New York Giants vs. San Francisco 49ers Monday Night Football Preview 

Two of the worst teams in the NFC collide when the 1-7 New York Giants visit the 2-7 San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football.

New York Giants

The New York Giants are coming off a bye week after losing five straight games, including a 20-13 home setback against the Washington Redskins on October 28. Washington sacked Eli Manning seven times, forced two interceptions, limited Saquon Barkley to 38 rushing yards on 13 carries and made big play after big play. A major difference in the game was that the Redskins capitalized in the red zone, especially in the first half. Manning completed 30 of 47 passes for 316 yards and one touchdown but he had two costly turnovers and Odell Beckham Jr. caught eight passes for 136 receiving yards.

The Giants are averaging 275.4 passing yards (9th in the NFL) and 77.9 rushing yards (31st). New York ranks 27th with 18.8 points per game and 21st with 25.6 points against. Eli Manning has passed for 2,377 yards, eight touchdowns and six interceptions, Saquon Barkley has 519 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 111 carries and Odell Beckham Jr. has 61 receptions for 785 yards and two touchdowns. Landon Collins has 62 tackles and B.J. Hill has two sacks.

San Francisco 49ers

Nick Mullens had the most productive game by a quarterback in his NFL debut since the merger, completing 16 of 22 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns and a 151.9 passer rating (the highest for a quarterback with at least 15 attempts in an NFL debut since 1970) to lead the San Francisco 49ers to an impressive 34-3 home beatdown of the struggling Oakland Raiders on November 1.

Mullens threw touchdown passes to Pierre Garcon and Kendrick Bourne on the opening two drives, as well as a 71-yard one-handed catch-and-run play to George Kittle to set up a third touchdown pass to Kittle. Raheem Mostert added a 52-yard touchdown run and the San Francisco defense generated eight sacks for the first time since 2009. Mullens’ performance earned him another chance to start over C.J. Beathard, who’s just 1-9 in 10 career starts.

The 49ers are averaging 219.9 passing yards (24th in the NFL) and 134.7 rushing yards (4th). San Francisco ranks 18th with 22.8 points per game and 24th with 26.6 points against. Matt Breida has 531 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 96 carries and George Kittle has 41 receptions for 692 yards and three touchdowns. Fred Warner has 73 tackles and DeForest Buckner has 5.5 sacks.

NFL Trends:

The New York Giants are:

11-23-1 ATS in their last 35 games in November

4-10 ATS in their last 14 games against NFC opponents

3-11 ATS in their last 14 games in Week 10

1-4 ATS in their last five games after accumulating more than 250 passing yards in their previous game

1-4 ATS in their last five games following a bye week

The San Francisco 49ers are:

26-6 ATS in their last 32 Monday games

The 49ers will be aggressive at home once again and Mullens will have the chance to make plays but this is a tough call, this game can go in many directions because of the playmakers that the Giants have in Barkley and Beckham Jr. but I’ll ride the wave with the quarterback who has the hot hand and back the 49ers to cover.

NFL Pick: 49ers -3.5 (-105)

Odds via Jazz Sports

Jake Walker runs You can follow him on Twitter (@Walker_J23)

New York Giants VS. Atlanta Falcons Monday Night Football Preview

Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons have a must-win game when they host the struggling New York Giants in a clash of last place teams at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Monday Night Football.

New York Giants

The Giants are on a three-game losing streak after suffering a 34-13 home setback against the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles on October 11. Running back Saquon Barkley was a bright spot the Giants, finishing one receiving yard shy of becoming the first rookie in franchise history with 100 yards rushing and receiving in a game. Barkley ran for 130 yards and one touchdown on 13 carries and he caught nine passes for 99 receiving yards. Eli Manning completed 24 of 43 passes for 281 yards and one interception, failing to record a touchdown pass for the second time this season and Odell Beckham Jr. made just six receptions for 44 yards.

The Giants are averaging 260.8 passing yards (17th in the NFL) and 87.5 rushing yards (27th). New York ranks 27th with 19.5 points per game and 24th with 27.0 points against. Eli Manning has passed for 1662 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions, Saquon Barkley has 438 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 84 carries and Odell Beckham Jr. has 45 receptions for 506 yards and one touchdown. Landon Collins has 49 tackles and B.J. Hill has two sacks.

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons look to win back-to-back games for the first time this season after surviving a late rally to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34-29 and snap a three-game losing streak. Matt Ryan completed 31 of 41 passes for 355 yards and three touchdowns and he added 13 yards on the grounds, Ito Smith ran for 22 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries, Tevin Coleman finished with 35 rushing yards on 10 carries and Julio Jones caught 10 passes for 144 receiving yards.

The Falcons are averaging 311.3 passing yards (5th in the NFL) and 86.0 rushing yards (29th). Atlanta ranks 9th with 27.8 points per game and 31st with 32.0 points against. Matt Ryan has passed for 1956 yards, 14 touchdowns and two interceptions, Tevin Coleman has 260 rushing yards on 71 carries and one touchdown and Julio Jones has 44 receptions for 708 yards. Duke Riley has 37 tackles and Takkarist McKinley has 4.5 sacks.

NFL Trends:

The Over is:

5-0 in Atlanta’s last five games overall

4-0 in Atlanta’s last four home games

16-5-1 in Atlanta’s last 22 games after scoring more than 30 points in their previous game

10-4 in Atlanta’s last 14 games after accumulating less than 90 yards rushing in their previous game

The Falcons are a team with many holes on defense but they have several playmakers on offense. Tevin Coleman should run the ball efficiently against a poor Giants defense that allows 121.3 rushing yards per game and although Mohammed Sanu (hip) and Calvin Ridley (ankle) both left last week’s game with injuries and they’ve been limited in practice, Julio Jones and tight end Austin Hooper can carry the load if necessary and the Giants can up points despite Eli Manning’s struggles, so betting on this game to go Over the number has value.

NFL Pick: Over 54 (-110)

Odds via Jazz Sports

Jake Walker runs You can follow him on Twitter (@Walker_J23)

NFL Week 6 Power Rankings

The NFL season continues to move along. Week 5 saw some surprising finishes, but there are still a pair of undefeated teams that remain. After those two powerhouses, the NFL power rankings are muddied a bit. We take a look at teams 1-10 again this week, trying to sort out who is for real and which teams still have a bit more to prove:

1) The Los Angeles Rams           2018 Record: 5-0          Previous Week: 1 ( – )

The Rams were able to hold off their division rival, the Seattle Seahawks, to move to 5-0. Jared Goff converted a crucial 4th-and-1 late in the 4th quarter on a QB sneak to end the game. The Rams offense has been amazingly efficient, as they lead the NFL in yards per offensive play (7.4) and rank T-4th in fewest turnovers lost (5). Goff ranks 2nd in the league in passer rating (119.7); behind only Drew Brees. The Rams defense also currently ranks 6th in points allowed (19.6 PPG) and has allowed the 3rd fewest attempts inside the red zone (12).

2) The Kansas City Chiefs          2018 Record: 5-0          Previous Week: 2 ( – )

The Chiefs rolled right through the Jags 30-14 and remain one of two unbeaten teams. Kansas City’s defense stepped up big, intercepting Blake Bortles four times. The Chiefs defense came into the game with only two interceptions in the team’s first four games. Patrick Mahomes  had his first game this year without a TD and threw his first two interceptions of the season, but was able to get enough offense going to down the Jags. The Chiefs offense ranks 2nd in points per game (35.0) and ranks T-1st in fewest turnovers (3). The Chiefs are also the 3rd most efficient team at scoring inside the red zone (76.2%).

3) The New Orleans Saints        2018 Record: 5-0         Previous Week: 9 ( +6 )

Drew Brees, this week, became the new all-time leader in passing yards in the NFL. He did so in a 43-19 drubbing of the Redskins in the Superdome. Brees leads this Saints offense that ranks 1st in points per game (36.0) and 2nd in first downs (128). The Saints also got RB Mark Ingram back this week from suspension, and he contributed immediately rushing for two TDs. Brees found rookie WR Tre’Quan Smith three times for 111 yards and two scores, the first of which a 62 yard TD that gave his QB the all-time passing yards record.

4) The Chicago Bears            2018 Record: 3-1            Previous Week: 3 ( -1 )

The Bears had a week four bye after their week three win over the Bucs. For a team that came into the season with modest expectations, the Bears find themselves ranking 2nd in scoring defense (16.3 PPG) and have allowed the fewest trips inside the red zone (7). The Bears’ next matchup is a Dolphins team that ranks 28th in scoring (19.8 PPG).

5) The Cincinnati Bengals           2018 Record: 4-1          Previous Week: 5 ( – )

The Bengals moved to 4-1 after overcoming a 17-0 2nd half deficit to beat the Dolphins. A Bengals defense, which has struggled this season, blanked the Fins for the final 24 plus minutes of game time. The Bengals’ only blemish thus far was a loss on the road in Carolina. The Bengals rank 4th in scoring offense (30.6 PPG) and continues to have a top five scoring offense in the red zone (70.6%).

6) The New England Patriots        2018 Record: 3-2           Previous Week: NR

The Patriots, after some early season offensive struggles, have rebounded with back-to-back wins. They dominated the Dolphins last Sunday, and then beat the Colts last Thursday on a short week to move to 3-2. In the process, the Pats have moved to 6th in red zone scoring (68.8%) and rank 9th in points per game (26.6). The Patriots defense also ranks 9th in scoring (21.6) and has forced 10 turnovers (6th).

7) The Los Angeles Chargers         2018 Record: 3-2         Previous Week: NR

The Chargers took down the Raiders this past week to move to 3-2. Philip Rivers currently ranks 3rd in the NFL at QB rating (116.4) and leads this Chargers offense that ranks 8th in scoring (27.4 PPG). The Chargers offense has also taken care of the football, ranking T-4th in turnovers lost (5). The 2018 Bolts’ defense are T-10th in turnovers (8), and their only two losses have come against the Chiefs and Rams.

8) The Carolina Panthers          2018 Record: 3-2          Previous Week: NR

This past Sunday, the Panthers held off a Giants team desperate for a win. Graham Gano kicked a game-winning 63 yard FG with 0:01 remaining. The Panthers offense ranks 12th in scoring offense (26.0 PPG), and have only committed four turnovers thus far, which is good for 3rd in the NFL. The Panthers defense is ranked 15th in scoring defense (22.8 PPG) and is T-5th best at stopping conversions on 3rd down (30.8%).

9) The Jacksonville Jaguars         2018 Record: 3-2         Previous Week: 4 ( -5 )

The Jaguars hit a lofty speed bump in their 2018 season last week, falling to the red hot Chiefs 30-14. The Jags have had trouble scoring this season; their 20.4 PPG ranks 26th in the league. That said, they still rank T-3rd in scoring defense (17.2 PPG) and are the 2nd stingiest team on defense inside the red zone (33.3%). That defense is also the 6th best in the NFL at getting off the field on 3rd down (30.8%).

10) The Baltimore Ravens           2018 Record: 3-2           Previous Week: 6 ( -4 )

The Ravens lost a tough, divisional game on the road in OT this past week to a reinvigorated Cleveland Browns team. The Ravens struggled mightily on 3rd down (4/16) against their division foe. The Ravens defense, however, still ranks 1st in scoring defense (15.4 PPG) and 1st at getting off the field on 3rd down (28.8%). Their defense is also T-3rd fewest red zone attempts allowed (12). The Ravens offense has come up big inside the red zone, ranking T-8th in converting red zone scores (65.0%).

NFL Teams That Could Make Their Return to the Postseason in 2018

Every year, it seems, a host of unlikely NFL teams surprises many experts, and fans alike, in crashing the playoff party. Last year, the Bills returned to playoff football, which snapped the longest current drought in American pro sports. The new NFL playoff draught title is bestowed upon the Browns, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2002. The revolving door of the NFL playoffs should keep turning in 2018, and here are a few teams that could make a return to the postseason.

The New York Giants (Odds To Make The Playoffs Entering Season: +280)

Say what you will about Eli Manning, but the Giants had many more issues last year than just at the QB position. It seemed to many NFL insiders that former head coach Ben McAdoo had “lost the locker room”. Combined with the Giants’ rookie coaching issues was a plethora of injuries. The Giants fell from Super Bowl hopefuls to the bottom of the NFC East. Now, enter in new head coach Pat Shurmur, who helped to turn the Vikings offense back into a top 10 scoring offense for the first time since 2009 when they finished 2nd. And speaking of 2nds, more importantly, the Giants drafted star running back Saquon Barkley 2nd overall in this past April’s draft. Add in a healthy Odell Beckham Jr to the mix, along with rookie standout TE Evan Engram entering his 2nd year, the Giants’ already impressive defensive unit looks like it now has the offensive fire-power to carry them back to the playoffs.

The Green Bay Packers (-180)

You need not over think this particular team scenario. If Aaron Rodgers is healthy, the Packers will have a great chance to win double-digit games. Even with the departure of Jordy Nelson, the Pack have a solid #1 option in Davante Adams, who has posted back to back double digit TD seasons. Add in the newly acquired Jimmy Graham and veteran slot man Randall Cobb, the Packers offense should be among the best in 2018. On the defensive side, Clay Matthews and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix are joined by FA acquisition Muhammad Wilkerson. The Packers defense will look to improve upon their 2017 season, where they ranked 7th worst in points allowed and 5th worst in forcing 4th down. All in all, the Packers look to be much improved heading into 2018, and with Aaron Rodgers calling plays, are likely to return to playoff football.

The Los Angeles Chargers (-150)

The Chargers will look to build on an impressive 9-7 finish to 2017. The defense that ranked 3rd best in points allowed last season will suffer a slight setback, losing CB Jason Verrett to a torn Achilles in late July. Rookie DB Derwin James (17th pick) will look to make an immediate impact in the secondary. On the D-line, Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa return to lead the defensive front that ranked 5th in sacks a season ago. On offense, Philip Rivers and Melvin Gordon head a group that last year ranked 4th in yards per game. Plagued by too many injuries in 2017, the Chargers look healthy and ready to contend for a division title in 2018.

*Odds via The Westgate Superbook

Preseason Week 3 Notes: Broncos, Peterson, Lions, Giants

The Broncos paid Case Keenum starter money to come in and create stability at the position and he looked exactly like the player they wanted during a half of work on Friday against the Redskins. He completed 12-of-18 passes for 148 yards, leading Denver to three scoring drives.

Keenum clearly has a favorite receiver, targeting Emmanuel Sanders eight times during the contest. Here is his target breakdown from the game:

Sanders caught four of the targets for 61 yards and he added a rushing touchdown. Thomas is going higher in drafts, but Sanders is the guy to own and provides tremendous value with an ESPN ADP OF 67, though he’s likely to rise over the next week.

Here’s more from the Broncos as well as other teams who took the field on Friday night:

  • Courtland Sutton looked the part of a pro, hauling in all three of his targets for 45 yards. He needs to be drafted for the upside.
  • Adrian Peterson looked spry during a half of action for the Redskins. This is now his job to lose and he should be taken in the 7th round in the Rex BurkheadIsaiah CrowellDuke Johnson Jr. range.
  • The Lions‘ offense struggled yet again with Matt Stafford completing 9-of-18 passes for 113 yards. His receivers dropped a few balls and no pass-catcher came away from the game with a good performance. Kenny Golladay and Golden Tate each had four targets, most on the team.
  • Evan Engram picked up where he left off last season, catching three of four targets before suffering a concussion.
  • Eli Manning had no Odell Beckham or Saquon Barkley to use, but he looked adequate, completing 17-of-23 for 188 yards. Sterling Shepard had 8 of those targets and while he’ll get less attention during the regular season with the stars back, I’d rather him over players like Jordy Nelson and Jamison Crowder among others.