Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, December 26, 2015 at 4:00 PM
The NY Giants drew the short end of the stick in terms of late season schedules. They had to face the undefeated Carolina Panthers last week. Now, they go on the road to face the playoff-bound Minnesota Vikings outdoors in late December. Their fans can’t really gripe though because the G-men played had played one of the easiest schedules in the league before that!
They enter Week 16 with a 6-8 record that would more likely have been 5-9 (or worse) against a league average slate. And, they’ve done that in the only NFC division that doesn’t punish you for being mediocre. Go 6-8 in the NFC West…and nobody’s even thinking about you any more!
So…the Giants can sulk about their fate…or they can try to fix the issues that have kept them from reaching anything resembling championship form in the 2015 season.
Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)
NY Giants: 6-8 (#26 ranked schedule according to Sagarin)
Minnesota: 9-5 (#9 ranked schedule according to Sagarin)
Minnesota is three games better in the standings while playing the much tougher schedule. It’s true that Minnesota has struggled a bit vs. quality in the second half of the season (particularly at home against Green Bay and Seattle). But, they’ve done well vs. teams who are mediocre or worse. That’s the Giants! If Jeff Sagarin of USA Today is correct about Minnesota playing the tougher slate, this one might not even be close.
NY Giants: 5.6 on offense, 6.1 on defense
Minnesota: 5.3 on offense, 5.4 on defense
Think about this…the Giants have a bad record and even worse-looking stats while playing a soft schedule! Would they be allowing 6.4 or 6.5 yards-per-play against a league average slate? Minnesota would cross over into positive territory against a fairer 2015 schedule. Big edges so far for the Vikings, particularly when you throw in home field advantage.
NY Giants: +8
Things could get interesting here. The Giants have done a good job of managing risk this season. That’s why they’re not looking at a 4-12 record or worse. Eli Manning has stopped throwing it to the wrong team. Minnesota’s been a disappointment considering how conservative they are with the ball. If they have to open things up, Teddy Bridgewater runs into trouble. Given the wide YPP discrepancy, this one probably only gets close if the Giants win the turnover category.
NY Giants: 8-5-1 ATS (9-5 to the Over)
Minnesota: 11-3 ATS (3-10-1 to the Under)
An amazing story. Minnesota was a darling of the sharps heading into the season. Yet, a horrible outing to start the year at San Francisco soured a few. Minnesota is 11-2 ATS since then! The two non-covers were the losses to Green Bay and Seattle. Since SF, the Vikings always cash unless outclassed at home. That tells you how important Adrian Peterson has been to investors. And, why you should check the latest news on his ankle before placing any bets here. Minnesota’s been a money machine because of Peterson.
Current Line: Minnesota by 5.5, total of 45.4
The line has been gyrating a bit with each new report on Peterson’s status. Obviously, it’s very tough to trust Bridgewater to cover this spread if Peterson can’t contribute much. If the stud running back is near 100%, then you’re looking at that 11-2 ATS run for the Vikings that’s seen the market consistently underrate them. Tricky!
INFORMATION WILL BE EVERYTHING here, which plays into the strengths of JIM HURLEY’S exclusive TEAM HANDICAPPING approach. We have until Sunday mornig to figure out how to play this prime time affair (time changed from an early kick for NBC). We’ll run the computer simulations with Peterson and without him. Our numbers will be better than the market no matter how it plays out.
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Monday: NFL TV Preview…Cincinnati at Denver
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Weekend: NFL TV Preview…most important Sunday game!
Those early looks at OU/Clemson and Alabama/MSU will give you plenty of time to make your final decisions in the national Final Four. Before that…a mystery-riddled Cincinnati/Denver game. Who would have imagined back in September it would be A.J. McCarron taking on Brock Osweiler amidst the race for the #2 seed in the AFC?!
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