VIP Pigskin Picks | If someone told you that after nine weeks of play one of the New York teams would be 4-5 and the other 1-7 your response would likely have been along the lines of “well, everybody expected the Jets to tank the season but the Giants are legitimate contenders and their 4-5 start has to be considered a disappointment.”
If someone told you that after nine weeks of play one of the New York teams would be 4-5 and the other 1-7 your response would likely have been along the lines of “well, everybody expected the Jets to tank the season but the Giants are legitimate contenders and their 4-5 start has to be considered a disappointment.”
That would have been a reasonable response – but wrong. The Jets are the 4-5 team and easily could be 5-4 or even 6-3. In last Thursday’s 34-21 win over Buffalo they “looked like a real football team.”
Despite the dire predictions the Jets have played hard for coach Todd Bowles and while making the Playoffs remains a longshot (the still have a game against New England) the Jets have already exceeded their Season Win Total for some bettors (it dropped to as low as 3.5). Players do not tank. Ownership and management might.
Check last week’s results with the 1-7 Giants. Final Score: LA Rams 51, NY Giants 17. These are two of the most surprising teams of the 2017 at the midpoint, but in two totally opposite directions.
Coming off an 11-5 season in which they made the Playoffs and returned much of last season’s team, especially on defense, the New York Giants started this season with 5 straight losses. Meanwhile the Rams have not had a winning season since going 12-4 in and in the 13 seasons since have managed an 8-8 record just twice – and those were in 2004 and 2006. Last season’s 4-12 record was their worst since going 2-14 in 2011.
Of the 6 NFC teams to make the Playoffs last season none is currently leading its Division and all four current Division leaders did not make the 2016 Playoffs (the LA Rams, Minnesota, New Orleans and Philadelphia). Of last season’s Division winners Dallas and Seattle are 5-3, Green Bay is 4-3 and Atlanta is 4-4.
Of that group Green Bay is most vulnerable to missing the Playoffs with QB Aaron Rodgers likely out for the season and Division rival Minnesota (6-2) playing so well. Detroit and the Giants were the NFC Wild Cards last season. The Giants are contenders but what they are contending for is the first draft choice in next season’s draft with their 1-7 record. Detroit was just 3-4 heading into Monday night’s game at Green Bay.
It is quite possible, if not likely, that perhaps as many as 4 NFC teams that made the Playoffs last season will miss out this season with the Giants a virtual certainty and Detroit, Green Bay and Atlanta in need of strong second halves. But even the other two teams that made last season’s Playoffs – Dallas and Seattle – are currently in second place in their Divisions.
In the AFC Kansas City, New England and Pittsburgh are all leading their Divisions and looking as though each will return to the Playoffs. Of the other three AFC Playoff teams from last season all are struggling and only Miami is at .500 with a 4-4 record.
Ready to make the Playoffs after more than a season’s absence are Buffalo, Jacksonville and Tennessee. Each are 5-3 through the first half of the season and a 9-7 record could earn an AFC Wild Card or the AFC South Title (in the case of the Jags and Titans). If that trio can split their final 8 games they could well make the Playoffs as only one other team, Miami, has as few as 4 losses.
Seven AFC teams have 5 losses and they, too, have to be given a chance for the Playoffs with a strong second half.
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New England -7.5 at Denver (46): New England’s offense has been rather ordinary over the past month. In their first r games the Pats averaged 32.5 points per game. Over the last 4 the average has been just 21.8 ppg. Unlike the Giants, who perhaps were taken lightly and set the tone for the following three weeks as well, Denver will not overlook the Patriots and an upset win here would not be a surprise. DENVER