Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 1:00PM EST. Odds subject to change.
San Francisco -10½ over New York
8:15 EST. The New York Giants came into the 2023 season with a lot of hope. The days of Eli Manning hoisting Lombardi trophies were long gone, and the G-men needed a new head-man to reinvigorate their winning culture. Last year's AP Coach of the Year, Brian Daboll, did just that. After a 2022 season that saw Big Blue win a playoff game, fans were buzzing and waiting for more, but the first two weeks suggest that the Giants are still far from the championship caliber team they once were.
And the issues are deeper than just Daniel Jones. Jones has issues seeing the field in pressure moments and his decision-making and accuracy have rightly brought on criticism, but the Giants haven't had upper echelon talent surrounding their QB for a good decade. Sure, Saqoun Barkley is an uber-talented workhorse runner, but rare is the running back who greatly affects the trajectory of a team in the modern pass-happy NFL. And even if he was that rare guy, he won't suit up Thursday night after suffering an ankle injury in Week 2.
The Giants are full of B- and C+ talent all over their roster. Star tight end Darren Waller was brought over from Las Vegas but he's already hampered by a pre-existing hamstring injury. Good luck picking any NYG wide-receivers in fantasy because it's a completely unpredictable group. Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepherd, Isaiah Hodgins, and Parris Campbell are all vying for catches. Not one has separated themselves from the others. Rookie Jalin Hyatt flashed speed and standout ability before the season. We saw a semblance of what he can do against Arizona last week, but not every secondary will be as forgiving as the Cardinals. And then there's the Giants' offensive line. Andrew Thomas is one of the best left tackles in the NFL - most experts agree on that - but their front is shallow and underskilled outside the All-Pro. Against great defenses, this offense is a highly vulnerable group.
Concerns only get worse when you evaluate NYG's defense. In Week 1 the Giants let the Cowboys' offense run-wild on National TV like it was old-fashioned backyard football. Massive gaps readily opened up for their run-game and receivers ran as liberated as runaway cats en route to a 40-0 Dallas ass-whooping. In Week 2 it took a 21-point comeback and plenty of Daniel Jones' heroics to outlast the Cardinals. Shockingly, Arizona put up 28 points in the first three quarters in what many thought would be an all-around redemption game for New York. Instead they barely survived. Through two weeks the Giants' defense has yet to record a sack or turnover.
We haven't talked much about the 49ers but we really don't need to. Unless you've been living under a rock, it's abundantly clear that San Francisco is among the most elite teams in the NFL. They traveled to Pittsburgh and annihilated the Steelers in one of the toughest Week 1 road spots in pro-football, and they followed that performance by holding off a very feisty and motivated Rams team for another win in Week 2. Brock Purdy and Christian McCaffrey have been nearly flawless, and they're beyond stacked on both offensive and defensive lines and at every skill-position. After five short seasons, Kyle Shanahan has established an innovative and cohesive culture in the Bay area. Through just two weeks, the 49ers look like a program ready to make a big leap and compete for a title.
Thursday games are always weird, but the Giants are in a more precarious position. Two road games in four days, far out of their comfort zone out west, is about as crappy of a scheduling spot as it gets. Meanwhile the Niners started their season with two road games, but last week was hardly that. Niners' fans filled most of the seats at SoFi Stadium, and one breezy three hour drive later and every 49er was at home smoking cigars and sipping whiskey after another victory. No one knows every detail of what happens between Sunday and Thursday, but we imagine the 49ers will be ready to roll. If New York comes out flat and tired after an emotional comeback win in Week 2, no one should be surprised.
Most of the time, betting the NFL is about beating the market and snagging the "right" number. Sometimes it's just about football. Since Daboll became the Giants' coach, they've played in six games against opponents that we consider "elite" - three games against Dallas, three games against Philadelphia. The Giants have been outscored by an average of 17.67 ppg in those contests, all losses. The G-Men are not one of the elites just yet, in fact they’re not even close, and this is a tough spot to overcome. Recommendation: San Francisco -10½ (No bets).
San Francisco -10½ -110 (Risking 0 units - To Win: 0.00)