The NFL still has four undefeated teams heading into this weekend, yet none of them will ever get more respect than the Patriots, who many are whispering could post another perfect regular season. But no matter how outwardly confident Pats fans may appear, that dream won’t even look like a remote possibility until they can overcome a Week 10 matchup against the New York Giants (Sunday, Nov. 15, at 1:00 PM Eastern at MetLife Stadium).
At first glance, there’s nothing overtly scary about a 4-4 team toiling away in the terrible NFC East. But the Giants have proven to be the bane of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s existence. If not for a couple Eli Manning miracle plays, the duo would have six Super Bowl wins and be unquestionably the greatest coach and quarterback of all time. Manning is 3-1 in his career versus the Pats, his only loss coming in a meaningless Week 17 game in 2007 (meaningless for the Giants anyways; the Pats were trying to secure a spot in history at 17-0).
There is more than just history to fear when talking about the New York Giants, though. They are also a frighteningly unpredictable team. After surrendering no more than 27 points through the first seven weeks, their defense was dreadful against the Saints, allowing 608 yards of offense and 52 points. Despite this, the Giants led in the fourth quarter thanks to a huge day from Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. But, for the third time this year, New York couldn’t hang on to a lead in the final frame.
New England is proving they can win just about any way that’s required. Playing behind a patchwork offensive line, Brady is still putting together his best season as a pro; the run game has gotten a big boost from Dion Lewis; and the defense is steadily improving each week, now ranking top ten in points and rush yards per game, and top three in sacks.
While this team looks infallible, especially at home, they could be had, especially if Victor Cruz and Jason Pierre-Paul make their long-awaited returns to the Giants next weekend. Pierre-Paul would aid a defense that really has no pass rush to speak of (but has a knack for generating timely takeaways). Meanwhile, Cruz would be a welcome return after Manning has had to rely on Dwayne Harris and Rueben Randle all year. Even without Cruz, though, Manning has proven to have the clutch gene against the Pats.
New England will no doubt be favorites, but given these teams’ strange history, the line should be something weird like Pats -5. If that’s the case, consider the Giants to keep it close.
Straight-up pick: Patriots.
(Photo Credit: SAB0TEUR (Originally posted to Flickr)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/])