Washington Redskins (9-7 in 2007) +3 , 41 at New York Giants (10-6), 7 pm Eastern Thursday, NBC
by Zman of Predictem.com
The defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants kick off the 2008 NFL season when they host the Washington Redskins and new head coach Jim Zorn Thursday night in New Jersey.
Football Bookies are listing New York as 3 1/2-point home favorites for Thursday’s game, with an over/under of 41. The Giants are also posted at -180 on various Vegas moneylines, while Washington is getting +170 as the road underdogs.
The Redskins, as we recall, went 9-7 and made the playoffs last year. But head coach Joe Gibbs retired, again, over the off-season, and was replaced by Zorn, the former QB and QB coach who’s never even been a coordinator.
Zorn is implementing a version of the West Coast offense, which can take time. Despite scoring 30 points in their exhibition opener vs. Indianapolis, the ‘Skins averaged just 13 points per game during the pre-season.
The Giants, as 30/1 longshots, unexpectedly won the Super Bowl last season, upsetting the undefeated New England Patriots out in the Arizona desert in February.
But since then, New York has taken a couple of hits on defense, with one starting DE, Michael Strahan, retiring, and the other, Osi Umenyiora, going down and out with a pre-season knee injury. The G-Men have moved LB Mathias Kiwanuka to DE to fill the hole, but because of a couple of off-season defections, New York will field four new starters on defense this season.
Last year, Washington ranked 15th in total offense at 333 YPG, 12th in rushing at 117 YPG, 8th in total defense at 305 YPG, 4th vs. the run at 91 YPG, 9th in total yardage at +28 YPG, and 7th in time-of-possession at +2:20 per game.
Meanwhile, New York ranked 16th in total offense last year at 331 YPG, 4th in rushing at 134 YPG, 7th in total defense at 305 YPG, 8th vs. the run at 98 YPG, 6th in TOP at +2:42 and 11th in total yardage at +26 YPG.
These two divisional rivals split their two meetings last season, each winning on the other’s home field. In week 3, the Giants trailed 17-3 at the half in DC, then rallied for three 2nd-half touchdowns to win 24-17. The G-Men pulled off the victory as 3 1/2-point road dogs, and the game stayed under its total by one point.
Then, in week 15, the Redskins beat the Giants 22-10 as six-point road dogs in Jersey. Washington ran the ball 35 times for 153 yards, helping the game stay under its total of 36.
In those two games, New York outgained Washington by a 311-285 average, out-1st-downed the ‘Skins 20-14 and held the ball for a 31-29 per-game TOP advantage. Both teams averaged 118 rushing yards in the two games, but while the Giants turned the ball over four times, Washington did so just once.
On the injury front, New York kicker Lawrence Tynes has a sore knee, and is out of action for the time being. So the Giants signed 44-year-old John Carney, who went 12/14 on FGs last season for Jacksonville and Kansas City, to kick for Tynes.
The totals went 7-9 in ‘Redskins games last season, which averaged 40 totals points. Meanwhile, the O/Us went 8-8 in Giants games last year, which averaged 45 points.
Zman’s Pick: As much as I DON’T like the Giants this year, I think they win and cover in this game. The Redskins looked horrible in the preseason. I do however think they will mature as the season goes on and become a better team. Just not in Week 1.