I absolutely hate making game-by-game predictions this far in advance. The NFL season is, at least, four months away. No team, including the New York Giants, has held a practice or will for the foreseeable future. We have no clue what players will be healthy and available for the Giants, or whatever team they are playing on any given week.
Yet, fans love to look ahead and try to figure out months in advance how things might turn out. Future prognostications are part of the lifeblood of the gambling industry. Before the NFL schedule release on Thursday night, Draft Kings had come out with game-by-game odds showing the Giants favored to win only two of 16 games.
Now, Bet Online has released its own game-by-game lines for the 2020 season and the news is even worse for the Giants. Bet Online has the Giants favored to win just one game. The Giants are underdogs in 12 others, with three listed as pick-em games.
Now, the Giants have won just 12 games in three seasons. They have a 38-year-old rookie head coach facing the disadvantage of not being able to gather his team to begin working in person or on the field.
How difficult is the Giants’ schedule? Well, that depends on what measure you use. Based on 2019 won-loss records, the Giants’ schedule ranks as only the 26th most difficult, with opponents have compiled a .482 winning percentage. Based on over/under expectations for how Giants’ opponents will fare in 2020, only the Atlanta Falcons have a tougher schedule.
After all of that preamble, let’s just go through the schedule and see what sort of projected final record we come up with. I’m not going to pick against the spread here. I’m just going to offer win-lose projections.
Week 1 — vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Bet Online: Giants +3
The Steelers went 8-8 a season ago. They aren’t a juggernaut. Their first pick in the draft was 49th (Chase Claypool). They do get 38-year-old quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who played only two games last season, back. That apparently makes enough different to oddsmakers that Pittsburgh’s over/under for 2020 victories is set at nine.
The Steelers are one of those established teams with a veteran quarterback and head coach who might be better positioned to be prepared to begin the year after the interrupted offseason.
I really want to pick the Giants to win here. I just can’t.
Prediction: Loss (0-1)
Week 2 — @ Chicago Bears
Bet Online: Bears -5
The Giants hit the road for the first time. The Bears still have Khalil Mack. They also have Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles, which means they still don’t really have a quarterback. Or an offense, even though they do have about a gazillion tight ends.
This is a game I think the Giants can steal.
Prediction: Win (1-1)
Week 3 — vs. San Francisco 49ers
Bet Online: Giants +6½
Nope. Not happening. The 49ers are where the Giants are trying to get, and they aren’t close yet.
Prediction: Loss (1-2)
Week 4 — @ Los Angeles Rams
Bet Online: Rams -6½
Jared Goff has been somewhat exposed, and the Rams don’t seem to be what they were a couple of seasons ago. The Giants could surprise here, but I’m not going on record saying they will. Acecdotally, the Giants and the West Coast don’t usually seem to get along. I’m not predicting that to change in their first trip across the country with Judge as head coach.
Prediction: Loss (1-3)
Week 5 — @ Dallas Cowboys
Bet Online: Cowboys -7½
Somewhere along the way I firmly believe there will be a turning point victory for Judge and the Giants against either the Cowboys or Philadelphia Eagles. Maybe not one that throws the Giants into the playoff race, but one that hints that the Giants might be closing the gap on the two teams who have dominated the NC East in recent seasons. I don’t think this one is it.
Prediction: Loss (1-4)
Week 6 — vs. Washington Redskins
Bet Online: Giants -5
At this point the Giants will be desperate for a victory, the faithful at MetLife Stadium will be getting restless and wondering if Judge is in over his head, and the comments here at Big Blue View will have sunk to a level where I am going to wish some folks would take their anger elsewhere.
This is the Redskins, though, and a game the Giants should win. I think they will.
Prediction: Win (2-4)
Week 7 — @ Philadelphia Eagles
Bet Online: Eagles -7
Remember when I said I believed there would be a signature victory this season against the Eagles or Cowboys. Not it.
Pick: Eagles (2-5)
Week 8 — vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bet Online: Giants +3
At first I thought, nah, Giants can’t beat the Bucs with Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. Then, I looked at last season’s box score and realized Jameis Winston went 23-of-37 for 380 yards with 3 TDs and just 1 INT a year ago when the Giants won, 32-31. That was the Daniel Jones’ debut game, and the one in which Saquon Barkley got hurt.
Maybe I’m being overly optimistic but I’ll take the Giants here.
Prediction: Win (3-5)
Week 9 — @ Redskins
Bet Online: Redskins pick-’em
I gave the Giants the victory a few weeks ago at MetLife. They are, though, pretty much in the same developmental place as the Redskins. And, you know, young teams sometimes follow uplifting victories with mystifyingly bad losses. I’ll say the Giants and Redskins split.
Prediction: Loss (3-6)
Week 10 — vs. Eagles
Bet Online: Giants +3½
I’m starting to think I should not have written that there will be a signature win over the Eagles or Cowboys this year. I’m finding it hard to actually pick the game where that will happen.
Prediction: Loss (3-7)
Week 12 — @ Cincinnati Bengals
Bet Online: Bengals pick ‘em
Yes, the Bengals have Joe Burrow now. If I don’t pick the Giants to win this game, though, how can I legitimately pick them to win another one the rest of the season?
Prediction: Win (4-7)
Week 13 — @ Seattle Seahawks
Bet Online: Seahawks -8½
Umm ... no.
Prediction: Loss (4-8)
Week 14 — vs. Arizona Cardinals
Bet Online: Giants pick ‘em
The Giants should have beaten the Cardinals at MetLife Stadium a year ago. The listless, unprepared effort they gave in falling behind 17-0 before losing, 27-21, is one of the reasons Pat Shurmur got fired.
I’ll admit, Kyler Murray is a better NFL quarterback than I thought he would be. This game scares me, but I think it might be one of those games where Judge shows he was the right choice to succeed Shurmur.
Prediction: Win (5-8)
Week 15 — vs. Cleveland Browns
Bet Online: Giants +1
The return of Odell Beckham Jr. The Browns, with Kevin Stefanski, also have a rookie head coach. This is one of those games that could go either way. I prefer to be optimistic, though.
Prediction: Win (6-8)
Week 16 — @ Baltimore Ravens
Bet Online: Ravens -12½
I want to be optimistic. I’m not going to be stupid.
Prediction: Loss (6-9)
Week 17 — vs. Dallas Cowboys
Bet Online: Giants +3
Maybe this will be a game that won’t mean anything to Dallas, which could have a playoff berth secured by this point. How sweet would a season-ending upset of the Cowboys be, though, if it impacted their playoff status?
I’m probably nuts, but let’s end on an optimistic note.
Prediction: Win (7-9)
In all honesty, predicting a 7-9 finish could easily be called overly optimistic. It probably is. Having just gone through this schedule game-by-game this could easily be a four-win season for the Giants, especially under current circumstances. Or, things could go well and it could be a seven- or eight-win season.
Really, though, more than likely anything I’ve written here trying to predict games four to seven months before they actually happen doesn’t mean a darn thing.