I know. It was two wins over doormats. I know. They started 1-7 and at best by Monday morning they’ll be 4-7, still two games out with only five to play.
But this is a call that’s all about star power rising up over abject mediocrity. More specifically, it’s me moving all my chips to the center of the table and riding the wave that is a once in a generation talent we are all lucky enough to watch blossom before our very eyes.
Saquon Barkley is that good, folks. He started the season well enough, gaining positive yards in a multitude of ways, all the while maintaining composure and professionalism as all seemed to be collapsing around him. He’s hung tough, never looking sideways for excuses, even when we all questioned why the win-starved Giants wouldn’t find a way to give him the ball more often.
And have you noticed? He’s getting better every week. And thankfully Pat Shurmur decided somewhere along the way to trash the rookie “kid gloves” and to simply start feeding the beast.
Now the much maligned Giants offensive line is blocking better. And Eli Manning has remembered how to be a competent passer. And Odell Beckham Jr., and the other receivers are getting open. These are not mere coincidences. And yup, there still remain multiple glaring deficiencies on the defensive side of the ball for NY, but in this 2018 NFL, defensive is merely optional.
What’s the definition of a superstar?
A badass freak of nature who makes everyone around him raise their performance on a weekly basis as a result of their association with said superstar. And we are watching a superstar in the making. Please Pat Shurmur, keep giving Saquon Barkley the ball 30 times a game, and get the heck out of the way!
Now, take a look at what the Giants have left on their schedule. They start with the Super Bowl champion Eagles tomorrow. The Eagles seem to be playing as though they are more concerned with confirming their Lombardi Trophy from last season didn’t come with some sort of clawback provision that gets triggered should a team quit before Thanksgiving of the following year.
Then New York hosts the Bears. Hmmm. That’s the one on the schedule that gives me pause. Luckily, the Bears have an offense that even the weak Big Blue D can hang with, so I’m calling this one a “W,” too. Saquon will break through just enough to eke out the win. Then it’s down to our nation’s capital to play the barely hanging on life support Washington Football Club. I’m declaring the Giants 6-7 after that one.
Next come two AFC South tilts, one at home against the oh-so-meh Titans, and one on the road in Indy. Now that one could very well conclude with both teams having scored a TD on every offensive possession. Should the Giants defense rise to the occasion and hold Andrew Luck and company under 60, we’ll call this one a victory, too.
That takes Big Blue to 8-7 heading into the final game of the year, where they will host the despised Dallas Cowboys (who, by the way, will also be 8-7 at this juncture, as their uneven season will continue with a couple more losses between now and then).
Last game of the year for the division title? Giants versus Cowboys? Bring it on!
Could it be? Sure, why not? Do you really think Washington will only lose twice more this season? They stunk before all the injuries. Pencil them in at 8-8.
So let’s have some fun with it and ride the New York Football Giants bandwagon one week at a time and see what happens. Sure beats the heck out of trying to decipher the parity that plagues much of the NFL these days, and that has thus far turned the proud NFC East into an uninspiring pillow fight.
Of course, if the Giants don’t go down the New Jersey Turnpike and take care of business tomorrow, welllll…
And that brings us to this week’s NFL Six Picks, upset special style (as always, home teams in ALL CAPS):
Giants (+5) over PHILLY — Interesting must win game for both teams here. One aspect of the whole “Giants run the table” storyline that hasn’t gotten nearly the play, is that while we know a loss this week likely ends that unlikely story for Big Blue, an Eagles win would breathe life back into the defending champs, raising their record to 5-6 and only one game back of the current leaders. And Philly still plays Dallas again (in Philly), plus they have two with the Native Americans (I’m predicting two Eagles wins). But quit dreaming Eagles fans, Saquon will prove too much for the depleted Philly defense, and the play action Barkley’s presence opens up will spring OBJ loose for a couple long TD’s from Eli. Giants exact revenge. (New York, 34-20)
Cleveland (pick) over the BENGALS — The “new coach bounce” continues for the Browns, as their young and on the rise roster, playing for 2019 jobs, will march into arch rival territory and pile on the reeling Bengals, who will officially have the white flag raised by Monday morning. Let the speculation begin on who the new Bengals head coach will be when 2019 rolls around. (Browns, 27-17)
Steelers (-3) over the BRONCOS — It’s a mystery to me how this Denver team has accumulated five wins and can sit at .500 this late in the season. And yes, the Broncos are always dangerous at home, but even the stout Denver D will get worn out by Big Ben and the relentless Steelers offensive machine. Pittsburgh seems destined to emerge from the AFC this year, and the talent differential here is too great to go with the home dog. (Steelers, 26-13)
Dolphins (+9) over the COLTS — This line is such a sucker bet, I simply can’t resist. The Colts have fought like hell to get to respectability and a .500 record, and finally sit in a position where they are expected to win a game easily. And that is the kiss of death for any AFC South team, even one salivating over Brock Osweiler (yikes) calling the snaps across the line of scrimmage. Miami has shown the ability to surprise when everyone has given up on them multiple times this year. Make it one more — upset special. (Miami, 21-20)
Packers (+3) over MINNESOTA — A NFC North slugfest between arch rivals. Somehow,though, this one loses luster for me with the Vikings playing under a dome, and for that reason alone we’ll go with the Pack here. I’m officially done with the Vikings. They seem to match up well on both sides of the ball every week, but always disappoint. Can we officially label Kirk Cousins a bust yet? Aaron Rogers gets his Packers back to .500, where virtually every team currently resides in this year’s NFL. (Green Bay, 27-23)
Titans (+5.5) over the TEXANS — Just typing the word “Titans” makes me start to yawn. And the Texans are the league’s hottest team. But remember, this is the stumbling, bumbling AFC South, and this Monday Night Football matchup (a quick shoutout to ESPN for listening to my persistent emails and pairing these two teams, who I basically view as the same franchise) will further muddy up the divisional race. Houston is loaded with star power, momentum, and play at home. Yup, so go big with Tennessee. (Titans, 28-26)
Last Week’s Six Picks Ledger: 2-3-1 (30-27-3 on the year)
Which brings us to Lucky 7 time here at SportsAttic!
Last week’s valiant effort from Nutley Bob to maintain the Guest Prognosticator momentum ran into an upset buzzsaw out in San Diego. So despite sharing a hometown with the Annie Oakley Museum (not to mention Furio Giunta, one of the Top 5, All-Time Great Sopranos supporting characters — other four at the bottom), Nutley Bob was unable to run the success streak to an unprecedented three games in a row.
Taking the Guest Prognosticator baton from Nutley Bob this week, is none other than AtticDaughter1, home for Thanksgiving break and a well deserved respite from rigorous studies at the University of Southern California. Despite making clear her general annoyance over not being able to pick the Saints and her fave QB Drew Brees, AtticDaughter1 has nonetheless agreed to grace SportsAttic Nation with her presence and gridiron expertise.
JETS (+10.5) over New England — “Hello, SportsAttic friends! While I really wanted to pick the Saints and Drew Brees to crush the Cowboys next Thursday, Dad (AtticBro), in his typical annoying obsession with rules and procedure, is forcing me to pick a different game. So I’m going with my true favorite team! I’m sure my father would be happy to hear that I am physically incapable of rooting against the Jets. Many a frosty night, frequently featuring snow, and always including drunken Jets fans screaming into my 7-year-old face, instilled a diehard sense of loyalty in me for the Gang Green. I was going to focus my upset call on Sam Darnold, who I cheered on the past two years at USC, but my dad informed me he is injured. So instead I will turn my focus to the point spread. Dad has attempted to explain to me at least ten different times, and using just as many analogies, how a point spread actually works, but I’m just gonna say everybody loves an underdog — especially against that grumpy New England coach in the hoodie, and his Hall of Fame QB. As Fireman Ed always says, J-E-T-S, JETS, JETS, JETS!” (Jets, 21-20).
SportsAttic Take: While I can’t help but smile with pride over AtticDaughter1’s blind allegiance to Gang Green, I’m afraid this one could get ugly for the Airplanes. Josh McCown is no Sam the Man, and with little in the way of skill position players, I simply don’t see the Jets reaching double-digits on the scoreboard. Look for the Pats and Giselle’s Husband to toy with the home team, sealing poor Todd Bowles’ fate with an emphatic beatdown. (Patriots, 40-7)
And if you are wondering — in addition to the afore-mentioned Furio, the rest of the Top 5, All-Time Greatest Sopranos supporting characters are (in order):
- Livia Soprano (not really fair to call her a supporting character, as she would have been a regular if she hadn’t passed away in real life following Season 1)
- Ralph Cifaretto (Ralphie is really 1A — we’ll call it a tie with Livia)
- Bobby “Bacala” Baccalieri
- Hesh Radkin
Happy (belated) Thanksgiving to all!