The Giants lost a shootout to the Saints while the Bucs shocked the Falcons last week. Let’s see what the NFL odds makers are hanging for a line & find the sharp side to cash in our NFL picks.
New York Giants (4-4 SU, 4-3-1 ATS)
Depending upon where you shop, the line you got if you backed the Giants in your NFL picks last week against the Saints would determine whether you pushed or cashed. The Giants could be had at +3 ½ (minus about 20-30 cents juice) at some shops or you could have merely bought half a point for about the same amount but by doing so it would have turned a push into a winner. It was a scoreboard flipper to be sure as Big Blue took to the highway and had a good old fashioned shootout down on the Bayou but came up on the losing end of a 52-49 decision.
Eli Manning was 30-41 for 350 passing yards and six TD’s and it still wasn’t good enough! Unfortunately for Giants’ fans Drew Brees posted ridiculous numbers going 39-of-50 for 505 yards passing and seven touchdowns. But it all boiled down to a 50-yard field goal off the foot of New Orleans kicker Kai Forbath that split the uprights and sent the Giants home with their fourth loss of the season. New York will have to shake this one off as they travel south to meet Tampa Bay.
Tampa Bay Bucs (3-4 SU, 4-3 ATS)
The Bucs pulled off the biggest upset certainly of Week 8 and perhaps the entire season when they swaggered into Atlanta and derailed the Falcons 23-20 in overtime. The team is young, raw and prone to error which is why the Bucs allowed the Falcons to cut their 17 point lead into a 20-20 tie. However they showed grit and determination by fending off the rally with an overtime game winning field goal courtesy of Connor Barth. The defense then remained stout and shutdown the Falcons’ final offensive gasp.
The biggest difference between the Bucs and the Falcons was turnovers. The Falcons Matt Ryan was picked off once and the team fumbled three times which turned the tide of the game. Conversely the Bucs neither fumbled nor was Jameis Winston picked off. The rookie quarterback had a competent though unspectacular day on 16-of-29 passing for 177 yards and a touchdown to Cameron Brate. Right now what they need from Winston is exactly what he provided on Sunday, moving the ball without forcing the issue and making mistakes.
There is no doubt Winston can scramble but the Bucs have seen what happens to run-first quarterbacks who come into the league and get drilled game after game. In college those talented athletes can avoid the hits but in the NFL running the ball comes with some serious repercussions. Winston is learning and the though the verdict is still out he looks to be making more mature decisions on the gridiron. The Bucs are hoping he makes those same decisions off the field.
The Bucs run the ball better than the Giants but New York is better on just about every other level. Yes, New York will have to travel to the humid climes of Tampa Bay but this is a team that can explode and I don’t believe the Bucs have the kind of defense, allowing 28.4 points per game (28th), that can contain Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., et al. The Bucs have a middling ranked pass defense while the Giants possess statistically the worst pass defense in the league. But do you fear Jameis Winston tearing it up? I don’t but I could envision Eli going to work and shredding the Bucs with short outs and stretching the field with Beckham.
Here are a few stats to support my backing of New York in this spot:
The Giants are 4-1 ATS in their last five games following an ATS loss.
The Giants are 5-1 ATS in their last six games after allowing more than 350 total yards in their previous game.
The Giants are 4-1-1 ATS in their last six road games.
The Buccaneers are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games following a straight up win.
The Buccaneers are 7-23-1 ATS in their last 31 games as a home underdog.
The NFL odds makers have installed the Giants as a 2 ½ road favorite in this one. The Bucs are coming off their biggest win of the season which usually means a letdown the following week. The Giants are an experienced and dangerous club that can exploit the passing mismatch here. I am not fond of laying points on the road but when it is under a field goal, I feel much better about the prospect.
NFL Pick: Play the Giants -2 ½ at GTBets