith and Vince Young. (And Drew Brees, but it would be unethical to group Brees with those names or put him in the same sentence, so I’m protecting him with some parentheses, so he’s not exposed to that level of quarterback play.)
4. Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback on the planet. He hasn’t lost a game since the Sunday before Thanksgiving last year, and he has thrown 33 touchdown passes this season and just four interceptions in 362 pass attempts (or one interception for every 90.5 pass attempts). He is completing 71.8 percent of his passes, and his worst quarterback rating of the season is 111.4 in Week 3 against the Bears. What we have here is a recipe for disaster.
I have a terrible feeling about Sunday and why wouldn’t I? And why wouldn’t you after reading those four facts. But maybe it’s a good thing that I feel this way because I have had a great feeling about the last three Giants games, and they have all resulted in losses. Maybe this is a reverse jinx of some sort, or maybe it’s just me in denial that another second-half collapse is going to occur under Tom Coughlin.
The Giants are a better road team than they are home team, and as crazy as it sounds, if this game were being played at Lambeau Field I would feel at least somewhat confident. But at MetLife Stadium with a banged-up defense that’s now more banged? If you have a pretty nice little Sunday planned like a trip to Home Depot to buy some wallpaper or get some flooring, or maybe a visit to Bed, Bath and Beyond, but you’re trying to get out of it to watch the Giants game, well don’t. You more than likely will have more fun having your Sunday wasted at home improvement stores than you will watching FOX starting at 4:15.
Week 13 … let’s go!
(Home team in caps)
SEATTLE +3 over Philadelphia
Prior to the season, the NFL Network had a Thursday game on the first night in December featuring two playoffs from the previous year and two potential playoffs team for this year. Now they have two 4-7 teams just playing out the schedule and looking ahead to 2012. And on top of that I saw the following on the ESPN ticker on Wednesday: Michael Vick (Out), Jeremy Maclin (Out), Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Out), LeSean McCoy (Out), Nnamdi Asomugha (Out). So, yeah, it should be a good one in Seattle!
Tennessee +2.5 over BUFFALO
The Texans have paved the way for the Titans to make the playoffs. All the Titans have to do is remove the two cones and the yellow “Driveway Doctor” tape and take advantage of the Texans’ awful injury situation.
CHICAGO -7 over Kansas City
Caleb Hanie had another week to learn the rules of football after he forced the clock to run out against the Raiders rather than attempt a Hail Mary. Sure, the chances were close to none that the Bears would score on the play, or that Hanie would even get a pass off or reach the end zone, but still, how do you not know that you can’t fake a pass attempt and then spike the ball?
The problem with picking against the Chiefs here is that I love Tyler Palko. How can you not? The guy throws left-handed lasers and has the type of flow that should be tucked away underneath a Bauer or CCM helmet. Just over two years ago the California Redwoods of the United Football League cut him. Now he has started in prime time on Monday Night Football and Sunday Night Football in back-to-back weeks. Sure, he has thrown three interceptions in each of those games, but hey, no one’s perfect.
Oakland +3 over MIAMI
I like this Raiders team for some reason. I really have no idea why. And the Dolphins and I aren’t exactly on speaking terms after Shayne Graham’s miss and Matt Moore’s three-and-out with a chance to end the game on Thanksgiving against the Cowboys.
Denver +1 over MINNESOTA
In Tom Brady’s reaction to Plaxico Burress’ Super Bowl XLII prediction voice: “Tim Tebow’s getting one point?!?! Haha, OK. Is Vegas playing defense?”
Cincinnati +6.5 over PITTSBURGH
A few crazy things with this game.
1. These two teams played just three weeks ago in Cincinnati and the Steelers won 24-17.
2. Tyler Palko had the ball in his hands with a chance to go down the field and upset the Steelers in Kansas City on Monday Night Football with the world backing the Steelers and their 10.5-point line. But of course he did what he does best and threw a pick to seal the win for the Steelers and we were deprived of an epic win for the Chiefs.
3. The Bengals needed a FG with 38 seconds left to beat the Browns at home, and going by our “If The Regular Season Ended Today” playoff picture, the Bengals have beaten zero teams in that picture, but somehow they have seven wins in 11 games.
New York Jets -3 over WASHINGTON
The Redskins aren’t easy to beat in Washington. They are 2-3 at home, but in their three losses they have lost by 2, 7 and 3, and the three-point loss was an overtime loss against the Cowboys in Week 11.
This game has upset written all over it. Jets fans are feeling confident after the team’s late win over the Bills, and are looking ahead on the schedule and trying to figure out how the Jets can pick up four or five more wins to reach the postseason. And it’s this looking ahead that has a lot of people picking the Redskins to beat the Jets. But not me.
The Jets are going to win this game because the Jets for the last two years have found ways to win must-win regular season games (and now maybe three years since they won last week). Sure, they don’t know how to finish the deal in the playoffs and get to the Super Bowl, but when it comes to the regular season, the Jets always find a way (and once again when I say always I mean since 2009).
Atlanta -3 over HOUSTON
Last week I explained why the Texans wouldn’t cover five points in Jacksonville because of Matt Leinart and what he has not accomplished since coming into the league. Well, the Texans won with Matt Leinart in the lineup. Now Matt Leinart is done for the season along with Matt Schaub, and it caused the headline of the week around the NFL with “Texans Trying Out Jeff Garcia and Jake Delhomme.”
The Texans signed Jake Delhomme, which sets up a very interesting scenario. The Texans are most likely going to the playoffs, and if they don’t this year, they might never. If the Texans reach the postseason (like I think they will), it will be their first playoff appearance ever, and Delhomme will likely be starting the first postseason game in Texans history. If you’re a Texans fan, I don’t even know how you are going to handle that and I have no idea what sort of advice I could give to comfort you at this point.
In Delhomme’s last postseason game on Jan. 10, 2009, he threw five interceptions. Five! It was a home game for the Panthers, and they were coming off a bye, and they were 10-point favorites over the Cardinals.
In Week 9, I said the following.
“I think the Texans are going to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history this year. I just think they are going to make their fans go through a few bottles of whiskey each week doing it.”
I think the city of Houston might be out of whiskey at this point, and it might be time for them to move on to vodka if they haven’t already.
Carolina +3 over TAMPA BAY
I was originally going to take Tampa Bay here, but then I remember that Tampa Bay has done absolutely nothing for me this entire year and Carolina has.
NEW ENGLAND -20.5 over Indianapolis
Everyone is going to take the Patriots this week. How can you not? Their last three wins have been by 18, 31 and 21 points and two of those games were on the road and none of those games were against the 0-11 Colts.
The Colts are NOT going to win a game. Not one. Maybe they were going to be bad this year with or without Peyton Manning, but they weren’t going to be this bad. And with a Schaub-less Texans team and a hard-to-read-because-they-deceivingly-suck Titans team, the Colts would have been back in the playoffs with Peyton. Without him they are going to get Andrew Luck. The Colts are on the green for Luck and like Chubbs told Happy, “All they have to do is just tap it in. Just tap it in.”
Baltimore -6.5 over CLEVELAND
The Browns have played six games against teams with winnings records (Cincinnati twice, Tennessee, Oakland, San Francisco and Houston). They have lost all six. The Ravens might be the best team in the AFC, and they are going to get a first-round bye in the playoffs, mainly because they get to play the Browns twice in their final five games.
SAN FRANCISCO -13.5 over St. Louis
No one, and I mean no one goes into Alex Smith’s house and pushes him around. (Except for that time Tony Romo and the Cowboys erased a 10-point deficit with 6:55 left and then won in overtime in Week 2. But aside from that time, no one goes into Alex Smith’s house and pushes him around!)
The 49ers are good. Well, they are good enough to be 9-2 and earn a first-round bye thanks to six games against the NFC West even if they will probably lose in the divisional round of the playoffs, but that’s a story for another day and a few weeks from now.
The Rams aren’t. For some reason I keep picking them, but I think that has to do with their last four games being against Arizona, Cleveland, Seattle and Arizona again. Maybe if the Rams can lose out and finish at 2-14 then Steve Spagnuolo will no longer be their coach and he can come back and be the Giants defensive coordinator. I can dream, right?
Dallas -4.5 over ARIZONA
This might be my favorite line of the week, but I still think there is a chance that the Cowboys could lose in Arizona. But they probably won’t because that would help out the Giants, and no one is helping out the Giants this year.
Green Bay -7.5 over NEW YORK GIANTS
Is this real life? No, seriously, is this real life? If I didn’t love the New York Giants as much as I do, I would be hammering the Packers at -7.5
The only chance the Giants have of making the playoffs is running the table on their last four games of the season and sweeping the Cowboys twice. Without that there will be cardboard boxes waiting for Tom Coughlin and his staff at MetLife Stadium after Week 17.
NEW ORLEANS -9 over Detroit
The Lions defense isn’t as bad as the Giants defense, but after watching the show the Saints put on at home on Monday night, I would feel safer taking snaps behind the Giants offensive line with no helmet on than I would picking against the Saints in the Superdome right now.
San Diego -3 over JACKSONVILLE
“The Chargers were 4-1 coming out of their bye week and have lost six straight. The Jaguars are 3-8 and their rookie quarterback has thrown for 139 yards or less in six of nine games. Is it Monday yet?”
Unfortunately, that’s not a real promo running for ESPN right now. Maybe they are trying to hide the fact that the combined record of the two teams they are featuring this week is 7-15. But don’t worry, America, there’s a great matchup the following Monday…
“The Rams have 10 losses and their third-year coach might want to start posting his resume on employment sites. The Seahawks … well, they’re the Seahawks. Is it Monday yet?
There’s nothing quite like an NFC West matchup in Week 14 in prime time.
Last Week: 7-9-0
Follow Neil on Twitter @NeilKeefe