Dave Klein was the Giants' beat
writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books
and he is one of only three sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls.
Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.
(Accepting the fact that it's early, and that there is no guarantee that the 2020
NFL schedule will proceed as expected, our Scott Landstrom attempts here to break
down that schedule game-by-game to produce a portrait of what he thinks the season
(hopefully) will look like.
He finds some discrepancies in games in which
the Giants are favored as well as in games where they are underdogs. But it provides
an insight into how others look at the team, so enjoy!)
Well, Giants Nation,
one of the more progressive "sports books" in Vegas came out with the
early point spreads for all games on the schedule this season, so I thought it
might be fun to dive in and see where it feels that the "experts" are
not giving the Giants enough credit, and in other cases, where they may have given
them too much respect.
I realize very
few E-GIANTS readers actually bet the games, so consider this a metaphorical exercise
just to assess how these games stack up competitively on the schedule, at least
as far as the wagering authorities are concerned.
Without further ado, here are the lines, and the direction I am leaning vs. the
point spread given:
Steeler defense is well above average, particularly on pass rush with T.J. Watt
and Bud Dupree both with double digit sacks. Steelers offense minus Big Ben was
a yawner - only three teams had less total offense. If Giants can block up their
front pass rush, and get a few decent holes for Saquon to exploit, I think this
is a very winnable game. Bet GIANTS plus 3.5 points!|
Biggest point deficit for a line the Giants will face all season. I am ALL OVER
this line for the Giants as Chicago's offense doesn't scare anyone, because Mitch
Trubisky is an uneven QB and Nick Foles did not set the world on fire either last
season. Yes, offensive pass blocking must account for Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn,
but after that, the Bears don's scare me. Bet GIANTS plus 10.5 points!|
Playing the team that SHOULD HAVE won the Super Bowl - I just think the Niners
are a tough match up for anyone in the NFC. Their pass defense had the lowest
yards/game allowed in over a decade in the NFL, and head coach Kyle Shanahan is
a great play-caller (until he gets into a Super Bowl). Even playing at home, this
is a lot to bite off for a 4-12 youthful team. Bet NINERS minus 6.5 points!|
Gosh, with guys like Aaron Donald and Dante Fowler on their line, the Giants face
the fourth of only four teams in the NFL with TWO "double-digit sackers"
on their team. All in a row. While I firmly believe New York can be competitive
in this game, the line (since home field is worth 3.0 points) suggests the Rams
are only 0.5 points better than the Giants on a neutral field, and I just don't
see how Vegas can suggest that, given their 9-7 record last season, and trip to
the Super Bowl the season before. Bet RAMS minus 3.5 points!|
Gosh, I am trying to remember the last time the Giants went into "Jerrah's
World" and came out with a "W." The record says that only one time
in the past seven trips to Dallas has New York prevailed, and even that was by
a single point, fueled by a JPP batted pass, interception and return for a TD.
Alas, that was before Gettleman arrived and traded away all our pass rushers.
The other six games averaged 9.3 points margin in favor of the Cowboys. Perhaps
having Jason Garrett and OL coach Marc Columbo on our sideline with their knowledge
of Cowboy personnel may help, but until we can prove otherwise, Dallas OWNS us
in their stadium: Bet COWBOYS minus 6.5 points!|
Well, after the "murderer's row" of pass rushing teams the Giants faced
the first four weeks, getting a break last week against a Cowboy team that lost
their top sacker (Robert Quinn to the Bears), it is right back in "the soup"
for the offensive line against a rebuilt Redskin pass rush. Matt Ioannidis had
the fourth most sacks for a defensive tackle in the NFL, Montez Sweat had 7.0
sacks as a rookie, Ryan Kerrigan has been to the Pro Bowl three times as a pass
rusher, and they just added one of the most imposing talents in this area coming
out of college in the last decade in Chase Young. All that said, it appears to
be that this is a chance for Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley to show they are
the superior two-way threat compared to Dwayne Haskins and Derrius Guice: Bet
GIANTS minus 4.5 points!|
I will tell you; this is the toughest pick on the schedule for me. On one hand,
the Eagles have the top-ranked offensive line in the NFL, they have an all-Pro
tight end (Zach Ertz), a QB who was on his way to the NFL MVP award in 2018 when
he was lost for the season (Carson Wentz), and a rush defense that was third in
the NFL. Plus, they have beaten New York nine out of 11 games played in their
stadium since 2009. Additionally, the last time we played them, they won by 17
in MetLife Stadium in the final game of last season. Like the Cowboys rivalry,
we have to start winning some games to call it a true "rivalry" ...
which is especially hard to do in their inhospitable stadium in front of those
lunatic fans: Bet EAGLES minus 7.5 points! |
Wow - this one is a shocker. The biggest "favorite" point spread of
the season for the Giants, and it is against Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and the
Tampa Bay Bucs at MetLife Stadium. And these two are added to a team that already
led the NFL in passing yardage (even without Brady and "Gronk") and
led the NFL in rush defense by a wide margin, allowing only 73 yards per game.
Oh, and they had the NFL leader in QB sacks as well in Shaquil Barrett (19.5 sacks
last season). I think the Giants pull out a squeaker at home, but don't like the
point spread being over a touchdown: Bet: BUCS plus 7.5 points! |
Just like the Cowboys and Eagles have "had our number" so too have the
Giants generally prevailed against Washington in recent seasons. New York has
won five out of the last seven games in D.C. and six out of the last eight in
ours. I expect a close game here, but the spread is miniscule: Bet: GIANTS plus
OK, at some point, the Giants have to say "Enough!!" to losing consistently
to the Eagles and Cowboys within the NFC East, especially at home, and I think
this just might be the game. Daniel Jones will have had nine full games under
his belt in Jason Garrett's offense, and should be hitting his "stride."
Andrew Thomas will have made it through a brutal (almost unprecedented for a rookie)
list of pass rushers by now: T.J. Watt, Khalil Mack, Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead,
Chase Young, Robert Quinn, Dante Fowler Jr., Ryan Kerrigan, Shaquil Barrett, Bud
Dupree. For you mathematicians at home, EVERY ONE of those dudes (except rookie
prodigy Young) was in the top 15 of QB sackers in 2019, so he will either be in
shambles - or he will have stood up to the tests and grown as a tackle. I am betting
on the latter, and that he will be fully ready to block Brandon Graham in this
game. Bet: GIANTS plus the 3.0 points!|
this will be one of the top QBs from last year's draft (Daniel Jones) against
the top QB from this year's draft (Joe Burrow). I just think between Barkley,
Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, Evan Engram and Darius Slayton that Jones has more
weapons, and the Giants win their first game on the road against an AFC team since
September of 2018. Bet: GIANTS plus 1.5 points!|
Probably no home field advantage is quite as large as in Seattle, with the "12th
man" culture and raucous noise. That said, their once-ferocious defense has
had so many defections (Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Earl Thomas, JaDaveon
Clowney, Cam Chancellor) that it seems Bobby Wagner is the only remaining stalwart,
as they finished 26th in defense last season. But Russell Wilson was second in
the MVP voting last season, and he has a pair of 1,000-yard receivers in Tyler
Lockhart and D.K. Metcalf - but more than anything, this is just a hard place
to play on the road. Bet: SEAHAWKS minus the 7.5 points!|
Of all the lines presented for this upcoming season, this one makes the least
sense to me. Cardinals won five games, Giants won four last season so they were
one measly game below Arizona. And they are going to come into MetLife and be
favored by 4.5? That says Vegas thinks they are 7.5 points better on a neutral
field - and that is just horse manure. No way. Bet: Giants plus 4.5 points!|
Once again, I am mystified. This Cleveland team lost four of its last five games
in 2019, including giving the lowly Bengals a 10-point victory on the last day
of the season, one of only two wins they would see all year. Add in the intrigue
and "juice" of Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon coming back to their
old stomping grounds, and it is just VITAL that the Giants send them home with
a loss! Bet: Giants plus 1.5 points!|
While I railed about the Giants not getting ENOUGH respect from Vegas for the
previous two games, this time I just don't understand why the line isn't heavier
in favor of the Ravens, playing in Baltimore. I mean, HELLO? This is a team that
won 14 games last season - and they make Baltimore only a point and a half favorite?
This line is wrong by about a full touchdown - should be 8.5 points: Bet: RAVENS
minus the 1.5 points!|
Well, while I don't expect the Giants to make the playoffs in this, the 2020 season,
there is one thing I DO expect out of them - to stop being a "doormat"
for the Eagles and Cowboys and getting swept each season. So we gave the nod to
Dallas and Philly in their parks, and this is when New York finally gets off the
schneid and ends Dallas' (now) SEVEN game win streak against the Giants, and finishes
the season on a high note for Jones, Barkley and the team, and Garrett in particular.
Bet: GIANTS plus 1.5 points!|
So in summary, there are nine games I am favoring the Giants side of "the
line," eight of those nine as "underdogs" according to Vegas. In
seven games I am favoring the opponent. The two most preposterous point spreads
that unduly discredit New York is Chicago giving 10.5 points to New York in week
two at Soldier Field, and Arizona giving the Giants 4.5 points at MetLife stadium,
The two lines in which I think
perhaps New York is getting too much credit are against Tom Brady and the Bucs
getting over a touchdown (+7.5 points) playing in our stadium, and the 14-win
Ravens and their reigning MVP Lamar Jackson only giving 1.5 points at their place.
to be expected, these lines will be subject to wild modifications as the season
progresses, but this is what we have to work with now. Enjoy!
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