NBC usually gets terrific matchups for Sunday Night Football, with the network also able to flex games into the prime-time slot later in the season. If that option were available in Week 6, it might be exercised because the game between the Giants and Broncos in Denver looks like a total mismatch.
The Broncos are 12-point NFL betting favorites. It’s unlikely there will be such a big spread in an SNF game the rest of 2017.
That number is all about the Giants. Every year since 1990 when the NFL expanded the playoff field at least four teams that made the playoffs one season then missed the next. Count Big Blue as one of those in 2017. The Giants were 11-5 last year, the only team to beat Dallas twice and reached the postseason for the first time since 2011. Now New York is one of just three winless teams at 0-5.
Upon a closer look, one perhaps could have seen a drop-off coming for New York, although not this steep. The Giants were 8-3 in games decided by seven points or fewer last year. That’s a bit of a fluke record. This year that mark is 0-3, although the Giants have had some bad luck. They lost on a game-winning 61-yard field goal on the final play in Philadelphia, on a 34-yard field goal on the final play in Tampa (to a kicker since released), and last week 27-22 at home to the Chargers on a late fumble by Eli Manning that Los Angeles turned into the winning TD.
Have you ever heard of a team losing four receivers to injury in the same game? New York did against the Chargers in Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Brandon Marshall and Dwayne Harris. Beckham, Marshall and Harris are done for the season, with the Beckham loss obviously the big one. He had been off to a Hall of Fame start to his career with at least 90 catches, 1,300 yards and 10 TDs in each of his first three seasons. He’s on the short list of best receivers in the game.
Shepard is iffy this week, and New York is so decimated it had to call up a couple of guys from the practice squad, and the No. 1 target in Denver could be undrafted free agent Roger Lewis, who has 15 career catches in his two seasons.
As if the Broncos didn’t have enough of an advantage from an injury standpoint, they come off the bye week and thus are about as healthy as possible. At 3-1, Denver might be good enough to win every division but its own AFC West, which houses the NFL’s lone unbeaten team in the Chiefs. The Broncos again have one of the best defenses in the NFL, ranking No. 1 in total yards allowed per game (260.8), rushing yards allowed per game (50.8 and no TDs) and seventh in points (18.5 ppg).
Good luck to the Giants scoring. It’s their first time as a double-digit dog since 2007. Denver has been a good October team the past few years, covering 10 of its past 14 in the month. That’s a lot of points to give on the NFL board, but the Broncos cover here as well.
October 11, 2017