I just saw this question on Twitter, and it really got me thinking. You spend so much time rooting against the players on your rival teams that you never really consider, what if they were playing for my team instead? As a die-hard Yankee fan, my most hated rival team is clearly the Red Sox. I saw another Yankee fan answer this with Pedro Martinez, or perhaps Mookie Betts. For me, the answer is clear. I would have wanted David Ortiz on my team 100%.
As a Yankee fan, I absolutely hate the guy. There has never been a bigger Yankee killer than David Ortiz. The Red Sox’ 2004 ALCS comeback doesn’t even start without his heroics in Games 4 and 5. So as much as I hate him for that, as well as the fact that everyone lets him off the hook for being named in the Mitchell Report, the guy was a damn good hitter. In my mind, he’s the most clutch hitter of all-time, or at the very least of my generation. If you don’t think he could’ve helped the Yankees win more than just the one title they won during his career (2009), you’re insane.
As for my other teams’ rivals, here are my “Honorable Mention” picks behind Ortiz:
Giants: Sean Taylor (Redskins); absolute savage, Rest in Peace.
Knicks: Kevin Garnett (Celtics); I guess they were kind of rivals for that like season and a half stretch where the Knicks were pretty good?
Rangers: Martin Brodeur (Devils); Why wouldn’t you want the best goalie of all time on your team?
UNC Basketball: Zion Williamson (Duke); I don’t care if he’s only played two games, watch this kid play for 30 seconds and you’ll understand why I picked him.
Rutgers Football: Our only rival is our coaching staff’s ability to recruit.
What about you? If you could have picked a rival player to put on your team’s jersey, who would it be?
…including another classic Saints-Vikings playoff game. That was arguably one of the most unbelievable plays we have ever seen. The Vikings still needed a lot of yards for a field goal, and they could not throw it over the middle as they were out of timeouts. If Marcus Williams contains Stefon Diggs and forces him out of bounds, the Vikings would have had to attempt a long field goal. However, if Williams had connected with Diggs, he would have went to the ground and I would be writing about how the Saints are going to beat the Eagles on Sunday.
The Saturday games were not as great, but at least we got an exciting finish to the Falcons-Eagles game. The Falcons come up short once again in heartbreaking fashion as the Eagles were able to grab an ugly win. The Patriots were the Patriots, and that’s the only thing to say about that one. And what an unbelievable early Sunday game, with the Steelers already focused on avenging the Patriots, only to give up 45 points at home to Blake Bortles and the Jaguars.
The picks were tough once again, and it’s clear that a couple bounces and plays decided who’d win the spread in these ones. I went 2-2 straight up, and 1-2-1 against the spread. Here’s a look back at the picks I made (winning team in red, spread winner in red):
Falcons (-2.5) at Eagles
My Pick: Falcons 23, Eagles 13
Eagles 15, Falcons 10- Although I was wrong here, what I’ve been essentially saying for much of the season is that the Falcons are frauds. Some weeks (such as vs. Rams) they show last season’s potential and look great on both sides of the ball. Other weeks, their offense cannot get anything going and they look like a below average team, this week losing to Nick Foles. Much credit to the Eagles defense, however. The Eagles rode the underdog at home mentality to get the upset win.
Titans (+13.5) at Patriots
My Pick: Patriots 31, Titans 20
Patriots 35, Titans 14- When the Titans went up 7-0 early, I didn’t think they would win, but I thought this pick looked safe and they were going to battle against the Patriots. Then, the Patriots went back to being the Patriots, bullying less superior teams at home in the playoffs, and covering as well. A win on Sunday will send Tom Brady to his 8th Super Bowl.
Jaguars (+7) at Steelers
My Pick: Steelers 21, Jaguars 17
Jaguars 45, Steelers 42- This game lost a lot of attention after how the later game ended, but what an unbelievable performance by the Jacksonville Jaguars, and unbelievable game overall as well. If you were to say the Steelers were going to put up 42 points on the best defense in the NFL, then I would have bet my entire college tuition on the Steelers winning and covering. Blake Bortles, Leonard Fournette, and the rest of the Jags offense had the game of their lives to win in Pittsburgh for the second time this season. The Jaguars did not appreciate that the Steelers were already thinking about the Patriots, and hopefully they can do the same in New England this weekend.
Saints (+5) at Vikings
My Pick: Vikings 24, Saints 21
Vikings 29, Saints 24- You all have heard every analysis possible about the last play of the game went down, so I’m going to focus on how the last play effected the spread. Had the Vikings not scored, I would have nailed the spread but not the winner. Had Stefon Diggs been forced out and Kai Forbath made a winning kick, I would have nailed the spread and cover. But after the TD, things got even more confusing as the PAT was delayed for several minutes. Had the Vikings kicked, I would have had a horrific beat losing the spread but picking Vikings correctly. However, the Vikings made the class decision to take a knee, which lead to me pushing, and impacting many other gamblers who had the spread at either 5 or 5.5. What an ending.
2017 Playoffs Straight-Up: 4-4, 2017 Playoffs Vs. Spread: 2-5-1
Time for the second best Sunday of the year, Championship Sunday.
Jaguars (+7.5) at Patriots
Patriots 27, Jaguars 23
Listen, I don’t think the football Gods could ever allow Blake Bortles to win at Tom Brady’s house with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. Year in and year out, the Pats have crushed inexperienced teams and QBs at home in the playoffs. However, the Jags don’t need to rely on Bortles, and the rest of this team does not play like an inexperienced team. While Pittsburgh is not New England, the Jaguars went in and put up 45 points at one of the toughest venues to win a road playoff game. I think the Jaguars defense plays a lot better this week, Fournette has another big game, and Bortles does enough. This spread has decreased from 9 to 7.5, so I like the Jaguars to go in and cover. However, this Patriots team is too good. They may not have the explosiveness to put up as many points as the Steelers did, but their offense is still ran incredibly well and their defense should be able to do their job against an iffy Jacksonville offense. I have the Patriots winning a close game to go on to another Super Bowl.
2015 Jaguars-Patriots matchup, the last time these teams met.
These teams last met in the playoffs in the 2007 Divisional Round, with the Patriots winning to keep their undefeated season alive (just had really bad memories after typing that).
Vikings (-3) at Eagles
Vikings 20, Eagles 13
Don’t doubt the Eagles. They have had a great season, and just about every player who has contributed to this season will be playing, obviously except for the most important player. So especially on the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles are as hungry as ever. So while I learned that the Eagles shouldn’t be doubted last week, I also learned that the Falcons are frauds. And you know what else I learned last week? The Vikings are not. Obviously the last play was a bit of a fluke, but the Vikings overall played a great game last week despite the Saints second half comeback. Last week’s big moment made it feel like this team is destined to be the first team to host the Super Bowl and play in it. The Eagles defense could definitely give Case Keenum problems in their own building, so I see this being a low scoring game. However, the Vikings defense is much better than the Falcons’, and I see them shutting down Nick Foles for the majority of the day. The Vikings will win a one score game to advance back home for the Super Bowl.
2016 Vikings-Eagles matchup, the last time these teams met (two different starting QBs).
These teams last met in the playoffs in the 2004 Divisional Round, with the Eagles winning en route to facing the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX (will history repeat itself?).
Let’s hope we’ll be talking about a Vikings-Jaguars Super Bowl for the next two weeks. Be back in two weeks for my Super Bowl prediction as well as numerous prop bets which you can lose all your money on. Can either of these games be great enough to stack up to the all time greats?
Just like the game I went to in Dallas, we had a close game at the half…
…but this time, it was the Cowboys who pulled away in the second half. After a pretty boring game through the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Cowboys exploded for 3 TDs and 2 INTs of Eli “That’s my Quarterback” Manning. I won’t go into crazy detail on this, but I think that the Cowboys have a greater chance to make the playoffs than the less than 10% chance they are being given. We all know there will likely be an upset along the way, but if favorites win every game involving these NFC teams in the hunt, except one of the Falcons games (Week 15 at Bucs or Week 17 vs. Panthers), the Cowboys will end up as the 6th seed. The Cowboys will be favored the next two weeks, and if the Eagles win their next two (which they are favored to do), they won’t be playing for anything Week 17, and the Cowboys could therefore be favored in that one as well (I just convinced myself the Cowboys are going to the Super Bowl).
As for the picks in Week 14, let’s just say it was like the NBA- a game of runs. After an amazing start which saw me at 8-1 against the spread and 7-2 straight up after the early games, the late games absolutely killed me. I ended up with a winning record, but things could have gone so much better. I went 9-7 both straight up, and against the spread. Here’s a look back at the picks I made (winning team in red, spread winner in red):
Saints at Falcons (-2.5)
Cowboys (-4) at Giants
Colts at Bills (-4)
Vikings at Panthers (+2.5)
Bears (+6.5) at Bengals
Bears 33, Bengals 7- Well, I was right about the Bengals being banged up, but I could have never imagined it being that bad. The Bears put together as complete of a performance as it gets, and the Bengals clearly played their Super Bowl 6 days earlier.
Packers (-3) at Browns
49ers at Texans (-3)
49ers 26, Texans 16- Has the next Joe Montana arrived in San Fran? What a great performance by Jimmy G to lead the Niners to their second straight win in his second start.
Raiders at Chiefs (-4)
Lions (-2.5) at Buccaneers
Titans (-3) at Cardinals
Cardinals 12, Titans 7- Talk about a shitty game. The Titans still have a great shot to make the playoffs, but they are clearly no threat whatsoever.
Jets (-1) at Broncos
Broncos 23, Jets 0- Josh McCown getting hurt helped, but where has this Denver team been for the last 8 weeks? The Jets now have an opportunity to lose out and get a better draft pick after their surprisingly okay season.
Redskins (+6) at Chargers
Chargers 30, Redskins 13- The Redskins looked like the Redskins of the previous week, and the Chargers returned to their form from Thanksgiving in Dallas.
Seahawks (+2.5) at Jaguars
Jaguars 30, Seahawks 24- Even week Jags, WTF? I was so sure Seattle would win this one, but Jacksonville came to play and the Seahawks comeback effort was too late. I have no problems with the Seahawks on offense and I like Russell Wilson a lot, but (sorry Bert) the Seahawks defense continues to be a bunch of sore losers, especially one of the two people I hate in the NFL more than anyone, Michael Bennett (you can probably guess who the other is, hint: same last name). However, I loved that we nearly had a Malice at the Palace 2.0.
Eagles at Rams (-2.5)
Eagles 43, Rams 35- What an amazing game and performance by the Eagles. Even though the Rams lost, the Eagles are the ones keeping their heads down after this one. Can Nick Foles have another magical run as Eagles backup QB?
Ravens (+5) at Steelers
Patriots (-11.5) at Dolphins
Dolphins 27, Patriots 20- Games like these commonly happen when a team is shorthanded on the road. Just not usually for the Patriots. The Dolphins had their best performance of the season by far, and the exact opposite can be said about the Pats. Special shoutout to anyone who had Over 48, as the Pats had 1st and Goal at the 1, and ended up settling for a field goal, pushing the total to 47.
2017 Straight-Up: 136-72, 2017 Vs. Spread: 104-98-6
It’s hard to believe it’s already Week 15.
Broncos at Colts (+2.5)
Based on last week, the Broncos should easily win this one. But that Broncos team had not been seen since Week 2, and they have yet to win on the road this year. The Broncos will return to their losing ways, the Colts will get the upset win at home on Thursday night.
Bears (+5.5) at Lions
The Bears looked extremely sharp last week, and I like that train to keep rolling this weekend in Detroit. However, the Lions have more to play for here, and they are the home team. I think the Lions edge out a close win, but the Bears cover.
Chargers at Chiefs (+1)
If this game were to have been played last week, I probably would have taken the Chargers. Not to base too much off last week, but the Chiefs looked good, and we know what they are capable of. Now as a home underdog, I think the Chiefs get the home win over the Chargers.
Dolphins at Bills
Note: This spread has not been announced yet due to the Bills QB situation. I will choose this game once the starter is announced, and reveal what my pick was next week.
Packers at Panthers (-3)
R-E-L-A-X Packers fans, #12 is back. The Packers are capable of beating anyone with Aaron Rodgers, but in order to make the playoffs, they will need to win out in 3 tough games. And I don’t think they get in done in this one. The Panthers are coming off a great win over the hottest team in the NFC, and I think they keep cruising towards the playoffs with a home win in Rodgers’ first game back.
Ravens at Browns (+7)
The Ravens played great last week, but it has to hurt to do all of that in a losing effort. The Browns are coming off what should have been their first win, and they know this could be their last chance in their last home game. The Browns will do enough to cover, but the Ravens will get the win.
Texans at Jaguars (-10.5)
If the even week Jags can get a win, I don’t think the Texans can come close to competing with the odd week Jags. The Jaguars will keep this train rolling into the postseason and crush the Texans at home.
Bengals at Vikings (-10.5)
Another big spread, but another game in which I like the favorite to cover. The Bengals looked decimated last week, and I think the same happens this week. The Vikings will get back to their winning ways and easily win at home over the Bengals, and cover as well.
Jets at Saints (-15)
Big spreads? No problem. The Jets QB situation is horrific now without Josh McCown, and now I think they will look like the team everyone expected them to be coming into the season. The Saints will win big at home over the Jets.
Eagles (-7.5) at Giants
The Eagles have one of the best backup QB situations in the league in Nick Foles, someone who has succeed in that role before for the same team. However, I think this game will be close and low scoring at the half just like the Cowboys game against the Giants. However, just like the Cowboys, the Eagles will pull away late to win and cover.
Cardinals at Redskins (-4)
If you were to ask someone who was having a better season of these two teams, they would probably say the Redskins. The Cardinals are not making the playoffs, but they are very low key 6-7, one game ahead of the 5-8 ‘Skins. The Cardinals have been playing better of late, and I think it will be a close one. However, the Redskins will score late to get the win and cover at home.
Rams at Seahawks (-2)
The up and coming Rams get their first test on the road against the previous Alphas of the NFC West. While I think the Rams end up winning the division, I’m taking the Seahawks at home in this one. The Seahawks looked great defending their home turf when the Eagles came to town two weeks ago, and the Rams are coming off of a tough loss to those same Eagles. Wilson and the Seahawks will survive in this one.
Patriots at Steelers (+3)
After watching the Steelers on prime time the last 3 weeks, I’m starting to feel that they are a team of destiny this year. Losing on the road to the lowly Dolphins may just be the pre-playoffs wake up call that the Pats needed, but I’m sticking with the Steelers in this one. I could see the Pats winning, but I cannot believe they are 3 point favorites on the road against a team with a better record. I’m going with the home ‘dog Steelers in this one.
Titans at 49ers (-2)
The Niners are hot, and the Titans are not. Jimmy G has lead the Niners to back to back wins on the road, and now he returns to SF for his first home start. I think he succeeds and the Titans come out flat on the West Coast again, and the Niners get the win and cover at home.
Cowboys (-3) at Raiders
Super Bowl LII five weeks early? It does not look like that will be happening. However, this is a big game for both teams. And with the Cowboys knowing Zeke will be back next week, I think they go in knowing they have to win this game. Their defense looked significantly better with their MVP Sean Lee back in the lineup to make 18 (EIGHTEEN!) tackles, as well as an interception. I think this will be a close one, but the Boys will edge it out on Sunday night to keep their hopes alive.
Falcons (-6.5) at Buccaneers
The Falcons have been playing competitive football at the right time as they hope another playoff run is near. And it think that will show on Monday night. The home team Bucs will keep it close, but the Falcons will pull away late to win and cover.
That’s it for this week, be back for Week 16. Can Chris Boswell hit a winning field goal for a FIFTH straight week?
After a November full of favorites winning, there were plenty of underdogs who won to start December…
…including my Cowboys, who I picked against.
I’ll be in attendance in the Meadowlands this weekend to see the Boys take on Eli’s team. Hopefully Eli Manning Day in Meadowlands before the game will remind fans why they have been hating on him for years by the end of the game.
To further comment on all of those upsets, I also saw a suffer in wins this in Week 13. While I still put up a solid 11-5 straight up, I went just 7-9 against the spread. Here’s a look back at the picks I made (winning team in red, spread winner in red):
Redskins (-1.5) at Cowboys
Cowboys 38, Redskins 14- After two weeks of feeling the Cowboys would play better after their poor performance the week before, I finally gave up on that. And then, they finally won. 10-6 is still not guaranteed to make the playoffs in the NFC, but if the Cowboys can get to full strength and win out to make it, that hypothetical hot streak would make them a dangerous team heading into the playoffs.
Vikings (+3) at Falcons
Lions (+3) at Ravens
Ravens 44, Lions 20- The Ravens have finally been able to put together consistent enough play to say that they are definitely a threat to go on a run to the playoffs. As for the Lions, they have completely fallen off after their impressive start to the season.
Patriots (-8.5) at Bills
49ers (+3) at Bears
Buccaneers (-1.5) at Packers
Packers 26, Buccaneers 20 (OT)- Are the Packers still a threat to make the playoffs? Almost everyone has written them off, but if they win week and Aaron Rodgers comes back, suddenly everything becomes a lot more interesting.
Colts at Jaguars (-9.5)
Broncos at Dolphins (+1.5)
Chiefs (-3.5) at Jets
Jets 38, Chiefs 31- I watched the majority of this, and what a game it was. The Chiefs had a chance to march down field and score a TD to win and cover, but a penalty on a Jets field goal led to a Jets TD, which led to one of the funniest things I have ever seen in a football game.
Texans (+6.5) at Titans
Titans 24, Texans 13- I would have nailed this spread and winner perfectly, had Derrick Henry not ran for a 75 yard touchdown on a play where the clock would have ran out had he been tackled.
Browns at Chargers (-14)
Chargers 19, Browns 10- The Browns came (somewhat) close to getting their 2nd win over the Chargers since the start of the 2016 season. They also came (somewhat) close to getting their second win overall since the start of the 2016 season.
Panthers at Saints (-4)
Rams (-7) at Cardinals
Giants at Raiders (-8.5)
Raiders 24, Giants 17- Geno Smith: 0-1 straight up as Giants QB, but 1-0 against the spread. Good teams win, great teams cover. Sign this man John Mara.
Eagles (-6) at Seahawks
Seahawks 24, Eagles 10- GOD DAMMIT PHILLY! The one time the Cowboys need you to win all season, you let them down. The hot stat around the league this week is how the only win the Eagles have over a team currently above .500 is the Panthers. I won’t diminish what the Eagles have done this season, but keep note of this ahead of their matchup with the Rams, as well as going into the playoffs.
Steelers (-5) at Bengals
Steelers 23, Bengals 20- No one is talking about the actual game this week, only the violence that this game produced. But to stick to sports, this game was a great example of the vulnerability of the Steelers (down 17-0) as well as the dangers (23-3 run to finish).
2017 Straight-Up: 127-65, 2017 Vs. Spread: 95-91-6
Let the first quarter of the fourth quarter of the NFL season begin.
Saints at Falcons (-2.5)
Huge matchup to start the week between the team leading the NFC South, and the team who was favored to be doing so coming into the season. While the Falcons took a step back last week, their defense found success against an improved Vikings offense. This matchup has been one over the years that has been won by the home team, especially when the visitor has been having the better year. I have the Falcons earning the win at home.
Cowboys (-4) at Giants
The Cowboys defense finally put together a great performance last week, holding the Redskins to 14 points and forcing four turnovers. Now, they get their defensive QB Sean Lee back. The Cowboys are definitely better with Zeke as to Alfred Morris, but the Cowboys are now as close to full strength as they will get without their star RB. Eli Manning day will only last so long as fans will be reminded “Oh wait, I forgot it’s not 2011 anymore”, and the Cowboys will win and cover in the Meadowlands.
Colts at Bills (-4)
After playing some okay football under Jacoby Brissett, the Colts have fallen off and have dropped 6 of 7. The Bills are clearly no threat in the AFC, but I like them to win and cover in this matchup. The Bills have been beaten up on inferior opponents at home this season, and the only win the Colts have on the road was in Houston in the Texans’ first game without DeShaun Watson. Bills Mafia will get this win on Sunday.
Vikings at Panthers (+2.5)
I think the Vikings are the better team here, but I like the Panthers to get the upset win at home to end the Vikings’ winning streak. Earning two straight road wins against good NFC teams is tough. The Vikings beat the Rams at home, then the Rams beat the Saints at home, and then the Saints beat the Panthers at home. Things will come full circle, and the Panthers will beat the Vikings in Charlotte.
Bears (+6.5) at Bengals
The Bengals are coming off a hard fought home performance against a good Steelers team. So while they played well, they got pretty banged up in the process. I think that this will show this week, and the Bears will keep it close and cover. However, the Bengals are the better team, and they will get the win at home.
Packers (-3) at Browns
The Packers have finally been playing some good football under Brett Hundley. They should have no problem beating the Browns, but Cleveland know that this may be their best chance to win in their four remaining games. The Browns will keep in close, but the Packers will win by less than a score, and enough to cover.
49ers at Texans (-3)
The 49ers got the win in Jimmy Garoppolo’s first start and he played well, but it is easy to forget that all 15 points came from the right foot of Robbie Gould. The Texans have played a little better of late under Tom Savage, winning at home before losing two close ones on the road. The Texans will return home and win by one score, and enough to cover.
Raiders at Chiefs (-4)
This game is very tough to pick, as the Chiefs have completely fallen apart, and while the Raiders have put together some wins, they have not exactly given anyone the feeling that they are a threat in the AFC. While it was their second loss, much of the Chiefs downfall began on that last second loss to the Raiders in October. I think they will get revenge this time winning at home. This one will be close, but I’ll give the Chiefs the cover as well.
Lions at Buccaneers
Note: This spread has not been announced yet due to the status of Matt Stafford. I will choose this game once his status is announced, and reveal what my pick was next week.
Titans (-3) at Cardinals
I think this game will be very similar to when the Jaguars went to Arizona a few weeks ago. Just like the Jaguar game, the Cardinals will play well at home against a better AFC South opponent. Except this time, they won’t get out to a 13-0 lead. The Cardinals will keep it close, but the Titans will ultimately win by less than a score, but enough to cover.
Jets (-1) at Broncos
Will the Broncos finally find their way this weekend? Nope! While I picked the Dolphins last week, I thought it would be a boring and low scoring game, not a blowout at the hands of the lowly Dolphins. The Broncos are hopeless on offense, and the Jets will continue their surprisingly good play and win in Denver.
Redskins (+6) at Chargers
The Redskins looked awful last week, but they will come into this one on extra rest. While the Chargers won yet again last week, they looked less dominant against the Browns than they have in past weeks. I think the Chargers win again, but the Redskins keep it close to cover, and lose it in a Redskins way.
Seahawks (+2.5) at Jaguars
Even week Jaguars, underdog Seahawks, and Seahawks coming off a great win. Do you see a trend here? Russell Wilson and the Seahawks will go into Jacksonville and take care of business yet again.
Eagles at Rams (-2.5)
I’m not completely buying into the Eagles wins being degraded due to the lack of wins over good teams, but I think the Eagles will come up short on the West Coast yet again this week. In the first matchup of Jared Goff vs. Carson Wentz, I think Goff shows why he was the No. 1 pick, and the Rams win and cover at home.
Ravens (+5) at Steelers
You can throw out the record books when these teams match up. The Ravens have put together a few good wins lately, and just like the Bengals, the Steelers are banged up and missing a few key players. I’m expecting a great game on Sunday night, with the Ravens covering, but the Steelers getting the win.
Patriots (-11.5) at Dolphins
A division leader traveling to a division rival while shorthanded is bad for almost any team. Except for the Patriots. Tom Brady and Co. thrive in the face of adversity, and I expect nothing different this weekend without Gronk. The Patriots will win and cover over the Dolphins for the second time in three weeks.
That’s it for this week, be back for Week 15. Can the Steelers edge out the Ravens once again?
When news broke on Tuesday, that Eli Manning would no longer be the Giants’ starting quarterback, I planned not to write a post about the matter. I figured that my lengthy Eli post from two weeks ago allowed me to say what I need to say (John Mayer). However, after the past four days, I need to make another post.
I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!!! Nearly every person I know or have heard is ready to tar and feather the Mara family, Jerry Reese, and Ben McAdoo for what has gone down this week with Eli. I, however, am fine with what the Giants have done. Hard-core football fans, casual football fans, Giants fans, Jets fans, Patriots fans, adults, children, Mike Francesa, Michael Kay, Don LaGreca, Bill Simmons, Bill Barnwell, friends of mine, family members of mine, current Giants, former Giants, and lastly Michael Rapaport are all mortified by the Giants’ handling this week of Eli Manning. Like when I told the world that I enjoyed Dumb and Dumber To, I am a man on an island, and that is ok with me.
That said, I am writing this post to express my shock at the level of outrage over the Giants’ decision. I had hoped for several weeks that the Giants would eventually move to see what they have in their other quarterbacks, but I did not think they would have the courage to do it. Eli Manning is likely the best human being in the NFL, and it takes a lot of courage to tell such a wonderful person that he has to ride the pine. I figured that, if McAdoo/Reese/Mara could find the courage to make the decision, most people would react similarly to my view of “I feel terrible for Eli. He has played his heart out as a Giant and has never missed a start. The team around him this year was bad. However, this is the right move for the future of the team.” Wow was I wrong!
Obviously, all Giants fans will forever look fondly upon Eli’s work in leading the Giants to two Super Bowl Championships. Much less obviously, apparently 99% of the world seems to look back fondly on his 32-43 regular-season record over the past five seasons and his 2-9 record this season.
Here are some common refrains I have heard this week and my rebuttals:
“How can you tarnish a man’s legacy like this?” I am sorry, but the 2-9 season and 4-of-5 seasons below .500 are tarnishing the legacy, not the benching. QBs who go 2-9 and 32-43 tend to get benched.
“Joe Montana, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, etc. (fill in the blank with any great QB here) never got treated like this.” Again, those quarterbacks never went had years this bad or five-year stretches this bad.
“But the team around Eli is terrible!!!” This is true, but Eli has made a bad situation worse, not better.
“But the Giants will be even worse without Eli at QB!” They are 2-9. Mathematically speaking, it is tough to get worse.
“How could they ask him to play just one half? That makes a mockery of the game.” Oh yeah, I am sure you would feel sooooooo much better if the Giants had just flat-out benched him without at least giving him this option.
“How could they go to Geno, not Webb?” True story, there were multiple games this season when I texted people that “Giants would be better using Geno right now”. I said this because a quarterback with at least some mobility would fare much better than Eli behind a porous offensive O-Line.
“But we saw Geno with the Jets, and he was terrible and a bad leader. He even got punched in the face, and nobody came to his defense.” First of all, he did have some great games as a Jet, including wins over the Patriots and Falcons. He was a second-round pick who has plenty of talent. Yes, he was immature…very immature. However, people can mature. Is it possible that getting clocked in the face and then spending three years backing up class acts like Eli and Ryan Fitzpatrick can make him a better person, leader, and player? I am not saying it is likely, but it could happen.
“If the Giants were gonna do this, how could they not have Webb ready?” This setup works just fine. If Geno does well, the Giants can roll with him. If he does badly, they can go to Webb. If either one of them ends up looking awesome, the Giants will feel less compelled to draft a quarterback in the first round. Drafting Saquon Barkley or an offensive lineman would not be a bad thing.
“If the Giants released him today, he would hardly last a second on the open market.” I disagree.
Anyway, among the many who have condemned the Giants this week, Bill Barnwell of ESPN is the only person who has an idea that would have made sense. He says the Giants should have announced that next week’s home game against Dallas would be Eli’s last start. That way, the Giants fans could have bid him farewell in a more respectable manner. I like the idea, but I would have done that in the Chiefs game, so that the Giants could have gotten 6 games to look at their young quarterbacks. However, I am not losing sleep that the Giants did not do this. The Giants will give Eli his due when they put him in the Ring of Honor as soon as his career ends.
Lastly, I have not generally been a big fan of Ben McAdoo. Some of that is because I did not love his play-calling as offensive coordinator. (Whereas I was one of the few who was fine with Kevin Gilbride) Some of that is because, when I look at his face, I cannot help but think of PC Principal. That said, McAdoo has shown me something positive this week. While everyone else is dumping on him, I praise him (and Reese and the Maras) for making a courageous decision.
I should add that I am not writing this post because I hate Eli. I simply have been down this block before. I have said goodbye to Martin Brodeur, Scott Stevens, and Mike Piazza. I am stuck in what seems to be a 4-year-long goodbye to David Wright. These things happen; it is inevitable. Eli, you have been a delight to watch on the field. Your humanitarian work is second to none. As Bill Simmons often discusses, I would love to have you marry my hypothetical daughter or hypothetical sister. In an era with many NFL scandals, you represent everything that is right with football. However, Giants fans, it is time to look to the future.
…and games are becoming unpredictable. This is both good and bad. It’s bad for betting and making picks, as the team who looked great or bad last week may have a complete reversal of fortune the following week(s). But it’s great because the NFL has become even more exciting to watch. This could be that year where two completely random teams end up meeting in the Super Bowl, it’s been that unpredictable. I knew going into last week nothing was going to be any different, as 9 of the 16 games had spreads that were 3.5 points or less. Anything can happen in those kinds of games, and that did not work well for me. Last week was my worst to date, and the craziness continued as I actually did better against the spread (7-9) than straight up (6-10). In addition, this week could not have ended any crazier for betting, as this play not only helped the Chiefs cover, but also pushed the game to cover the over.
Let’s just say thank God I had no wagers involved on this one. Here’s a look back at the picks I made (winning team in red, spread winner in red):
Bears at Packers (-7)
Saints at Dolphins (+3) (London)
Rams at Cowboys (-6.5)
Bills at Falcons (-8)
Bengals at Browns (+3)
Lions at Vikings (EVEN)
Panthers (+9) at Patriots
Jaguars (-3.5) at Jets
Steelers at Ravens (+3)
Titans at Texans (+1.5)
49ers (+7) at Cardinals
Eagles at Chargers (+1.5)
Giants (+3) at Buccaneers
Raiders at Broncos (-2.5)
Colts (+13) at Seahawks
Redskins (+7) at Chiefs
2017 Straight Up: 40-23, 2017 vs. Spread: 30-32-1
Onto the craziness of Week 5.
Patriots (-6) at Buccaneers
Honestly, I’m shocked this spread is this big based on how the Patriots have played, but I think they will cover it anyway. The Patriots last responded to a home loss with an easy road win against an NFC South opponent, so I think Brady and Co. will do the same this week. Even if they end up being not as good this year, is there anyone who does not think the Patriots will at the very least win the AFC East?
Bills at Bengals (-3)
The Bills have had a great start to the season, and are coming off a very impressive road win against a Falcons team that is definitely better than the Bengals. However, the Bengals have found their stride the last two games, and this is their first home game since. I expect that this time the Bills will not have as much success on the road, and the Bengals will win and cover.
Jets (+1) at Browns
Through two weeks, it looked as if the Browns would be a much more competitive team this year. However, they could not have taken a larger downfall than they have the last two weeks. The exact opposite can be said about the Jets, who are now 2-2. Myles Garrett may be making his debut, but I like the Jets to continue this little streak and get the upset win in Cleveland.
Panthers at Lions (-2.5)
Outside of the Rams, the Lions have had the most surprising and impressive start to this season, and they were a yard away from still being undefeated. The Panthers had a very impressive win last week at New England, but their season has been up and down so far. I like the Lions to continue to dominate this season, winning and covering at home.
49ers at Colts (-1.5)
The Colts have looked much better offensively since naming Jacoby Brissett their starting QB. The 49ers have lost each of their last 3 games by 3 points or less, but every week, their opponent is just slightly better. I think the same trend will continue this week, and the Colts will win a one score game, but enough to cover.
Titans at Dolphins
Note: The spread has not been released yet due to the Titans QB situation, but I’m going to assume Matt Cassel will be starting.
As a Cowboys fan, I know what having Matt Cassel as your QB means. It means a lot of bad passes, a lot of trips to the Red Zone that end with a field goal, and a lot of close losses, regardless of the skill of the opponent. In addition, they got absolutely embarrassed in Houston last weekend. The Dolphins have only scored 6 point the last two games, but I still like them to win their first game in Miami against a Titans team starting Matt Cassel (if you’re going to watch any of the videos I’ve posted, this is the one).
Chargers at Giants (-3.5)
Talk about a shit show heading to the Meadowlands. A matchup between two teams that should be better than 0-4 going for their first wins should actually be decently entertaining. Throw in the Eli Manning-Phillip Rivers connection, it makes it even more interesting. This game is gonna have a great mix of great plays and complete bonehead plays, but ultimately I think the Giants win a close one, and enough to cover.
Cardinals (+6.5) at Eagles
The Cardinals describe the perfect .500 team. Plays down to their worst opponents, yet stays competitive with the best ones. The latter is what we have this weekend, and with the Eagles tendency to play close games as well, I think the Eagles get the win at home, but the Cardinals cover.
Jaguars (+8) at Steelers
Do odd numbered weeks favor the Jags? They have won two blowouts outside of Jacksonville in Weeks 1 and 3, while getting crushed at home against the Titans and losing on the road to the Jets in Weeks 2 and 4, respectively. I think the odd-week Jaguars continue as they will cover, but not have enough to win in Pittsburgh.
Ravens (+2.5) at Raiders
Really tough matchup to pick here. On one hand you hand the Ravens who have looked awful the last two weeks. On the other, the Raiders looked awful at the end of last season without Derek Carr. The Raiders may have some trouble scoring, and I think Flacco and the Ravens do enough to get an ugly upset in Oakland.
Before the season, I picked the Rams to win this matchup because the Seahawks have lost on the road against them each of the last two seasons. But now, the Rams offense may be for real. They will face a very big test against Seattle’s D and their offense which may finally be finding its groove. But I like the Rams to get a get a big win at home and prove they are finally for real this year.
Packers at Cowboys (-2)
For the second straight week, the Cowboys will face a team coming off extended rest from a Thursday night game. However, the Packers got pretty banged up against the Bears. The last time these teams met, the Packers won by 3 as an extremely hot team. Right now, the Packers are not as good as that team was, and the Cowboys will be looking to avenge a team that has bounced them in each of their last two playoff appearances. I like the Cowboys to win and cover at home.
Chiefs at Texans (+1)
The Chiefs have undoubtedly been the strongest team in the NFL so far this season. However, the Texans have been a significantly different team since starting DeShaun Watson as QB. The team who put up less than 10 in Week 1 put up over 50 last week. I think the Chiefs unbeaten run ends and the Texans pick up the upset win at home.
Vikings at Bears
Note: The spread has not been released due to the Vikings QB situation.
The highest drafted QB from the last draft, Mitchell Trubisky, makes his debut for the Bears. As a QB who only played one year in college, has a rough team around him, and is playing an elite defense I don’t like his chances in his debut. No matter who is playing QB, I like the Vikings to win a low scoring game.
Be back for Week 6. Will the Giants and Chargers BOTH still be winless?
But this banner? Makes absolutely no sense. First of all, Zeke doesn’t even go to Ohio State anymore and hasn’t for 2 years. We also happen to know that Ray Rice, arguably the greatest Rutgers football player ever, had a video of him hitting his wife go viral (I still think he got the short end of the stick with his complete exile from football after that, considering there are certainly other guys in the league who have done as bad/worse things and just weren’t caught on camera, but domestic violence is still inexcusable). So there’s really two options for what happened here.
On the one hand, they completely forgot about the most high-profile domestic violence case in recent NFL history, which just so happened to involve our best player ever. Or, it’s just a really bad sarcastic joke. And take it from me, I make AWFUL sarcastic jokes multiple times every day, I know a bad one when I see one. But “hey guys, get it? We had a star running back beat his significant other too!” isn’t exactly a knee slapper. And yes, I know the Penn State ones are pretty awful too, considering the acts that took place. But that’s something they did and we didn’t; saying “our former player hit a girl too” doesn’t exactly make us look good.
Overall, I respect the effort. I love banners like this, and getting on Barstool is dope. But in a classic Rutgers move, the banner makes absolutely no fucking sense. At the end of the day, we could have the most savage banners ever created hanging all over College Ave and we’re still probably going to lose by 40. But every time my brain tells me there’s no chance, my heart (and my drunk brain) tells me maybe there is a chance. Saturday can’t get here fast enough, RU Rah Rah baby.
P.S. Anyone who ever tells you at a tailgate that “it’s a marathon not a sprint” is probably an undercover cop. Who says you can’t sprint the whole marathon?