Tom Coughlin is about as old-school as NFL coaches get these days. Will he push the New York Giants past the football odds in Friday's matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals?
The New York Giants were undefeated last year. And then the regular season started. Things went downhill pretty quickly after that, but in August, the Giants went 5-0 SU and 4-0-1 ATS. That leaves head coach Tom Coughlin with a lifetime preseason record of 40-33-1 ATS. He does seem to take these games more seriously than other coaches.
Is Marvin Lewis one of those coaches? He's been at the helm of the Cincinnati Bengals since 2003, and the Bengals have slightly outperformed the market at 25-22-1 ATS during exhibition play. We'll see these two teams clash Friday night (7:30 p.m. ET) at Paul Brown Stadium; as we go to press, Cincinnati is a 3-point home chalk – typical for Week 1 of the preseason.
Coughlin may have driven his team a little harder last August after the G-Men went 7-9 SU and ATS in 2013. He definitely wanted to get New York's running game back on track after it finished No. 30 in the league in efficiency, and Coughlin was somewhat successful, pushing the Giants up to No. 23. There should be even more growth in that department with the arrival of RB Shane Vereen from the Super Bowl-champion New England Patriots.
Coughlin already has his team dialed up for Friday's contest. Training camp has been getting pretty intense in East Rutherford; there have been three fights thus far, and it wouldn't surprise anyone if the Giants and Bengals mixed it up a bit during their mid-week joint practices. But our focus is on back-up QB Ryan Nassib, who played well enough last August to take Curtis Painter's job. Nassib won't get many opportunities to make a statement during the regular season, unless Eli Manning gets hurt, so Friday is his chance to shine.
The Bengals ended up at 2-2 SU and 2-1-1 ATS during the 2014 preseason, although they didn't start winning until Week 3. This has been a relatively stable franchise over the past four years under QB Andy Dalton, with four straight trips to the postseason. One key difference for Friday: Dalton's new back-ups are AJ McCarron and Josh Johnson, and this is McCarron's first crack at preseason action after starting his rookie campaign on the reserve/non-football injury list.
We'll see if that competition lights a fire under the Bengals. They're 5-7 ATS in Week 1 of the preseason under Lewis, while the Giants are 7-3-1 ATS since Coughlin took over in 2004. That's encouraging enough for us to put Big Blue in our NFL picks; we could also go with the OVER, which is 46-32 for Coughlin in exhibition play and 25-23 for Lewis. But in this case, we're comfortable enough with the Giants given their situation and their needs this Friday.
Free NFL Pick: Take the Giants +3 (–103) at Matchbook