Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, November 28, 2011 at 9:35 AM
The New York Giants have one of the most interesting resume's of any NFL team this season. There was a point where you could make a case for them as a serious championship contender. Yet...we're talking about a team that LOST on the road to Washington, LOST at home to Seattle, LOST at home to Vince Young and the then 3-6 Philadelphia Eagles, and BARELY GOT BY Arizona, Miami, and Buffalo.
That's not championship material...that's a 6-10 team!
We can't forget the road win at New England. And, the road win at Philadelphia way back in Week Three was nice even if it turned out not to be as meaningful as first thought. How can you win at New England but lose at home to Seattle?! Let's quickly run through what the Giants have done so far, while adding some perspective about what we know NOW about those opponents...
NY GIANTS GAME BY GAME
Lost at Washington (which looks even worse now)
Dominated St. Louis (no big deal)
Won at Philadelphia (not as special now as it seemed)
Won at Arizona (not as special now as it seemed)
Lost at home to Seattle (ugly, but Seahawks are improving)
Barely beat Buffalo (who subsequently fell off the map)
Barely beat Miami (a lot of that going around)
Won at New England (HUGE WIN!)
Lost at San Francisco (not awful, missed Vegas spread by 3)
Lost at home to Philadelphia (bad since Vick was out).
In the standings, the Giants are a contender for the NFC East and a Wildcard spot in the conference overall. But, looking over the first 10 games...the Giants may not have faced a playoff caliber team until New England. Then, that win was immediately followed by two losses.
The Giants drew the NFC West this year, off a very bad season for that group, and has now finished all four games in that set. The Giants drew the AFC East this year, and has played everyone but the Jets. You'll note that they haven't played Dallas yet...and they're staring up at Dallas in the NFC East standings.
Here's what New York has from this point forward
NEW YORK GIANTS' REMAINING GAMES
Tonight: at New Orleans
Dec 4: vs. Green Bay
Dec. 11: at Dallas
Dec. 18: vs. Washington
Dec. 24: vs. NY Jets
Jan. 1: vs. Dallas
Any cakewalks? Washington is the weakest opponent, and they knocked off New York in the earlier meeting. The Giants may be 6-4 at the moment...but getting to nine wins is going to have to involve some high quality football vs. some good teams. Four of the last six games on the schedule are against current division leaders. The Jets may or may not be fighting for a playoff spot on Christmas Eve.
If New York can't pull off an upset tonight in New Orleans, this is conceivably a 7-9 team that's going to fall way short of recent expectations. The season finale vs. Dallas may be a lame duck spot because the Cowboys will have clinched the division, and two others amongst Atlanta-Detroit-Chicago may have wrapped up Wildcards. So...8-8 could be in the cards if late opponents don't have need. Can the Giants get to 10-6 or 11-5 from 6-4 against THAT schedule?
Recent results suggest it's a long shot. Let's see what our indicator stats are saying about tonight...
DRIVE POINTS PER GAME (scored and allowed on 60 yards or more)
NY Giants: 16.2 on offense, 14.3 on defense
New Orleans: 19.8 on offense, 13.8 on defense
Eli Manning has been moving the ball this year, and deserves credit for doing so. He's still not Drew Brees though. The defenses basically cancel out with numbers that won't serve them well come playoff time against the likes of Aaron Rodgers (or Tony Romo for that matter). New Orleans has a differential of +6.0, compared to just +1.9 for the Giants. That's why you have a Vegas spread near a touchdown in this game. The Saints are the better team, and they have home field advantage.
In past years, we'd circle any NFL game that had all four categories here registering in double digits for Over consideration. Here, all four categories are at two touchdowns or higher give or take a fraction with the defenses. All that indoors, with these quarterbacks, would suggest some consideration for the Over, even though it's a high number. Success will probably depend on whether turnovers take points off the board or put more points on the board.
THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS
NY Giants: 36% on offense, 36% on defense
New Orleans: 53%% on offense, 35% on defense
Wow...New Orleans is AMAZING in this stat. Brees has mastered the art of moving the chains, while the defense makes up for other woes by rising to the occasion on third downs. Now, the Saints haven't played a killer schedule, so plus 18% in differential isn't likely to hold up when they step up in class. Still, that's amazing stuff. The Giants are right at break even with a schedule that didn't have any playoff teams until Week Seven. You can see from the first two categories that New Orleans drives the field for points, while the Giants aim for the big play.
NY Giants: +7 (22 takeaways, 15 giveaways)
New Orleans: -5 (9 takeaways, 14 giveaways)
This is where the Giants have a chance to make this a game...as a defense that's forced 22 miscues will be facing a wide open offense. The downside is that turnover luck may be part of this differential. New Orleans had a lot of takeaways the year they won the Super Bowl. We're skeptical that the risk/reward element of the NFL truly offers THIS big an edge to the Giants. The category is always tough, because turnovers are a result of both skill and luck to a degree that math hasn't mastered in terms of clean predictions.
Let's say it this way...the Giants will probably need a turnover edge to win this game, and will probably need a turnover edge just to cover the spread based on the numbers we saw in the first two categories.
JIM HURLEY is ready for MINCE PIE MONDAY, the traditional grand finale to our Thanksgiving Feast. Tonight's play on the side or total (or both) will go up a few hours before kickoff right here at the website. If you prefer talking to a live person, you can call our office at 1-800-323-4453. This is a great time to talk to one or our representatives about the rest of football and early season basketball. Sounds like the NBA is going to get started by Christmas...which means the hoops outlook is very bright too!
Speaking of hoops...here's a brief look at games we'll be focusing on over the next few days with our basketball program:
MONDAY: Xavier at Vanderbilt on ESPN2 (both very respected entering 2011-12)
TUESDAY: Duke at Ohio State on ESPN, in one of the most anticipated college hoop meetings of the entire season. (Bonus plays may be coming in Illinois/Maryland on ESPN, and Miami-Purdue on ESPN2 as the Big Ten-ACC challenge roars into full swing)
WEDNESDAY: Wisconsin at North Carolina on ESPN is the showcase game here, with Florida State at Michigan State also being a game to watch in terms of postseason potential.
THURSDAY: How about St. John's at Kentucky and Georgetown at Alabama in an ESPN2 doubleheader! (There's also football, with Philadelphia-Seattle on the NFL Network and West Virginia-South Florida on ESPN in college football!)
FRIDAY: The SEC-Big East series continues with Florida at Syracuse and Vanderbilt at Louisville on ESPN, plus a couple of other games on ESPNU. Championship Weekend begins in college football Friday Night with the Pac 12 and MAC title tilts.
Thanksgiving Weekend wasn't an end unto itself...it was the BEGINNING OF SOMETHING BIG with an amazing week of college hoops setting up championship weekend in college football!
THIS IS NOT THE WEEK TO SIT ON THE SIDELINES! BE SURE YOU GET IN THE GAME!