Tonight’s game has the winless Giants traveling to Chicago to take on the 3-2 Bears. The Giants have been, in a word, terrible. You can excuse losses to the Broncos and on the road against the Chiefs, but coming up short against Dallas, Philly, and Carolina (in a shutout) isn’t helpful, particularly since two of those are division foes. Outside of the first game against the Cowboys, where even their five point loss wasn’t as close as it seemed thanks to a junk touchdown at the end of the game, they haven’t really even been competitive. The Giants are near the bottom of the league in rushing efficiency, and while the passing game is actually average you have to couple it with a lot of garbage time and the league’s worst interception rate. On the plus side, the defense has been a tiny bit above average, although they have the worst sack rate in the league and a below-average interception rate.
On the other side, the Bears have lost two in a row after starting 3-0, but those losses seem much more excusable. Losing to the Saints isn’t exactly a shame, and losing in Detroit isn’t great but isn’t a poor showing either. Before that they had two close wins over the Bengals and Vikings (both comebacks) and a solid win in Pittsburgh. It isn’t exactly the most impressive record, but it’s better than being 0-5. In terms of the numbers they’ve put up, the Bears are above-average running the ball with Matt Forte and a bit above average at passing as well. Cutler has been a little sloppy with the ball (although obviously not as bad as Eli) but they’ve at least been doing a good job of keeping him upright. Defensively the Bears have been relatively stout against the run but have been giving up yards in the air. They’ve made up for it a bit with a decent interception rate, but haven’t been getting many sacks so far. Chicago isn’t quite setting the world on fire, but they have a good offense and the defense isn’t killing them.
It seems like the question will be if Eli can keep track of the ball well enough to get yards against the Bears’ passing defense, while the Giants’ defense will have to do something to make Cutler worried. The models don’t see a good chance of that happening. Luigi has the Bears winning by almost 12 and Yoshi 2 has it at 10; the typically restrained Yoshi 1 has it at about 4.5. The line from the SuperContest is 7.5, so I would feel relatively good about the Bears covering.
In terms of the SuperContest, Luigi’s picks are Buffalo +7, Tennessee +13.5, Arizona +11, St. Louis +7.5, and Jacksonville +26.5 (those last two just ahead of Jets -2.5). Buffalo is hard to pin down since they’ve been moving through quarterbacks so much, but it also seems reasonable to point out that the Bengals have only broken 21 points once so far. Can you cover 7 points if you only get 20 points? Maybe a tall order. Titans and Cardinals are pretty much just big line picks, and the Rams are similar. The Jaguars fall in the same camp; Luigi thinks they’ll lose by 21. That being said, I have no idea if Jacksonville can stay in the stadium, or how much garbage time there might be, or if the Jaguars’ starters are better than Denver’s back-ups.
Luigi’s outright picks are Chicago, Buffalo, Cleveland (very depressing for me), Kansas City, Minnesota, Jets, Philly, Baltimore (surprising to me), Houston, Denver, Seattle, New Orleans, San Fran, Dallas, and San Diego.
Rounding out the SuperContest picks, Yoshi 1 has Jacksonville, Buffalo, Tennessee, Arizona, and Cleveland +2.5 (the same group but swapping the Browns for the Rams). Yoshi 2 has Buffalo, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Arizona, and the Rams, or the same group as Luigi.
I’m on the road this weekend, so we’ll see when I get a chance to put up the full picks. Happy Thursday!