NFL Picks: Giants vs. Panthers in Week 3

Jason Lake

Friday, September 20, 2013 6:09 PM GMT

The New York Giants and Carolina Panthers have each started the season 0-2 SU and ATS. The football betting world has been more forgiving toward the G-Men leading up to the weekend rush.

Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013, up to September 19 inclusive:

6-3-1 ATS

1-1 ML (+0.71 units)

0-3 Totals

It ain’t easy being a head coach in the NFL. There are only 32 jobs to go around at the highest level of football in the world – yes, even higher than the SEC. Chumps do not get hired for these positions. But not everyone can be Bill Belichick. The lesser geniuses among the 32 head coaches are going to get exploited week after week, until they either learn better or get fired.

There was a time when New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin was on the hot seat. He made it through wilderness and won two Super Bowls, so that worked out pretty well. Carolina Panthers supporters can only pray for error-prone Ron Rivera to follow the same path. What few supporters the Panthers have, that is. Our consensus reports show 72 percent of the NFL betting public – putting 90 percent of the money – on the Giants at +1 as they visit Bank of America Stadium this Sunday (1:00 p.m., FOX).

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Da Doo Ron Ron

Rivera’s got the bona fides for the job. He’s a former All-American linebacker out of the California Golden Bears program (albeit during those dark years under Joe Kapp) who played nine seasons with the Chicago Bears, earning a Super Bowl XX ring and cracking the starting lineup from 1988 to 1990. Rivera then worked three years as a TV analyst before beginning his climb up the coaching food chain in 1997, as a “Defensive Quality Control Coach” for Chicago. 

After five seasons working as a linebackers coach for the San Diego Chargers, Rivera returned to Chicago in 2004 as defensive co-ordinator. It’s hard to imagine now, but the Bears were not very efficient on defense at the tail end of Greg Blache’s tenure; they improved from No. 16 overall in 2003 to No. 9 in Rivera’s first season, and all the way to No. 1 in 2005. One year later, the Bears were back in the Super Bowl, even though Rex Grossman was their quarterback. Rivera was now being whispered as a potential head coach.

For Your Consideration

After failing to grab the brass ring the first time around, Rivera went back to the Chargers and started again, ascending from linebackers coach to defensive co-ordinator in 2008. By 2010, San Diego’s defense was up to No. 7 in efficiency, and in 2011, Rivera finally got that coveted head coaching position in Carolina, making him the fourth Latino head coach in NFL history. Roll credits, cue the inspirational music, send out the Oscar packages.

Alas, the cameras kept rolling as they always do, and the Panthers defense plummeted to the bottom of the league in overall efficiency after Rivera took over. However, 2011 was a rebuilding year for the entire Panthers program, and in 2012, the ‘Cats came back to finish No. 11 in defense. With a promising offense led by QB Cam Newton, things were looking pretty good for 2013.

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Eff Your Coach

Except for one problem: Rivera isn’t doing a very good job handling his new responsibilities, particularly clock management and team discipline. Generally speaking, Rivera is too conservative with his strategies, something that will earn you plenty of grief in this day and age of advanced football analysis. 

It’ll also turn a lot of close wins into close losses. Carolina is 0-5 SU and 3-2 ATS in games decided by one, two or three points since Rivera took over. That includes their Week 2 loss to the Buffalo Bills, where Rivera’s play-calling gave Buffalo (+3.5 at home) just enough of a window to score the game-winning touchdown in the dying seconds. Final score: Bills 24, Panthers 23. 

Carolina isn’t an instant fade just because of Rivera, as that 3-2 ATS record illustrates. But take those mistakes, combine them with a growing lack of confidence from his players, throw in a ton of injuries, especially to the secondary, and things look rather grim this week with the G-Men coming to town. 

NFL Pick: Take the Giants +1.5 at Marathon
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