Eli Manning is a dirty little worm who has developed a nasty habit of covering point spreads in the fourth quarter of supposedly all-but-lost games, and it’s making many a fine fool out of many a sorry gambler and causing many other onlookers to act in decidedly heinous and contrary ways.
In week two, for instance, the people of Tampa were turned sideways by a 25-point fourth-quarter comeback and got ugly, setting fire to the stands and burning straw idols of Eli openly in the streets. In Cleveland last week, a 20-point spike in the second drove those poor bastards into complete catatonic despair, what the doctors are now calling the incurable Weeden Disease. And last year alone, he engineered seven fourth-quarter comebacks, burning the ’Niners and the Eagles, the Cowboys and Dolphins, the Bills, the Cards and the Patriots, twice with the game on the line, the second of those scorchings of course coming with the Lombardi trophy looking on.
Yessir, Brother Eli is all grown up and looking like a full-fledged flier; all told, he’s got 22 fourth-quarter comebacks and 26 game-winning drives. His Q4 QB rating jumps 20 points when he’s playing from behind, and his YPA kicks up five and a half ticks, from 4.0 when he’s one to eight points ahead to 9.6 when down by the same margin, and all the while his completion percentage remains exactly the same.
That’s impressive stuff for a QB under pressure. When the boy’s within seven, when he can smell blood in the air and see the sharks circling, his fourth-quarter QBR hits a high of 114.4. When he’s tied or behind, he’s got nine TDs compared to only one when he’s ahead, and when Little Brother Eli has found himself in the limelight in the postseason with an unspectacular regular season record, he has twice beaten the big bad boys from New England and twice emerged as the Super Bowl MVP.
All that to say that the standing Candlestick 10-count we’ve already imposed on the G-Men might not be necessary; 6.5 points is a hell of a lot of ground to cover against a team and QB that can hold their own in the clutch. The ’Niners already know the feeling of being beaten like a drum by a lame little boy living in his big brother’s shadow, but come Sunday they might know what it’s like to be lit up by a Giant who’s all grown up and got it all figured out.
The New York Giants are dead, everybody. Long live the New York Giants.
This Week’s Lines:
New York (+6.5) over San Francisco
This is about the time the Giants descend in utter collapse, unruly crowds gather en masse outside MetLife calling for the head of Tom Coughlin as New York breaks off a 1-4 streak before stumbling ass-backwards into the playoffs at a surprising 9-7, wins the wild card game, the divisional game, the NFC and another Super Bowl. That’s how this story ends. But it starts with a upset win.
Houston (-3.5) over Green Bay
Falling to 2-4 is essentially a death sentence when two teams in your division are 4-1. It’s a long way to the light.
Indianapolis (+3.5) over New York
This has more to do with a missing Darrelle Revis and a lack of faith in New York’s bumbling offense than any real faith in Andrew Luck’s.
Atlanta (-9) over Oakland
Better quarterbacks than Carson Palmer have been caught cross-eyed and confused by Atlanta’s lying-low-in-weeds secondary.
New England (-3.5) over Seattle
Committing a cardinal sin here: betting against the Seahawks, a good defense, at home, against a hurry-up offense and a team that can’t contain the run. Wait…Seattle (+3.5) over New England.
Minnesota (+3.5) over Washington
This is the game when we all come to terms with a real NFL reality: the Redskins, surrounded by hype are not all that good and the Vikings, a team surrounded in shit, surprisingly are.
Denver (+1) over San Diego
Another notch in seemingly endless Norv Turner embarrassment belt.
Baltimore (-3.5) over Dallas
Things that shouldn’t concern you: Baltimore’s nine point mudfest last week in Kansas City. Things that should concern you: Tony Romo’s 5-8 TD/INT ratio.
Miami (-2.5) over St. Louis, Tampa Bay (-4) over Kansas City, Philadelphia (-2.5) over Detroit, Cleveland (+2) over Cincinnati, Buffalo (+4.5) over Arizona.
Last Week: 7-6
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