New York Giants Odds to Win the Super Bowl and Betting Futures
by Alan Matthews - 7/3/2014
The New York Giants appear likely to lose the battle for the back page of those New York tabloids this season as this looks like a rather bland, mediocre group. At least the Jets made some big offensive splashes in free agency this offseason, and of course Rex Ryan is a little more fun than Tom Coughlin.
It's a good thing Coughlin, the oldest coach in the NFL and longest-tenured in the NFC, has those two Super Bowl rings as they are the only thing keeping him a job. The Giants missed the playoffs last year for the fourth time in the past five seasons, and their seven wins were the team's fewest since 2004, which was Coughlin's first season. Coughlin got a contract extension in February rather than be a lame-duck coach this season, but that means nothing. He will be 68 in August, and I think he's out after this year unless the Giants finish above .500. It also could be a crucial year for Eli Manning, who has been regressing the past two. He will be 34 in January, and if Manning struggles again, it might be time for the Giants to start grooming his successor and take a QB early in next year's draft.
ESPN.com recently posted a story about the 10 most overpaid players in the NFL last year, and Manning was No. 1. I tend to agree. Manning completed just 57.5 percent of his passes, his lowest number since 2007, for 3,818 yards, 18 touchdowns (fewest since rookie year) and a whopping 27 picks. That latter number not only led the NFL but was the most of any quarterback since 2005. Eli did that with a monster cap hit of $20.8 million in 2013. Manning has two more years on his deal at around that number. Yikes.
New York's injury-ravaged offensive line was terrible last year, so GM Jerry Reese signed four free agents, two of whom project as starters as of now. He signed Geoff Schwartz from Kansas City to play left guard and J.D. Walton from Washington to play center, a position he hasn't played since 2012 due to injury. Just in case that doesn't work out, the Giants took Colorado State center Weston Richburg with their second-round pick in May.
The running game was one of the worst in the NFL last year, averaging only 83.3 yards per game. Andre Brown led the team with just 492 yards. He's gone now, with the starter expected to be former Oakland Raider Rashad Jennings. He had a career-high 733 yards (4.5 per carry) last year and six touchdowns in 15 games as Darren McFadden's backup/co-starter/injury replacement. I'm not sure Jennings is a No. 1 back in the NFL. I really liked New York's fourth-round pick, Boston College running back Andre Williams. He was a one-man show with BC last year, rushing a whopping 355 times for an NCAA-leading 2,177 yards. Right now he's listed as the No. 4 back, but I'm betting he'll be No. 2 by opening day. Currently that honor belongs to Peyton Hillis, which is laughable. Manning has one of the NFL's better receivers in Victor Cruz, although his numbers (73 catches, 998 yards, four TDs in 14 games) were all down last year. The team took LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. with its first-round pick. He attended the same New Orleans high school as Manning, and they already knew each other pretty well. Beckham caught a career-high 59 passes for 1,152 yards and eight touchdowns in 2013.
The Giants won those two Super Bowl rings with Coughlin largely because the front four was dominant in those years. In 2011, Jason Pierre-Paul was a Defensive Player of the Year candidate with 16.5 sacks and eight tackles for loss. In 2007, the Giants had a terrific duo of Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, both of whom are now elsewhere. Tuck had a team-leading 11 sacks last year but signed with the Raiders. Pierre-Paul has never come close to being that guy he was three years ago. He had two sacks in 11 games last year. New York did sign Broncos free agent Robert Ayers. He had 5.5 sacks last year.
The team also beefed up the secondary with cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Broncos) and Walter Thurmond (Seahawks). However, safety Will Hill, a good player, was waived by the team after his third drug suspension in three years. He missed four games in both 2012 & '13 for drugs and was hit with a six-gamer for 2014. The leading candidate to take Hill's spot is Stevie Brown, who had eight interceptions in 2012 but tore his ACL last preseason. Or it could be free-agent addition Quintin Demps (Chiefs).
2014 New York Giants Schedule Analysis
Big Blue has the sixth-easiest schedule in the NFL (tied with Cleveland) as the Giants' opponents went a combined 119-137 last season, a winning percentage of .465. It's the easiest schedule in the NFC East. The home slate (.469) appears slightly tougher than the road (.461). New York is a 3.5-point underdog Week 1 at Detroit, the first of the two Monday night games. The Giants eliminated Detroit from the playoffs at Ford Field in Week 16 last season with a 23-20 overtime win when New York had zip to play for. The Giants tied it at 20 with under five minutes left in regulation when Hill returned a Matthew Stafford pass 38 yards for a score. Brown fumbled on New York's first possession in OT at the Detroit 36, but the Lions were unable to score on their possession. Josh Brown then won it with 45-yard field goal, with New York going for it on fourth-and-seven from the Lions 42 instead of punting, which they almost surely would have done had there been something at stake for them. Manning hit Jerrel Jernigan for 15 yards and a first down.
New York could get off to a nice start with a win over the Lions as three of its next four are at home and the Giants could win all four: vs. Cardinals, vs. Texans, at Redskins and vs. Falcons. Those final three were three of the worst clubs in the NFL last season, although I expect each will be much better. Then comes the killer part of the schedule: at Eagles, at Cowboys, bye week, vs. Colts, at Seahawks, vs. 49ers, vs. Cowboys (who swept the Giants in 2013). If New York is simply 6-5 after that it should be in good shape for a playoff berth because the final five aren't near as tough: at Jaguars, at Titans, vs. Redskins (New York swept them last year), at Rams, vs. Eagles.(split with Philly).
2014 New York Giants Odds to Win the Super Bowl and Betting Futures
Odds courtesy of Sportsbook.ag . The Giants are +4500 to win the Super Bowl, +2600 to win the NFC championship and +320 to take the NFC East. New York has a wins total of 8, with the "over" a -130 favorite. It is +235 to make the playoffs and -300 to miss. Manning is +5000 to win NFL MVP and +2000 to top the NFL in passing yards. Jennings is +7500 to be No. 1 in rushing yards. Cruz is +5000 to have the most receiving yards, while Randle is +15000. Beckham Jr. is +1000 to win Offensive Rookie of the Year.
2014 New York Giants Picks and Predictions
The Giants are probably one of the three toughest teams to handicap going into this season because just about no result would surprise me. Perhaps Manning returns to 2011 form and faces his brother in the Super Bowl. Maybe Eli is on the downside of his career and remains an interception machine, New York wins 5-6 games and Coughlin isn't back in 2015. I would say the latter is more likely than the former. The running game is worrisome and so is the offensive line. The defense lacks difference-makers. Cruz is decent value at +5000 on the receiving prop because I expect this team to be throwing plenty again. Go "under" the eight wins.
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